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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Study In Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Title: A Study In Scarlet

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Posting Date: July 12, 2008 [EBook #244]
Release Date: April, 1995
[Last updated: February 17, 2013]

Language: English


Produced by Roger Squires


By A. Conan Doyle


     Original Transcriber's Note: This etext is prepared directly
     from an 1887 edition, and care has been taken to duplicate the
     original exactly, including typographical and punctuation

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    Part II, The Country of the Saints, deals much with the Mormon Church.



(_Being a reprint from the reminiscences of_ JOHN H. WATSON, M.D., _late
of the Army Medical Department._) [2]


IN the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the
University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course
prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there,
I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant
Surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before
I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at
Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and
was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many
other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded
in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once
entered upon my new duties.

The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had
nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and
attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the fatal battle of
Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which
shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. I should have
fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis had it not been for the
devotion and courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a
pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines.

Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had
undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to
the base hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had already improved
so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little
upon the verandah, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse
of our Indian possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and
when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and
emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost
in sending me back to England. I was dispatched, accordingly, in the
troopship "Orontes," and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with
my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal
government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it.

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as
air--or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will
permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to
London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of
the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at
a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless
existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely
than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances become, that
I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate
somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in
my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making
up my mind to leave the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less
pretentious and less expensive domicile.

On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was standing at
the Criterion Bar, when some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turning
round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at
Barts. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is
a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never
been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm,
and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the
exuberance of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and
we started off together in a hansom.

"Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?" he asked in
undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets.
"You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut."

I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly concluded it
by the time that we reached our destination.

"Poor devil!" he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to my
misfortunes. "What are you up to now?"

"Looking for lodgings." [3] I answered. "Trying to solve the problem
as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable

"That's a strange thing," remarked my companion; "you are the second man
to-day that has used that expression to me."

"And who was the first?" I asked.

"A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the hospital.
He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not get someone
to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which
were too much for his purse."

"By Jove!" I cried, "if he really wants someone to share the rooms and
the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner
to being alone."

Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-glass. "You
don't know Sherlock Holmes yet," he said; "perhaps you would not care
for him as a constant companion."

"Why, what is there against him?"

"Oh, I didn't say there was anything against him. He is a little queer
in his ideas--an enthusiast in some branches of science. As far as I
know he is a decent fellow enough."

"A medical student, I suppose?" said I.

"No--I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he is well
up in anatomy, and he is a first-class chemist; but, as far as I know,
he has never taken out any systematic medical classes. His studies are
very desultory and eccentric, but he has amassed a lot of out-of-the way
knowledge which would astonish his professors."

"Did you never ask him what he was going in for?" I asked.

"No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can be
communicative enough when the fancy seizes him."

"I should like to meet him," I said. "If I am to lodge with anyone, I
should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am not strong
enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough of both in
Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my natural existence. How
could I meet this friend of yours?"

"He is sure to be at the laboratory," returned my companion. "He either
avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there from morning to
night. If you like, we shall drive round together after luncheon."

"Certainly," I answered, and the conversation drifted away into other

As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn, Stamford
gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed to
take as a fellow-lodger.

"You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with him," he said; "I know
nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him occasionally in
the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you must not hold me

"If we don't get on it will be easy to part company," I answered. "It
seems to me, Stamford," I added, looking hard at my companion, "that you
have some reason for washing your hands of the matter. Is this fellow's
temper so formidable, or what is it? Don't be mealy-mouthed about it."

"It is not easy to express the inexpressible," he answered with a laugh.
"Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes--it approaches to
cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of
the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand,
but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea
of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself
with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and
exact knowledge."

"Very right too."

"Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating the
subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking
rather a bizarre shape."

"Beating the subjects!"

"Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I saw him
at it with my own eyes."

"And yet you say he is not a medical student?"

"No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But here we
are, and you must form your own impressions about him." As he spoke, we
turned down a narrow lane and passed through a small side-door, which
opened into a wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground to me,
and I needed no guiding as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and
made our way down the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed
wall and dun-coloured doors. Near the further end a low arched passage
branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory.

This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless bottles.
Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled with retorts,
test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering flames.
There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant
table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round
and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. "I've found it! I've
found it," he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a
test-tube in his hand. "I have found a re-agent which is precipitated
by hoemoglobin, [4] and by nothing else." Had he discovered a gold mine,
greater delight could not have shone upon his features.

"Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, introducing us.

"How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength
for which I should hardly have given him credit. "You have been in
Afghanistan, I perceive."

"How on earth did you know that?" I asked in astonishment.

"Never mind," said he, chuckling to himself. "The question now is about
hoemoglobin. No doubt you see the significance of this discovery of

"It is interesting, chemically, no doubt," I answered, "but

"Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for years.
Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come
over here now!" He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and
drew me over to the table at which he had been working. "Let us have
some fresh blood," he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and
drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. "Now, I
add this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that
the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The proportion
of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have no doubt, however,
that we shall be able to obtain the characteristic reaction." As he
spoke, he threw into the vessel a few white crystals, and then added
some drops of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents assumed a
dull mahogany colour, and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom
of the glass jar.

"Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted as a
child with a new toy. "What do you think of that?"

"It seems to be a very delicate test," I remarked.

"Beautiful! beautiful! The old Guiacum test was very clumsy and
uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles. The
latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this appears
to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test been
invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long
ago have paid the penalty of their crimes."

"Indeed!" I murmured.

"Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is
suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His
linen or clothes are examined, and brownish stains discovered upon them.
Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains,
or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert,
and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock
Holmes' test, and there will no longer be any difficulty."

His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over his
heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up by his

"You are to be congratulated," I remarked, considerably surprised at his

"There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year. He would
certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then there was
Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier,
and Samson of New Orleans. I could name a score of cases in which it
would have been decisive."

"You seem to be a walking calendar of crime," said Stamford with a
laugh. "You might start a paper on those lines. Call it the 'Police News
of the Past.'"

"Very interesting reading it might be made, too," remarked Sherlock
Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on his finger.
"I have to be careful," he continued, turning to me with a smile, "for I
dabble with poisons a good deal." He held out his hand as he spoke, and
I noticed that it was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster,
and discoloured with strong acids.

"We came here on business," said Stamford, sitting down on a high
three-legged stool, and pushing another one in my direction with
his foot. "My friend here wants to take diggings, and as you were
complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought
that I had better bring you together."

Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with
me. "I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street," he said, "which would
suit us down to the ground. You don't mind the smell of strong tobacco,
I hope?"

"I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered.

"That's good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally
do experiments. Would that annoy you?"

"By no means."

"Let me see--what are my other shortcomings. I get in the dumps at
times, and don't open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am
sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I'll soon be right. What
have you to confess now? It's just as well for two fellows to know the
worst of one another before they begin to live together."

I laughed at this cross-examination. "I keep a bull pup," I said, "and
I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts
of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices
when I'm well, but those are the principal ones at present."

"Do you include violin-playing in your category of rows?" he asked,

"It depends on the player," I answered. "A well-played violin is a treat
for the gods--a badly-played one----"

"Oh, that's all right," he cried, with a merry laugh. "I think we may
consider the thing as settled--that is, if the rooms are agreeable to

"When shall we see them?"

"Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we'll go together and settle
everything," he answered.

"All right--noon exactly," said I, shaking his hand.

We left him working among his chemicals, and we walked together towards
my hotel.

"By the way," I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon Stamford, "how
the deuce did he know that I had come from Afghanistan?"

My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. "That's just his little
peculiarity," he said. "A good many people have wanted to know how he
finds things out."

"Oh! a mystery is it?" I cried, rubbing my hands. "This is very piquant.
I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. 'The proper study of
mankind is man,' you know."

"You must study him, then," Stamford said, as he bade me good-bye.
"Yo'll find him a knotty problem, though. I'll wager he learns more
about you than you about him. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, considerably
interested in my new acquaintance.


WE met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at No. 221B,
[5] Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They
consisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and a single large
airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad
windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate
did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain was
concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession.
That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the
following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and
portmanteaus. For a day or two we were busily employed in unpacking and
laying out our property to the best advantage. That done, we
gradually began to settle down and to accommodate ourselves to our new

Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet
in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be
up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out
before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical
laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in long
walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest portions of the City.
Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but
now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would
lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving
a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such
a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him
of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance
and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.

As the weeks went by, my interest in him and my curiosity as to his
aims in life, gradually deepened and increased. His very person and
appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual
observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively
lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and
piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded;
and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of
alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness
which mark the man of determination. His hands were invariably
blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of
extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe
when I watched him manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments.

The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I confess how
much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeavoured
to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned
himself. Before pronouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, how
objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention.
My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was
exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and
break the monotony of my daily existence. Under these circumstances, I
eagerly hailed the little mystery which hung around my companion, and
spent much of my time in endeavouring to unravel it.

He was not studying medicine. He had himself, in reply to a question,
confirmed Stamford's opinion upon that point. Neither did he appear to
have pursued any course of reading which might fit him for a degree in
science or any other recognized portal which would give him an entrance
into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain studies was remarkable,
and within eccentric limits his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample
and minute that his observations have fairly astounded me. Surely no man
would work so hard or attain such precise information unless he had some
definite end in view. Desultory readers are seldom remarkable for the
exactness of their learning. No man burdens his mind with small matters
unless he has some very good reason for doing so.

His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary
literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing.
Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he
might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however,
when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory
and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human
being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth
travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact
that I could hardly realize it.

"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of
surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

"To forget it!"

"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is
like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture
as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he
comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets
crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that
he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman
is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will
have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of
these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It
is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can
distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every
addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is
of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing
out the useful ones."

"But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say
that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a
pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but something
in his manner showed me that the question would be an unwelcome one. I
pondered over our short conversation, however, and endeavoured to draw
my deductions from it. He said that he would acquire no knowledge which
did not bear upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he
possessed was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own
mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was
exceptionally well-informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them down.
I could not help smiling at the document when I had completed it. It ran
in this way--

SHERLOCK HOLMES--his limits.

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

When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in despair.
"If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by reconciling all
these accomplishments, and discovering a calling which needs them all,"
I said to myself, "I may as well give up the attempt at once."

I see that I have alluded above to his powers upon the violin. These
were very remarkable, but as eccentric as all his other accomplishments.
That he could play pieces, and difficult pieces, I knew well, because
at my request he has played me some of Mendelssohn's Lieder, and other
favourites. When left to himself, however, he would seldom produce any
music or attempt any recognized air. Leaning back in his arm-chair of
an evening, he would close his eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle
which was thrown across his knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and
melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and cheerful. Clearly they
reflected the thoughts which possessed him, but whether the music aided
those thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the result of a whim
or fancy was more than I could determine. I might have rebelled against
these exasperating solos had it not been that he usually terminated them
by playing in quick succession a whole series of my favourite airs as a
slight compensation for the trial upon my patience.

During the first week or so we had no callers, and I had begun to think
that my companion was as friendless a man as I was myself. Presently,
however, I found that he had many acquaintances, and those in the most
different classes of society. There was one little sallow rat-faced,
dark-eyed fellow who was introduced to me as Mr. Lestrade, and who came
three or four times in a single week. One morning a young girl called,
fashionably dressed, and stayed for half an hour or more. The same
afternoon brought a grey-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a Jew
pedlar, who appeared to me to be much excited, and who was closely
followed by a slip-shod elderly woman. On another occasion an old
white-haired gentleman had an interview with my companion; and on
another a railway porter in his velveteen uniform. When any of these
nondescript individuals put in an appearance, Sherlock Holmes used to
beg for the use of the sitting-room, and I would retire to my bed-room.
He always apologized to me for putting me to this inconvenience. "I have
to use this room as a place of business," he said, "and these people
are my clients." Again I had an opportunity of asking him a point blank
question, and again my delicacy prevented me from forcing another man to
confide in me. I imagined at the time that he had some strong reason for
not alluding to it, but he soon dispelled the idea by coming round to
the subject of his own accord.

It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good reason to remember, that I
rose somewhat earlier than usual, and found that Sherlock Holmes had not
yet finished his breakfast. The landlady had become so accustomed to my
late habits that my place had not been laid nor my coffee prepared. With
the unreasonable petulance of mankind I rang the bell and gave a curt
intimation that I was ready. Then I picked up a magazine from the table
and attempted to while away the time with it, while my companion munched
silently at his toast. One of the articles had a pencil mark at the
heading, and I naturally began to run my eye through it.

Its somewhat ambitious title was "The Book of Life," and it attempted to
show how much an observant man might learn by an accurate and systematic
examination of all that came in his way. It struck me as being a
remarkable mixture of shrewdness and of absurdity. The reasoning was
close and intense, but the deductions appeared to me to be far-fetched
and exaggerated. The writer claimed by a momentary expression, a twitch
of a muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a man's inmost thoughts.
Deceit, according to him, was an impossibility in the case of one
trained to observation and analysis. His conclusions were as infallible
as so many propositions of Euclid. So startling would his results appear
to the uninitiated that until they learned the processes by which he had
arrived at them they might well consider him as a necromancer.

"From a drop of water," said the writer, "a logician could infer the
possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of
one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is
known whenever we are shown a single link of it. Like all other arts,
the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired
by long and patient study nor is life long enough to allow any mortal
to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to
those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest
difficulties, let the enquirer begin by mastering more elementary
problems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to
distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to
which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the
faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look
for. By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his
trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his
expression, by his shirt cuffs--by each of these things a man's calling
is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the
competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable."

"What ineffable twaddle!" I cried, slapping the magazine down on the
table, "I never read such rubbish in my life."

"What is it?" asked Sherlock Holmes.

"Why, this article," I said, pointing at it with my egg spoon as I sat
down to my breakfast. "I see that you have read it since you have marked
it. I don't deny that it is smartly written. It irritates me though. It
is evidently the theory of some arm-chair lounger who evolves all these
neat little paradoxes in the seclusion of his own study. It is not
practical. I should like to see him clapped down in a third class
carriage on the Underground, and asked to give the trades of all his
fellow-travellers. I would lay a thousand to one against him."

"You would lose your money," Sherlock Holmes remarked calmly. "As for
the article I wrote it myself."


"Yes, I have a turn both for observation and for deduction. The
theories which I have expressed there, and which appear to you to be so
chimerical are really extremely practical--so practical that I depend
upon them for my bread and cheese."

"And how?" I asked involuntarily.

"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one in the
world. I'm a consulting detective, if you can understand what that is.
Here in London we have lots of Government detectives and lots of private
ones. When these fellows are at fault they come to me, and I manage to
put them on the right scent. They lay all the evidence before me, and I
am generally able, by the help of my knowledge of the history of
crime, to set them straight. There is a strong family resemblance about
misdeeds, and if you have all the details of a thousand at your finger
ends, it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first. Lestrade
is a well-known detective. He got himself into a fog recently over a
forgery case, and that was what brought him here."

"And these other people?"

"They are mostly sent on by private inquiry agencies. They are
all people who are in trouble about something, and want a little
enlightening. I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and
then I pocket my fee."

"But do you mean to say," I said, "that without leaving your room you
can unravel some knot which other men can make nothing of, although they
have seen every detail for themselves?"

"Quite so. I have a kind of intuition that way. Now and again a case
turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to bustle about and
see things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of special knowledge
which I apply to the problem, and which facilitates matters wonderfully.
Those rules of deduction laid down in that article which aroused your
scorn, are invaluable to me in practical work. Observation with me is
second nature. You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our
first meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan."

"You were told, no doubt."

"Nothing of the sort. I _knew_ you came from Afghanistan. From long
habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind, that I
arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps.
There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a
gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly
an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is
dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are
fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says
clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and
unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have
seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The
whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you
came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished."

"It is simple enough as you explain it," I said, smiling. "You remind
me of Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did
exist outside of stories."

Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that you are
complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, in my
opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking
in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of
an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some
analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as
Poe appeared to imagine."

"Have you read Gaboria's works?" I asked. "Does Lecoq come up to your
idea of a detective?"

Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq was a miserable bungler,"
he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing to recommend him, and
that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. The question was
how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four
hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be made a text-book for
detectives to teach them what to avoid."

I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had admired
treated in this cavalier style. I walked over to the window, and stood
looking out into the busy street. "This fellow may be very clever," I
said to myself, "but he is certainly very conceited."

"There are no crimes and no criminals in these days," he said,
querulously. "What is the use of having brains in our profession. I know
well that I have it in me to make my name famous. No man lives or has
ever lived who has brought the same amount of study and of natural
talent to the detection of crime which I have done. And what is the
result? There is no crime to detect, or, at most, some bungling villainy
with a motive so transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can see
through it."

I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of conversation. I thought it
best to change the topic.

"I wonder what that fellow is looking for?" I asked, pointing to a
stalwart, plainly-dressed individual who was walking slowly down the
other side of the street, looking anxiously at the numbers. He had
a large blue envelope in his hand, and was evidently the bearer of a

"You mean the retired sergeant of Marines," said Sherlock Holmes.

"Brag and bounce!" thought I to myself. "He knows that I cannot verify
his guess."

The thought had hardly passed through my mind when the man whom we were
watching caught sight of the number on our door, and ran rapidly across
the roadway. We heard a loud knock, a deep voice below, and heavy steps
ascending the stair.

"For Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said, stepping into the room and handing
my friend the letter.

Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit out of him. He little
thought of this when he made that random shot. "May I ask, my lad," I
said, in the blandest voice, "what your trade may be?"

"Commissionaire, sir," he said, gruffly. "Uniform away for repairs."

"And you were?" I asked, with a slightly malicious glance at my

"A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry, sir. No answer? Right,

He clicked his heels together, raised his hand in a salute, and was


I CONFESS that I was considerably startled by this fresh proof of the
practical nature of my companion's theories. My respect for his powers
of analysis increased wondrously. There still remained some lurking
suspicion in my mind, however, that the whole thing was a pre-arranged
episode, intended to dazzle me, though what earthly object he could have
in taking me in was past my comprehension. When I looked at him he
had finished reading the note, and his eyes had assumed the vacant,
lack-lustre expression which showed mental abstraction.

"How in the world did you deduce that?" I asked.

"Deduce what?" said he, petulantly.

"Why, that he was a retired sergeant of Marines."

"I have no time for trifles," he answered, brusquely; then with a smile,
"Excuse my rudeness. You broke the thread of my thoughts; but perhaps
it is as well. So you actually were not able to see that that man was a
sergeant of Marines?"

"No, indeed."

"It was easier to know it than to explain why I knew it. If you
were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some
difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across the
street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed on the back of the
fellow's hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a military carriage,
however, and regulation side whiskers. There we have the marine. He was
a man with some amount of self-importance and a certain air of command.
You must have observed the way in which he held his head and swung
his cane. A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the face of
him--all facts which led me to believe that he had been a sergeant."

"Wonderful!" I ejaculated.

"Commonplace," said Holmes, though I thought from his expression that he
was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration. "I said just now that
there were no criminals. It appears that I am wrong--look at this!" He
threw me over the note which the commissionaire had brought. [7]

"Why," I cried, as I cast my eye over it, "this is terrible!"

"It does seem to be a little out of the common," he remarked, calmly.
"Would you mind reading it to me aloud?"

This is the letter which I read to him----


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


"Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders," my friend remarked;
"he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and
energetic, but conventional--shockingly so. They have their knives
into one another, too. They are as jealous as a pair of professional
beauties. There will be some fun over this case if they are both put
upon the scent."

I was amazed at the calm way in which he rippled on. "Surely there is
not a moment to be lost," I cried, "shall I go and order you a cab?"

"I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incurably lazy
devil that ever stood in shoe leather--that is, when the fit is on me,
for I can be spry enough at times."

"Why, it is just such a chance as you have been longing for."

"My dear fellow, what does it matter to me. Supposing I unravel the
whole matter, you may be sure that Gregson, Lestrade, and Co. will
pocket all the credit. That comes of being an unofficial personage."

"But he begs you to help him."

"Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and acknowledges it to me; but
he would cut his tongue out before he would own it to any third person.
However, we may as well go and have a look. I shall work it out on my
own hook. I may have a laugh at them if I have nothing else. Come on!"

He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about in a way that showed that
an energetic fit had superseded the apathetic one.

"Get your hat," he said.

"You wish me to come?"

"Yes, if you have nothing better to do." A minute later we were both in
a hansom, driving furiously for the Brixton Road.

It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung over the
house-tops, looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets
beneath. My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away
about Cremona fiddles, and the difference between a Stradivarius and
an Amati. As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the
melancholy business upon which we were engaged, depressed my spirits.

"You don't seem to give much thought to the matter in hand," I said at
last, interrupting Holmes' musical disquisition.

"No data yet," he answered. "It is a capital mistake to theorize before
you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."

"You will have your data soon," I remarked, pointing with my finger;
"this is the Brixton Road, and that is the house, if I am not very much

"So it is. Stop, driver, stop!" We were still a hundred yards or so from
it, but he insisted upon our alighting, and we finished our journey upon

Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look. It was
one of four which stood back some little way from the street, two being
occupied and two empty. The latter looked out with three tiers of vacant
melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save that here and
there a "To Let" card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared
panes. A small garden sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly
plants separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed
by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently of a
mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place was very sloppy from the
rain which had fallen through the night. The garden was bounded by a
three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood rails upon the top, and
against this wall was leaning a stalwart police constable, surrounded by
a small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and strained their eyes
in the vain hope of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.

I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have hurried into the
house and plunged into a study of the mystery. Nothing appeared to be
further from his intention. With an air of nonchalance which, under the
circumstances, seemed to me to border upon affectation, he lounged up
and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the ground, the sky, the
opposite houses and the line of railings. Having finished his scrutiny,
he proceeded slowly down the path, or rather down the fringe of grass
which flanked the path, keeping his eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice
he stopped, and once I saw him smile, and heard him utter an exclamation
of satisfaction. There were many marks of footsteps upon the wet clayey
soil, but since the police had been coming and going over it, I was
unable to see how my companion could hope to learn anything from it.
Still I had had such extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his
perceptive faculties, that I had no doubt that he could see a great deal
which was hidden from me.

At the door of the house we were met by a tall, white-faced,
flaxen-haired man, with a notebook in his hand, who rushed forward and
wrung my companion's hand with effusion. "It is indeed kind of you to
come," he said, "I have had everything left untouched."

"Except that!" my friend answered, pointing at the pathway. "If a herd
of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess. No
doubt, however, you had drawn your own conclusions, Gregson, before you
permitted this."

"I have had so much to do inside the house," the detective said
evasively. "My colleague, Mr. Lestrade, is here. I had relied upon him
to look after this."

Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows sardonically. "With two
such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground, there will not be
much for a third party to find out," he said.

Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied way. "I think we have done
all that can be done," he answered; "it's a queer case though, and I
knew your taste for such things."

"You did not come here in a cab?" asked Sherlock Holmes.

"No, sir."

"Nor Lestrade?"

"No, sir."

"Then let us go and look at the room." With which inconsequent remark he
strode on into the house, followed by Gregson, whose features expressed
his astonishment.

A short passage, bare planked and dusty, led to the kitchen and offices.
Two doors opened out of it to the left and to the right. One of these
had obviously been closed for many weeks. The other belonged to the
dining-room, which was the apartment in which the mysterious affair had
occurred. Holmes walked in, and I followed him with that subdued feeling
at my heart which the presence of death inspires.

It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the absence
of all furniture. A vulgar flaring paper adorned the walls, but it was
blotched in places with mildew, and here and there great strips had
become detached and hung down, exposing the yellow plaster beneath.
Opposite the door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a mantelpiece of
imitation white marble. On one corner of this was stuck the stump of a
red wax candle. The solitary window was so dirty that the light was
hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge to everything, which was
intensified by the thick layer of dust which coated the whole apartment.

All these details I observed afterwards. At present my attention was
centred upon the single grim motionless figure which lay stretched upon
the boards, with vacant sightless eyes staring up at the discoloured
ceiling. It was that of a man about forty-three or forty-four years of
age, middle-sized, broad shouldered, with crisp curling black hair, and
a short stubbly beard. He was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat
and waistcoat, with light-coloured trousers, and immaculate collar
and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed and trim, was placed upon the floor
beside him. His hands were clenched and his arms thrown abroad, while
his lower limbs were interlocked as though his death struggle had been a
grievous one. On his rigid face there stood an expression of horror,
and as it seemed to me, of hatred, such as I have never seen upon human
features. This malignant and terrible contortion, combined with the low
forehead, blunt nose, and prognathous jaw gave the dead man a singularly
simious and ape-like appearance, which was increased by his writhing,
unnatural posture. I have seen death in many forms, but never has
it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark grimy
apartment, which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban

Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the doorway, and
greeted my companion and myself.

"This case will make a stir, sir," he remarked. "It beats anything I
have seen, and I am no chicken."

"There is no clue?" said Gregson.

"None at all," chimed in Lestrade.

Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down, examined it
intently. "You are sure that there is no wound?" he asked, pointing to
numerous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all round.

"Positive!" cried both detectives.

"Then, of course, this blood belongs to a second individual--[8]
presumably the murderer, if murder has been committed. It reminds me of
the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in
the year '34. Do you remember the case, Gregson?"

"No, sir."

"Read it up--you really should. There is nothing new under the sun. It
has all been done before."

As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and everywhere,
feeling, pressing, unbuttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the same
far-away expression which I have already remarked upon. So swiftly was
the examination made, that one would hardly have guessed the minuteness
with which it was conducted. Finally, he sniffed the dead man's lips,
and then glanced at the soles of his patent leather boots.

"He has not been moved at all?" he asked.

"No more than was necessary for the purposes of our examination."

"You can take him to the mortuary now," he said. "There is nothing more
to be learned."

Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. At his call they entered
the room, and the stranger was lifted and carried out. As they raised
him, a ring tinkled down and rolled across the floor. Lestrade grabbed
it up and stared at it with mystified eyes.

"There's been a woman here," he cried. "It's a woman's wedding-ring."

He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of his hand. We all gathered
round him and gazed at it. There could be no doubt that that circlet of
plain gold had once adorned the finger of a bride.

"This complicates matters," said Gregson. "Heaven knows, they were
complicated enough before."

"Yo're sure it doesn't simplify them?" observed Holmes. "There's
nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you find in his

"We have it all here," said Gregson, pointing to a litter of objects
upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs. "A gold watch, No. 97163, by
Barraud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy and solid. Gold ring,
with masonic device. Gold pin--bull-dog's head, with rubies as eyes.
Russian leather card-case, with cards of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland,
corresponding with the E. J. D. upon the linen. No purse, but loose
money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of
Boccaccio's 'Decameron,' with name of Joseph Stangerson upon the
fly-leaf. Two letters--one addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph

"At what address?"

"American Exchange, Strand--to be left till called for. They are both
from the Guion Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of their
boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this unfortunate man was about to
return to New York."

"Have you made any inquiries as to this man, Stangerson?"

"I did it at once, sir," said Gregson. "I have had advertisements
sent to all the newspapers, and one of my men has gone to the American
Exchange, but he has not returned yet."

"Have you sent to Cleveland?"

"We telegraphed this morning."

"How did you word your inquiries?"

"We simply detailed the circumstances, and said that we should be glad
of any information which could help us."

"You did not ask for particulars on any point which appeared to you to
be crucial?"

"I asked about Stangerson."

"Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on which this whole case appears
to hinge? Will you not telegraph again?"

"I have said all I have to say," said Gregson, in an offended voice.

Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and appeared to be about to make
some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the front room while we
were holding this conversation in the hall, reappeared upon the scene,
rubbing his hands in a pompous and self-satisfied manner.

"Mr. Gregson," he said, "I have just made a discovery of the highest
importance, and one which would have been overlooked had I not made a
careful examination of the walls."

The little man's eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evidently in
a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point against his

"Come here," he said, bustling back into the room, the atmosphere of
which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly inmate. "Now, stand

He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall.

"Look at that!" he said, triumphantly.

I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this
particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a
yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there was
scrawled in blood-red letters a single word--


"What do you think of that?" cried the detective, with the air of a
showman exhibiting his show. "This was overlooked because it was in the
darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there. The
murderer has written it with his or her own blood. See this smear where
it has trickled down the wall! That disposes of the idea of suicide
anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I will tell you. See
that candle on the mantelpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was
lit this corner would be the brightest instead of the darkest portion of
the wall."

"And what does it mean now that you _have_ found it?" asked Gregson in a
depreciatory voice.

"Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the female name
Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time to finish. You mark
my words, when this case comes to be cleared up you will find that a
woman named Rachel has something to do with it. It's all very well for
you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You may be very smart and clever, but
the old hound is the best, when all is said and done."

"I really beg your pardon!" said my companion, who had ruffled the
little man's temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter. "You
certainly have the credit of being the first of us to find this out,
and, as you say, it bears every mark of having been written by the other
participant in last night's mystery. I have not had time to examine this
room yet, but with your permission I shall do so now."

As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round magnifying
glass from his pocket. With these two implements he trotted noiselessly
about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once
lying flat upon his face. So engrossed was he with his occupation that
he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for he chattered away to
himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire
of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of
encouragement and of hope. As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded
of a pure-blooded well-trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and
forwards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes
across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he continued his
researches, measuring with the most exact care the distance between
marks which were entirely invisible to me, and occasionally applying his
tape to the walls in an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place
he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey dust from the floor,
and packed it away in an envelope. Finally, he examined with his glass
the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most
minute exactness. This done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he
replaced his tape and his glass in his pocket.

"They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains," he
remarked with a smile. "It's a very bad definition, but it does apply to
detective work."

Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres [9] of their amateur
companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt. They evidently
failed to appreciate the fact, which I had begun to realize, that
Sherlock Holmes' smallest actions were all directed towards some
definite and practical end.

"What do you think of it, sir?" they both asked.

"It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I was to presume
to help you," remarked my friend. "You are doing so well now that it
would be a pity for anyone to interfere." There was a world of
sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. "If you will let me know how your
investigations go," he continued, "I shall be happy to give you any help
I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the constable who found
the body. Can you give me his name and address?"

Lestrade glanced at his note-book. "John Rance," he said. "He is off
duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate."

Holmes took a note of the address.

"Come along, Doctor," he said; "we shall go and look him up. I'll tell
you one thing which may help you in the case," he continued, turning to
the two detectives. "There has been murder done, and the murderer was a
man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had
small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a
Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab,
which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his
off fore leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid face, and the
finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a
few indications, but they may assist you."

Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile.

"If this man was murdered, how was it done?" asked the former.

"Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. "One other thing,
Lestrade," he added, turning round at the door: "'Rache,' is the German
for 'revenge;' so don't lose your time looking for Miss Rachel."

With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals
open-mouthed behind him.


IT was one o'clock when we left No. 3, Lauriston Gardens. Sherlock
Holmes led me to the nearest telegraph office, whence he dispatched a
long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered the driver to take us
to the address given us by Lestrade.

"There is nothing like first hand evidence," he remarked; "as a matter
of fact, my mind is entirely made up upon the case, but still we may as
well learn all that is to be learned."

"You amaze me, Holmes," said I. "Surely you are not as sure as you
pretend to be of all those particulars which you gave."

"There's no room for a mistake," he answered. "The very first thing
which I observed on arriving there was that a cab had made two ruts with
its wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last night, we have had no rain
for a week, so that those wheels which left such a deep impression must
have been there during the night. There were the marks of the horse's
hoofs, too, the outline of one of which was far more clearly cut than
that of the other three, showing that that was a new shoe. Since the cab
was there after the rain began, and was not there at any time during the
morning--I have Gregson's word for that--it follows that it must have
been there during the night, and, therefore, that it brought those two
individuals to the house."

"That seems simple enough," said I; "but how about the other man's

"Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out of ten, can be told from
the length of his stride. It is a simple calculation enough, though
there is no use my boring you with figures. I had this fellow's stride
both on the clay outside and on the dust within. Then I had a way of
checking my calculation. When a man writes on a wall, his instinct leads
him to write about the level of his own eyes. Now that writing was just
over six feet from the ground. It was child's play."

"And his age?" I asked.

"Well, if a man can stride four and a-half feet without the smallest
effort, he can't be quite in the sere and yellow. That was the breadth
of a puddle on the garden walk which he had evidently walked across.
Patent-leather boots had gone round, and Square-toes had hopped over.
There is no mystery about it at all. I am simply applying to ordinary
life a few of those precepts of observation and deduction which I
advocated in that article. Is there anything else that puzzles you?"

"The finger nails and the Trichinopoly," I suggested.

"The writing on the wall was done with a man's forefinger dipped in
blood. My glass allowed me to observe that the plaster was slightly
scratched in doing it, which would not have been the case if the man's
nail had been trimmed. I gathered up some scattered ash from the floor.
It was dark in colour and flakey--such an ash as is only made by a
Trichinopoly. I have made a special study of cigar ashes--in fact, I
have written a monograph upon the subject. I flatter myself that I can
distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand, either of cigar
or of tobacco. It is just in such details that the skilled detective
differs from the Gregson and Lestrade type."

"And the florid face?" I asked.

"Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I have no doubt that I was
right. You must not ask me that at the present state of the affair."

I passed my hand over my brow. "My head is in a whirl," I remarked; "the
more one thinks of it the more mysterious it grows. How came these two
men--if there were two men--into an empty house? What has become of the
cabman who drove them? How could one man compel another to take poison?
Where did the blood come from? What was the object of the murderer,
since robbery had no part in it? How came the woman's ring there? Above
all, why should the second man write up the German word RACHE before
decamping? I confess that I cannot see any possible way of reconciling
all these facts."

My companion smiled approvingly.

"You sum up the difficulties of the situation succinctly and well," he
said. "There is much that is still obscure, though I have quite made up
my mind on the main facts. As to poor Lestrade's discovery it was simply
a blind intended to put the police upon a wrong track, by suggesting
Socialism and secret societies. It was not done by a German. The A, if
you noticed, was printed somewhat after the German fashion. Now, a real
German invariably prints in the Latin character, so that we may safely
say that this was not written by one, but by a clumsy imitator who
overdid his part. It was simply a ruse to divert inquiry into a wrong
channel. I'm not going to tell you much more of the case, Doctor. You
know a conjuror gets no credit when once he has explained his trick,
and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the
conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all."

"I shall never do that," I answered; "you have brought detection as near
an exact science as it ever will be brought in this world."

My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way
in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive
to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty.

"I'll tell you one other thing," he said. "Patent leathers [10] and
Square-toes came in the same cab, and they walked down the pathway
together as friendly as possible--arm-in-arm, in all probability.
When they got inside they walked up and down the room--or rather,
Patent-leathers stood still while Square-toes walked up and down. I
could read all that in the dust; and I could read that as he walked he
grew more and more excited. That is shown by the increased length of his
strides. He was talking all the while, and working himself up, no doubt,
into a fury. Then the tragedy occurred. I've told you all I know myself
now, for the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have a good working
basis, however, on which to start. We must hurry up, for I want to go to
Halle's concert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon."

This conversation had occurred while our cab had been threading its way
through a long succession of dingy streets and dreary by-ways. In the
dingiest and dreariest of them our driver suddenly came to a stand.
"That's Audley Court in there," he said, pointing to a narrow slit in
the line of dead-coloured brick. "Yo'll find me here when you come

Audley Court was not an attractive locality. The narrow passage led us
into a quadrangle paved with flags and lined by sordid dwellings. We
picked our way among groups of dirty children, and through lines of
discoloured linen, until we came to Number 46, the door of which
was decorated with a small slip of brass on which the name Rance was
engraved. On enquiry we found that the constable was in bed, and we were
shown into a little front parlour to await his coming.

He appeared presently, looking a little irritable at being disturbed in
his slumbers. "I made my report at the office," he said.

Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with it
pensively. "We thought that we should like to hear it all from your own
lips," he said.

"I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can," the constable
answered with his eyes upon the little golden disk.

"Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred."

Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knitted his brows as though
determined not to omit anything in his narrative.

"I'll tell it ye from the beginning," he said. "My time is from ten at
night to six in the morning. At eleven there was a fight at the 'White
Hart'; but bar that all was quiet enough on the beat. At one o'clock it
began to rain, and I met Harry Murcher--him who has the Holland Grove
beat--and we stood together at the corner of Henrietta Street a-talkin'.
Presently--maybe about two or a little after--I thought I would take
a look round and see that all was right down the Brixton Road. It was
precious dirty and lonely. Not a soul did I meet all the way down,
though a cab or two went past me. I was a strollin' down, thinkin'
between ourselves how uncommon handy a four of gin hot would be, when
suddenly the glint of a light caught my eye in the window of that same
house. Now, I knew that them two houses in Lauriston Gardens was empty
on account of him that owns them who won't have the drains seen to,
though the very last tenant what lived in one of them died o' typhoid
fever. I was knocked all in a heap therefore at seeing a light in
the window, and I suspected as something was wrong. When I got to the

"You stopped, and then walked back to the garden gate," my companion
interrupted. "What did you do that for?"

Rance gave a violent jump, and stared at Sherlock Holmes with the utmost
amazement upon his features.

"Why, that's true, sir," he said; "though how you come to know it,
Heaven only knows. Ye see, when I got up to the door it was so still and
so lonesome, that I thought I'd be none the worse for some one with me.
I ain't afeared of anything on this side o' the grave; but I thought
that maybe it was him that died o' the typhoid inspecting the drains
what killed him. The thought gave me a kind o' turn, and I walked back
to the gate to see if I could see Murcher's lantern, but there wasn't no
sign of him nor of anyone else."

"There was no one in the street?"

"Not a livin' soul, sir, nor as much as a dog. Then I pulled myself
together and went back and pushed the door open. All was quiet inside,
so I went into the room where the light was a-burnin'. There was a
candle flickerin' on the mantelpiece--a red wax one--and by its light I

"Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked round the room several times,
and you knelt down by the body, and then you walked through and tried
the kitchen door, and then----"

John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened face and suspicion in
his eyes. "Where was you hid to see all that?" he cried. "It seems to me
that you knows a deal more than you should."

Holmes laughed and threw his card across the table to the constable.
"Don't get arresting me for the murder," he said. "I am one of the
hounds and not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr. Lestrade will answer for
that. Go on, though. What did you do next?"

Rance resumed his seat, without however losing his mystified expression.
"I went back to the gate and sounded my whistle. That brought Murcher
and two more to the spot."

"Was the street empty then?"

"Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be of any good goes."

"What do you mean?"

The constable's features broadened into a grin. "I've seen many a drunk
chap in my time," he said, "but never anyone so cryin' drunk as
that cove. He was at the gate when I came out, a-leanin' up agin the
railings, and a-singin' at the pitch o' his lungs about Columbine's
New-fangled Banner, or some such stuff. He couldn't stand, far less

"What sort of a man was he?" asked Sherlock Holmes.

John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated at this digression. "He was
an uncommon drunk sort o' man," he said. "He'd ha' found hisself in the
station if we hadn't been so took up."

"His face--his dress--didn't you notice them?" Holmes broke in

"I should think I did notice them, seeing that I had to prop him up--me
and Murcher between us. He was a long chap, with a red face, the lower
part muffled round----"

"That will do," cried Holmes. "What became of him?"

"We'd enough to do without lookin' after him," the policeman said, in an
aggrieved voice. "I'll wager he found his way home all right."

"How was he dressed?"

"A brown overcoat."

"Had he a whip in his hand?"

"A whip--no."

"He must have left it behind," muttered my companion. "You didn't happen
to see or hear a cab after that?"


"There's a half-sovereign for you," my companion said, standing up and
taking his hat. "I am afraid, Rance, that you will never rise in the
force. That head of yours should be for use as well as ornament. You
might have gained your sergeant's stripes last night. The man whom you
held in your hands is the man who holds the clue of this mystery, and
whom we are seeking. There is no use of arguing about it now; I tell you
that it is so. Come along, Doctor."

We started off for the cab together, leaving our informant incredulous,
but obviously uncomfortable.

"The blundering fool," Holmes said, bitterly, as we drove back to our
lodgings. "Just to think of his having such an incomparable bit of good
luck, and not taking advantage of it."

"I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the description of this
man tallies with your idea of the second party in this mystery. But why
should he come back to the house after leaving it? That is not the way
of criminals."

"The ring, man, the ring: that was what he came back for. If we have no
other way of catching him, we can always bait our line with the ring. I
shall have him, Doctor--I'll lay you two to one that I have him. I must
thank you for it all. I might not have gone but for you, and so have
missed the finest study I ever came across: a study in scarlet, eh?
Why shouldn't we use a little art jargon. There's the scarlet thread of
murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is
to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it. And now
for lunch, and then for Norman Neruda. Her attack and her bowing
are splendid. What's that little thing of Chopin's she plays so
magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay."

Leaning back in the cab, this amateur bloodhound carolled away like a
lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human mind.


OUR morning's exertions had been too much for my weak health, and I was
tired out in the afternoon. After Holmes' departure for the concert, I
lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get a couple of hours' sleep.
It was a useless attempt. My mind had been too much excited by all that
had occurred, and the strangest fancies and surmises crowded into
it. Every time that I closed my eyes I saw before me the distorted
baboon-like countenance of the murdered man. So sinister was the
impression which that face had produced upon me that I found it
difficult to feel anything but gratitude for him who had removed its
owner from the world. If ever human features bespoke vice of the most
malignant type, they were certainly those of Enoch J. Drebber, of
Cleveland. Still I recognized that justice must be done, and that the
depravity of the victim was no condonment [11] in the eyes of the law.

The more I thought of it the more extraordinary did my companion's
hypothesis, that the man had been poisoned, appear. I remembered how he
had sniffed his lips, and had no doubt that he had detected something
which had given rise to the idea. Then, again, if not poison, what
had caused the man's death, since there was neither wound nor marks of
strangulation? But, on the other hand, whose blood was that which lay so
thickly upon the floor? There were no signs of a struggle, nor had the
victim any weapon with which he might have wounded an antagonist. As
long as all these questions were unsolved, I felt that sleep would be
no easy matter, either for Holmes or myself. His quiet self-confident
manner convinced me that he had already formed a theory which explained
all the facts, though what it was I could not for an instant conjecture.

He was very late in returning--so late, that I knew that the concert
could not have detained him all the time. Dinner was on the table before
he appeared.

"It was magnificent," he said, as he took his seat. "Do you remember
what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and
appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of
speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced
by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries
when the world was in its childhood."

"That's rather a broad idea," I remarked.

"One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret
Nature," he answered. "What's the matter? Yo're not looking quite
yourself. This Brixton Road affair has upset you."

"To tell the truth, it has," I said. "I ought to be more case-hardened
after my Afghan experiences. I saw my own comrades hacked to pieces at
Maiwand without losing my nerve."

"I can understand. There is a mystery about this which stimulates the
imagination; where there is no imagination there is no horror. Have you
seen the evening paper?"


"It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It does not mention the
fact that when the man was raised up, a woman's wedding ring fell upon
the floor. It is just as well it does not."


"Look at this advertisement," he answered. "I had one sent to every
paper this morning immediately after the affair."

He threw the paper across to me and I glanced at the place indicated. It
was the first announcement in the "Found" column. "In Brixton Road,
this morning," it ran, "a plain gold wedding ring, found in the roadway
between the 'White Hart' Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply Dr. Watson,
221B, Baker Street, between eight and nine this evening."

"Excuse my using your name," he said. "If I used my own some of these
dunderheads would recognize it, and want to meddle in the affair."

"That is all right," I answered. "But supposing anyone applies, I have
no ring."

"Oh yes, you have," said he, handing me one. "This will do very well. It
is almost a facsimile."

"And who do you expect will answer this advertisement."

"Why, the man in the brown coat--our florid friend with the square toes.
If he does not come himself he will send an accomplice."

"Would he not consider it as too dangerous?"

"Not at all. If my view of the case is correct, and I have every reason
to believe that it is, this man would rather risk anything than lose the
ring. According to my notion he dropped it while stooping over Drebber's
body, and did not miss it at the time. After leaving the house he
discovered his loss and hurried back, but found the police already in
possession, owing to his own folly in leaving the candle burning. He had
to pretend to be drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might have
been aroused by his appearance at the gate. Now put yourself in that
man's place. On thinking the matter over, it must have occurred to him
that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the road after leaving
the house. What would he do, then? He would eagerly look out for the
evening papers in the hope of seeing it among the articles found. His
eye, of course, would light upon this. He would be overjoyed. Why should
he fear a trap? There would be no reason in his eyes why the finding
of the ring should be connected with the murder. He would come. He will
come. You shall see him within an hour?"

"And then?" I asked.

"Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then. Have you any arms?"

"I have my old service revolver and a few cartridges."

"You had better clean it and load it. He will be a desperate man,
and though I shall take him unawares, it is as well to be ready for

I went to my bedroom and followed his advice. When I returned with
the pistol the table had been cleared, and Holmes was engaged in his
favourite occupation of scraping upon his violin.

"The plot thickens," he said, as I entered; "I have just had an answer
to my American telegram. My view of the case is the correct one."

"And that is?" I asked eagerly.

"My fiddle would be the better for new strings," he remarked. "Put your
pistol in your pocket. When the fellow comes speak to him in an ordinary
way. Leave the rest to me. Don't frighten him by looking at him too

"It is eight o'clock now," I said, glancing at my watch.

"Yes. He will probably be here in a few minutes. Open the door slightly.
That will do. Now put the key on the inside. Thank you! This is a
queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday--'De Jure inter
Gentes'--published in Latin at Liege in the Lowlands, in 1642. Charles'
head was still firm on his shoulders when this little brown-backed
volume was struck off."

"Who is the printer?"

"Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been. On the fly-leaf, in very
faded ink, is written 'Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte.' I wonder who William
Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth century lawyer, I suppose. His
writing has a legal twist about it. Here comes our man, I think."

As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell. Sherlock Holmes rose
softly and moved his chair in the direction of the door. We heard the
servant pass along the hall, and the sharp click of the latch as she
opened it.

"Does Dr. Watson live here?" asked a clear but rather harsh voice. We
could not hear the servant's reply, but the door closed, and some one
began to ascend the stairs. The footfall was an uncertain and shuffling
one. A look of surprise passed over the face of my companion as he
listened to it. It came slowly along the passage, and there was a feeble
tap at the door.

"Come in," I cried.

At my summons, instead of the man of violence whom we expected, a very
old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared to be
dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a curtsey, she
stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket
with nervous, shaky fingers. I glanced at my companion, and his face
had assumed such a disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to
keep my countenance.

The old crone drew out an evening paper, and pointed at our
advertisement. "It's this as has brought me, good gentlemen," she said,
dropping another curtsey; "a gold wedding ring in the Brixton Road. It
belongs to my girl Sally, as was married only this time twelvemonth,
which her husband is steward aboard a Union boat, and what he'd say if
he come 'ome and found her without her ring is more than I can think, he
being short enough at the best o' times, but more especially when he
has the drink. If it please you, she went to the circus last night along

"Is that her ring?" I asked.

"The Lord be thanked!" cried the old woman; "Sally will be a glad woman
this night. That's the ring."

"And what may your address be?" I inquired, taking up a pencil.

"13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch. A weary way from here."

"The Brixton Road does not lie between any circus and Houndsditch," said
Sherlock Holmes sharply.

The old woman faced round and looked keenly at him from her little
red-rimmed eyes. "The gentleman asked me for _my_ address," she said.
"Sally lives in lodgings at 3, Mayfield Place, Peckham."

"And your name is----?"

"My name is Sawyer--her's is Dennis, which Tom Dennis married her--and
a smart, clean lad, too, as long as he's at sea, and no steward in the
company more thought of; but when on shore, what with the women and what
with liquor shops----"

"Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer," I interrupted, in obedience to a sign
from my companion; "it clearly belongs to your daughter, and I am glad
to be able to restore it to the rightful owner."

With many mumbled blessings and protestations of gratitude the old crone
packed it away in her pocket, and shuffled off down the stairs. Sherlock
Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that she was gone and rushed into
his room. He returned in a few seconds enveloped in an ulster and
a cravat. "I'll follow her," he said, hurriedly; "she must be an
accomplice, and will lead me to him. Wait up for me." The hall door had
hardly slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had descended the stair.
Looking through the window I could see her walking feebly along the
other side, while her pursuer dogged her some little distance behind.
"Either his whole theory is incorrect," I thought to myself, "or else he
will be led now to the heart of the mystery." There was no need for him
to ask me to wait up for him, for I felt that sleep was impossible until
I heard the result of his adventure.

It was close upon nine when he set out. I had no idea how long he might
be, but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and skipping over the pages
of Henri Murger's "Vie de Bohème." Ten o'clock passed, and I heard the
footsteps of the maid as they pattered off to bed. Eleven, and the
more stately tread of the landlady passed my door, bound for the same
destination. It was close upon twelve before I heard the sharp sound of
his latch-key. The instant he entered I saw by his face that he had not
been successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be struggling for the
mastery, until the former suddenly carried the day, and he burst into a
hearty laugh.

"I wouldn't have the Scotland Yarders know it for the world," he cried,
dropping into his chair; "I have chaffed them so much that they would
never have let me hear the end of it. I can afford to laugh, because I
know that I will be even with them in the long run."

"What is it then?" I asked.

"Oh, I don't mind telling a story against myself. That creature had
gone a little way when she began to limp and show every sign of being
foot-sore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a four-wheeler which
was passing. I managed to be close to her so as to hear the address, but
I need not have been so anxious, for she sang it out loud enough to
be heard at the other side of the street, 'Drive to 13, Duncan Street,
Houndsditch,' she cried. This begins to look genuine, I thought, and
having seen her safely inside, I perched myself behind. That's an art
which every detective should be an expert at. Well, away we rattled, and
never drew rein until we reached the street in question. I hopped off
before we came to the door, and strolled down the street in an easy,
lounging way. I saw the cab pull up. The driver jumped down, and I saw
him open the door and stand expectantly. Nothing came out though. When
I reached him he was groping about frantically in the empty cab, and
giving vent to the finest assorted collection of oaths that ever I
listened to. There was no sign or trace of his passenger, and I fear it
will be some time before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Number 13
we found that the house belonged to a respectable paperhanger, named
Keswick, and that no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had ever
been heard of there."

"You don't mean to say," I cried, in amazement, "that that tottering,
feeble old woman was able to get out of the cab while it was in motion,
without either you or the driver seeing her?"

"Old woman be damned!" said Sherlock Holmes, sharply. "We were the old
women to be so taken in. It must have been a young man, and an
active one, too, besides being an incomparable actor. The get-up was
inimitable. He saw that he was followed, no doubt, and used this means
of giving me the slip. It shows that the man we are after is not as
lonely as I imagined he was, but has friends who are ready to risk
something for him. Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take my advice
and turn in."

I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed his injunction. I
left Holmes seated in front of the smouldering fire, and long into the
watches of the night I heard the low, melancholy wailings of his violin,
and knew that he was still pondering over the strange problem which he
had set himself to unravel.


THE papers next day were full of the "Brixton Mystery," as they termed
it. Each had a long account of the affair, and some had leaders upon it
in addition. There was some information in them which was new to me. I
still retain in my scrap-book numerous clippings and extracts bearing
upon the case. Here is a condensation of a few of them:--

The _Daily Telegraph_ remarked that in the history of crime there had
seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger features. The German
name of the victim, the absence of all other motive, and the sinister
inscription on the wall, all pointed to its perpetration by political
refugees and revolutionists. The Socialists had many branches in
America, and the deceased had, no doubt, infringed their unwritten laws,
and been tracked down by them. After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht,
aqua tofana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, the Darwinian
theory, the principles of Malthus, and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the
article concluded by admonishing the Government and advocating a closer
watch over foreigners in England.

The _Standard_ commented upon the fact that lawless outrages of the sort
usually occurred under a Liberal Administration. They arose from the
unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the consequent weakening
of all authority. The deceased was an American gentleman who had
been residing for some weeks in the Metropolis. He had stayed at the
boarding-house of Madame Charpentier, in Torquay Terrace, Camberwell.
He was accompanied in his travels by his private secretary, Mr. Joseph
Stangerson. The two bade adieu to their landlady upon Tuesday, the
4th inst., and departed to Euston Station with the avowed intention of
catching the Liverpool express. They were afterwards seen together upon
the platform. Nothing more is known of them until Mr. Drebber's body
was, as recorded, discovered in an empty house in the Brixton Road,
many miles from Euston. How he came there, or how he met his fate, are
questions which are still involved in mystery. Nothing is known of the
whereabouts of Stangerson. We are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and
Mr. Gregson, of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the case, and it
is confidently anticipated that these well-known officers will speedily
throw light upon the matter.

The _Daily News_ observed that there was no doubt as to the crime being
a political one. The despotism and hatred of Liberalism which animated
the Continental Governments had had the effect of driving to our shores
a number of men who might have made excellent citizens were they not
soured by the recollection of all that they had undergone. Among these
men there was a stringent code of honour, any infringement of which was
punished by death. Every effort should be made to find the secretary,
Stangerson, and to ascertain some particulars of the habits of the
deceased. A great step had been gained by the discovery of the address
of the house at which he had boarded--a result which was entirely due to
the acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of Scotland Yard.

Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over together at breakfast, and
they appeared to afford him considerable amusement.

"I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade and Gregson would be sure
to score."

"That depends on how it turns out."

"Oh, bless you, it doesn't matter in the least. If the man is caught, it
will be _on account_ of their exertions; if he escapes, it will be _in
spite_ of their exertions. It's heads I win and tails you lose. Whatever
they do, they will have followers. 'Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot
qui l'admire.'"

"What on earth is this?" I cried, for at this moment there came the
pattering of many steps in the hall and on the stairs, accompanied by
audible expressions of disgust upon the part of our landlady.

"It's the Baker Street division of the detective police force," said my
companion, gravely; and as he spoke there rushed into the room half a
dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that ever I clapped
eyes on.

"'Tention!" cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and the six dirty little
scoundrels stood in a line like so many disreputable statuettes. "In
future you shall send up Wiggins alone to report, and the rest of you
must wait in the street. Have you found it, Wiggins?"

"No, sir, we hain't," said one of the youths.

"I hardly expected you would. You must keep on until you do. Here are
your wages." [13] He handed each of them a shilling.

"Now, off you go, and come back with a better report next time."

He waved his hand, and they scampered away downstairs like so many rats,
and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the street.

"There's more work to be got out of one of those little beggars than
out of a dozen of the force," Holmes remarked. "The mere sight of an
official-looking person seals men's lips. These youngsters, however, go
everywhere and hear everything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all
they want is organisation."

"Is it on this Brixton case that you are employing them?" I asked.

"Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. It is merely a matter
of time. Hullo! we are going to hear some news now with a vengeance!
Here is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude written upon every
feature of his face. Bound for us, I know. Yes, he is stopping. There he

There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a few seconds the
fair-haired detective came up the stairs, three steps at a time, and
burst into our sitting-room.

"My dear fellow," he cried, wringing Holmes' unresponsive hand,
"congratulate me! I have made the whole thing as clear as day."

A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companion's expressive face.

"Do you mean that you are on the right track?" he asked.

"The right track! Why, sir, we have the man under lock and key."

"And his name is?"

"Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her Majesty's navy," cried
Gregson, pompously, rubbing his fat hands and inflating his chest.

Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief, and relaxed into a smile.

"Take a seat, and try one of these cigars," he said. "We are anxious to
know how you managed it. Will you have some whiskey and water?"

"I don't mind if I do," the detective answered. "The tremendous
exertions which I have gone through during the last day or two have worn
me out. Not so much bodily exertion, you understand, as the strain upon
the mind. You will appreciate that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both

"You do me too much honour," said Holmes, gravely. "Let us hear how you
arrived at this most gratifying result."

The detective seated himself in the arm-chair, and puffed complacently
at his cigar. Then suddenly he slapped his thigh in a paroxysm of

"The fun of it is," he cried, "that that fool Lestrade, who thinks
himself so smart, has gone off upon the wrong track altogether. He is
after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the crime
than the babe unborn. I have no doubt that he has caught him by this

The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he choked.

"And how did you get your clue?"

"Ah, I'll tell you all about it. Of course, Doctor Watson, this is
strictly between ourselves. The first difficulty which we had to contend
with was the finding of this American's antecedents. Some people would
have waited until their advertisements were answered, or until parties
came forward and volunteered information. That is not Tobias Gregson's
way of going to work. You remember the hat beside the dead man?"

"Yes," said Holmes; "by John Underwood and Sons, 129, Camberwell Road."

Gregson looked quite crest-fallen.

"I had no idea that you noticed that," he said. "Have you been there?"


"Ha!" cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; "you should never neglect a
chance, however small it may seem."

"To a great mind, nothing is little," remarked Holmes, sententiously.

"Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him if he had sold a hat of that
size and description. He looked over his books, and came on it at once.
He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing at Charpentier's Boarding
Establishment, Torquay Terrace. Thus I got at his address."

"Smart--very smart!" murmured Sherlock Holmes.

"I next called upon Madame Charpentier," continued the detective.
"I found her very pale and distressed. Her daughter was in the room,
too--an uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she was looking red about
the eyes and her lips trembled as I spoke to her. That didn't escape
my notice. I began to smell a rat. You know the feeling, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes, when you come upon the right scent--a kind of thrill in your
nerves. 'Have you heard of the mysterious death of your late boarder Mr.
Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland?' I asked.

"The mother nodded. She didn't seem able to get out a word. The daughter
burst into tears. I felt more than ever that these people knew something
of the matter.

"'At what o'clock did Mr. Drebber leave your house for the train?' I

"'At eight o'clock,' she said, gulping in her throat to keep down her
agitation. 'His secretary, Mr. Stangerson, said that there were two
trains--one at 9.15 and one at 11. He was to catch the first. [14]

"'And was that the last which you saw of him?'

"A terrible change came over the woman's face as I asked the question.
Her features turned perfectly livid. It was some seconds before she
could get out the single word 'Yes'--and when it did come it was in a
husky unnatural tone.

"There was silence for a moment, and then the daughter spoke in a calm
clear voice.

"'No good can ever come of falsehood, mother,' she said. 'Let us be
frank with this gentleman. We _did_ see Mr. Drebber again.'

"'God forgive you!' cried Madame Charpentier, throwing up her hands and
sinking back in her chair. 'You have murdered your brother.'

"'Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,' the girl answered

"'You had best tell me all about it now,' I said. 'Half-confidences are
worse than none. Besides, you do not know how much we know of it.'

"'On your head be it, Alice!' cried her mother; and then, turning to me,
'I will tell you all, sir. Do not imagine that my agitation on behalf
of my son arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand in this
terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of it. My dread is, however,
that in your eyes and in the eyes of others he may appear to be
compromised. That however is surely impossible. His high character, his
profession, his antecedents would all forbid it.'

"'Your best way is to make a clean breast of the facts,' I answered.
'Depend upon it, if your son is innocent he will be none the worse.'

"'Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us together,' she said, and her
daughter withdrew. 'Now, sir,' she continued, 'I had no intention of
telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has disclosed it I
have no alternative. Having once decided to speak, I will tell you all
without omitting any particular.'

"'It is your wisest course,' said I.

"'Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks. He and his secretary,
Mr. Stangerson, had been travelling on the Continent. I noticed a
"Copenhagen" label upon each of their trunks, showing that that had been
their last stopping place. Stangerson was a quiet reserved man, but his
employer, I am sorry to say, was far otherwise. He was coarse in his
habits and brutish in his ways. The very night of his arrival he became
very much the worse for drink, and, indeed, after twelve o'clock in the
day he could hardly ever be said to be sober. His manners towards the
maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar. Worst of all, he
speedily assumed the same attitude towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke
to her more than once in a way which, fortunately, she is too innocent
to understand. On one occasion he actually seized her in his arms and
embraced her--an outrage which caused his own secretary to reproach him
for his unmanly conduct.'

"'But why did you stand all this,' I asked. 'I suppose that you can get
rid of your boarders when you wish.'

"Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question. 'Would to God that
I had given him notice on the very day that he came,' she said. 'But
it was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound a day each--fourteen
pounds a week, and this is the slack season. I am a widow, and my boy in
the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose the money. I acted for the
best. This last was too much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on
account of it. That was the reason of his going.'


"'My heart grew light when I saw him drive away. My son is on leave
just now, but I did not tell him anything of all this, for his temper
is violent, and he is passionately fond of his sister. When I closed the
door behind them a load seemed to be lifted from my mind. Alas, in
less than an hour there was a ring at the bell, and I learned that Mr.
Drebber had returned. He was much excited, and evidently the worse for
drink. He forced his way into the room, where I was sitting with my
daughter, and made some incoherent remark about having missed his train.
He then turned to Alice, and before my very face, proposed to her that
she should fly with him. "You are of age," he said, "and there is no law
to stop you. I have money enough and to spare. Never mind the old girl
here, but come along with me now straight away. You shall live like a
princess." Poor Alice was so frightened that she shrunk away from him,
but he caught her by the wrist and endeavoured to draw her towards the
door. I screamed, and at that moment my son Arthur came into the room.
What happened then I do not know. I heard oaths and the confused sounds
of a scuffle. I was too terrified to raise my head. When I did look up
I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing, with a stick in his hand.
"I don't think that fine fellow will trouble us again," he said. "I will
just go after him and see what he does with himself." With those words
he took his hat and started off down the street. The next morning we
heard of Mr. Drebber's mysterious death.'

"This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier's lips with many gasps and
pauses. At times she spoke so low that I could hardly catch the words. I
made shorthand notes of all that she said, however, so that there should
be no possibility of a mistake."

"It's quite exciting," said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn. "What happened

"When Mrs. Charpentier paused," the detective continued, "I saw that the
whole case hung upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in a way which
I always found effective with women, I asked her at what hour her son

"'I do not know,' she answered.

"'Not know?'

"'No; he has a latch-key, and he let himself in.'

"'After you went to bed?'


"'When did you go to bed?'

"'About eleven.'

"'So your son was gone at least two hours?'


"'Possibly four or five?'


"'What was he doing during that time?'

"'I do not know,' she answered, turning white to her very lips.

"Of course after that there was nothing more to be done. I found
out where Lieutenant Charpentier was, took two officers with me, and
arrested him. When I touched him on the shoulder and warned him to come
quietly with us, he answered us as bold as brass, 'I suppose you
are arresting me for being concerned in the death of that scoundrel
Drebber,' he said. We had said nothing to him about it, so that his
alluding to it had a most suspicious aspect."

"Very," said Holmes.

"He still carried the heavy stick which the mother described him as
having with him when he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak cudgel."

"What is your theory, then?"

"Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as the Brixton Road.
When there, a fresh altercation arose between them, in the course of
which Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit of the stomach,
perhaps, which killed him without leaving any mark. The night was so
wet that no one was about, so Charpentier dragged the body of his victim
into the empty house. As to the candle, and the blood, and the writing
on the wall, and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to throw the
police on to the wrong scent."

"Well done!" said Holmes in an encouraging voice. "Really, Gregson, you
are getting along. We shall make something of you yet."

"I flatter myself that I have managed it rather neatly," the detective
answered proudly. "The young man volunteered a statement, in which he
said that after following Drebber some time, the latter perceived him,
and took a cab in order to get away from him. On his way home he met an
old shipmate, and took a long walk with him. On being asked where this
old shipmate lived, he was unable to give any satisfactory reply. I
think the whole case fits together uncommonly well. What amuses me is to
think of Lestrade, who had started off upon the wrong scent. I am afraid
he won't make much of [15] Why, by Jove, here's the very man himself!"

It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the stairs while we were
talking, and who now entered the room. The assurance and jauntiness
which generally marked his demeanour and dress were, however, wanting.
His face was disturbed and troubled, while his clothes were disarranged
and untidy. He had evidently come with the intention of consulting
with Sherlock Holmes, for on perceiving his colleague he appeared to be
embarrassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling
nervously with his hat and uncertain what to do. "This is a most
extraordinary case," he said at last--"a most incomprehensible affair."

"Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!" cried Gregson, triumphantly. "I
thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed to find the
Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?"

"The Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson," said Lestrade gravely, "was
murdered at Halliday's Private Hotel about six o'clock this morning."


THE intelligence with which Lestrade greeted us was so momentous and so
unexpected, that we were all three fairly dumfoundered. Gregson sprang
out of his chair and upset the remainder of his whiskey and water. I
stared in silence at Sherlock Holmes, whose lips were compressed and his
brows drawn down over his eyes.

"Stangerson too!" he muttered. "The plot thickens."

"It was quite thick enough before," grumbled Lestrade, taking a chair.
"I seem to have dropped into a sort of council of war."

"Are you--are you sure of this piece of intelligence?" stammered

"I have just come from his room," said Lestrade. "I was the first to
discover what had occurred."

"We have been hearing Gregson's view of the matter," Holmes observed.
"Would you mind letting us know what you have seen and done?"

"I have no objection," Lestrade answered, seating himself. "I freely
confess that I was of the opinion that Stangerson was concerned in
the death of Drebber. This fresh development has shown me that I was
completely mistaken. Full of the one idea, I set myself to find out
what had become of the Secretary. They had been seen together at Euston
Station about half-past eight on the evening of the third. At two in the
morning Drebber had been found in the Brixton Road. The question which
confronted me was to find out how Stangerson had been employed between
8.30 and the time of the crime, and what had become of him afterwards.
I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description of the man, and warning
them to keep a watch upon the American boats. I then set to work calling
upon all the hotels and lodging-houses in the vicinity of Euston. You
see, I argued that if Drebber and his companion had become separated,
the natural course for the latter would be to put up somewhere in the
vicinity for the night, and then to hang about the station again next

"They would be likely to agree on some meeting-place beforehand,"
remarked Holmes.

"So it proved. I spent the whole of yesterday evening in making
enquiries entirely without avail. This morning I began very early, and
at eight o'clock I reached Halliday's Private Hotel, in Little George
Street. On my enquiry as to whether a Mr. Stangerson was living there,
they at once answered me in the affirmative.

"'No doubt you are the gentleman whom he was expecting,' they said. 'He
has been waiting for a gentleman for two days.'

"'Where is he now?' I asked.

"'He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called at nine.'

"'I will go up and see him at once,' I said.

"It seemed to me that my sudden appearance might shake his nerves and
lead him to say something unguarded. The Boots volunteered to show me
the room: it was on the second floor, and there was a small corridor
leading up to it. The Boots pointed out the door to me, and was about to
go downstairs again when I saw something that made me feel sickish, in
spite of my twenty years' experience. From under the door there curled
a little red ribbon of blood, which had meandered across the passage and
formed a little pool along the skirting at the other side. I gave a cry,
which brought the Boots back. He nearly fainted when he saw it. The door
was locked on the inside, but we put our shoulders to it, and knocked it
in. The window of the room was open, and beside the window, all huddled
up, lay the body of a man in his nightdress. He was quite dead, and had
been for some time, for his limbs were rigid and cold. When we turned
him over, the Boots recognized him at once as being the same gentleman
who had engaged the room under the name of Joseph Stangerson. The cause
of death was a deep stab in the left side, which must have penetrated
the heart. And now comes the strangest part of the affair. What do you
suppose was above the murdered man?"

I felt a creeping of the flesh, and a presentiment of coming horror,
even before Sherlock Holmes answered.

"The word RACHE, written in letters of blood," he said.

"That was it," said Lestrade, in an awe-struck voice; and we were all
silent for a while.

There was something so methodical and so incomprehensible about the
deeds of this unknown assassin, that it imparted a fresh ghastliness to
his crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough on the field of battle
tingled as I thought of it.

"The man was seen," continued Lestrade. "A milk boy, passing on his way
to the dairy, happened to walk down the lane which leads from the mews
at the back of the hotel. He noticed that a ladder, which usually lay
there, was raised against one of the windows of the second floor, which
was wide open. After passing, he looked back and saw a man descend the
ladder. He came down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined him to
be some carpenter or joiner at work in the hotel. He took no particular
notice of him, beyond thinking in his own mind that it was early for him
to be at work. He has an impression that the man was tall, had a reddish
face, and was dressed in a long, brownish coat. He must have stayed in
the room some little time after the murder, for we found blood-stained
water in the basin, where he had washed his hands, and marks on the
sheets where he had deliberately wiped his knife."

I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer, which
tallied so exactly with his own. There was, however, no trace of
exultation or satisfaction upon his face.

"Did you find nothing in the room which could furnish a clue to the
murderer?" he asked.

"Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber's purse in his pocket, but it seems
that this was usual, as he did all the paying. There was eighty odd
pounds in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever the motives of these
extraordinary crimes, robbery is certainly not one of them. There were
no papers or memoranda in the murdered man's pocket, except a single
telegram, dated from Cleveland about a month ago, and containing
the words, 'J. H. is in Europe.' There was no name appended to this

"And there was nothing else?" Holmes asked.

"Nothing of any importance. The man's novel, with which he had read
himself to sleep was lying upon the bed, and his pipe was on a chair
beside him. There was a glass of water on the table, and on the
window-sill a small chip ointment box containing a couple of pills."

Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an exclamation of delight.

"The last link," he cried, exultantly. "My case is complete."

The two detectives stared at him in amazement.

"I have now in my hands," my companion said, confidently, "all the
threads which have formed such a tangle. There are, of course, details
to be filled in, but I am as certain of all the main facts, from the
time that Drebber parted from Stangerson at the station, up to the
discovery of the body of the latter, as if I had seen them with my own
eyes. I will give you a proof of my knowledge. Could you lay your hand
upon those pills?"

"I have them," said Lestrade, producing a small white box; "I took them
and the purse and the telegram, intending to have them put in a place of
safety at the Police Station. It was the merest chance my taking these
pills, for I am bound to say that I do not attach any importance to

"Give them here," said Holmes. "Now, Doctor," turning to me, "are those
ordinary pills?"

They certainly were not. They were of a pearly grey colour, small,
round, and almost transparent against the light. "From their lightness
and transparency, I should imagine that they are soluble in water," I

"Precisely so," answered Holmes. "Now would you mind going down and
fetching that poor little devil of a terrier which has been bad so long,
and which the landlady wanted you to put out of its pain yesterday."

I went downstairs and carried the dog upstair in my arms. It's laboured
breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not far from its end.
Indeed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it had already exceeded
the usual term of canine existence. I placed it upon a cushion on the

"I will now cut one of these pills in two," said Holmes, and drawing his
penknife he suited the action to the word. "One half we return into the
box for future purposes. The other half I will place in this wine glass,
in which is a teaspoonful of water. You perceive that our friend, the
Doctor, is right, and that it readily dissolves."

"This may be very interesting," said Lestrade, in the injured tone of
one who suspects that he is being laughed at, "I cannot see, however,
what it has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stangerson."

"Patience, my friend, patience! You will find in time that it has
everything to do with it. I shall now add a little milk to make the
mixture palatable, and on presenting it to the dog we find that he laps
it up readily enough."

As he spoke he turned the contents of the wine glass into a saucer and
placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock
Holmes' earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we all sat in
silence, watching the animal intently, and expecting some startling
effect. None such appeared, however. The dog continued to lie stretched
upon tho [16] cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but apparently
neither the better nor the worse for its draught.

Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute followed minute without
result, an expression of the utmost chagrin and disappointment appeared
upon his features. He gnawed his lip, drummed his fingers upon the
table, and showed every other symptom of acute impatience. So great
was his emotion, that I felt sincerely sorry for him, while the two
detectives smiled derisively, by no means displeased at this check which
he had met.

"It can't be a coincidence," he cried, at last springing from his chair
and pacing wildly up and down the room; "it is impossible that it should
be a mere coincidence. The very pills which I suspected in the case of
Drebber are actually found after the death of Stangerson. And yet they
are inert. What can it mean? Surely my whole chain of reasoning cannot
have been false. It is impossible! And yet this wretched dog is none the
worse. Ah, I have it! I have it!" With a perfect shriek of delight he
rushed to the box, cut the other pill in two, dissolved it, added milk,
and presented it to the terrier. The unfortunate creature's tongue
seemed hardly to have been moistened in it before it gave a convulsive
shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid and lifeless as if it had been
struck by lightning.

Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and wiped the perspiration from his
forehead. "I should have more faith," he said; "I ought to know by
this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of
deductions, it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other
interpretation. Of the two pills in that box one was of the most deadly
poison, and the other was entirely harmless. I ought to have known that
before ever I saw the box at all."

This last statement appeared to me to be so startling, that I could
hardly believe that he was in his sober senses. There was the dead dog,
however, to prove that his conjecture had been correct. It seemed to me
that the mists in my own mind were gradually clearing away, and I began
to have a dim, vague perception of the truth.

"All this seems strange to you," continued Holmes, "because you failed
at the beginning of the inquiry to grasp the importance of the single
real clue which was presented to you. I had the good fortune to seize
upon that, and everything which has occurred since then has served to
confirm my original supposition, and, indeed, was the logical sequence
of it. Hence things which have perplexed you and made the case more
obscure, have served to enlighten me and to strengthen my conclusions.
It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. The most
commonplace crime is often the most mysterious because it presents no
new or special features from which deductions may be drawn. This murder
would have been infinitely more difficult to unravel had the body of
the victim been simply found lying in the roadway without any of
those _outré_ and sensational accompaniments which have rendered
it remarkable. These strange details, far from making the case more
difficult, have really had the effect of making it less so."

Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address with considerable
impatience, could contain himself no longer. "Look here, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes," he said, "we are all ready to acknowledge that you are a smart
man, and that you have your own methods of working. We want something
more than mere theory and preaching now, though. It is a case of taking
the man. I have made my case out, and it seems I was wrong. Young
Charpentier could not have been engaged in this second affair. Lestrade
went after his man, Stangerson, and it appears that he was wrong too.
You have thrown out hints here, and hints there, and seem to know more
than we do, but the time has come when we feel that we have a right to
ask you straight how much you do know of the business. Can you name the
man who did it?"

"I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right, sir," remarked Lestrade.
"We have both tried, and we have both failed. You have remarked more
than once since I have been in the room that you had all the evidence
which you require. Surely you will not withhold it any longer."

"Any delay in arresting the assassin," I observed, "might give him time
to perpetrate some fresh atrocity."

Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of irresolution. He
continued to walk up and down the room with his head sunk on his chest
and his brows drawn down, as was his habit when lost in thought.

"There will be no more murders," he said at last, stopping abruptly and
facing us. "You can put that consideration out of the question. You have
asked me if I know the name of the assassin. I do. The mere knowing of
his name is a small thing, however, compared with the power of laying
our hands upon him. This I expect very shortly to do. I have good hopes
of managing it through my own arrangements; but it is a thing which
needs delicate handling, for we have a shrewd and desperate man to deal
with, who is supported, as I have had occasion to prove, by another who
is as clever as himself. As long as this man has no idea that anyone
can have a clue there is some chance of securing him; but if he had the
slightest suspicion, he would change his name, and vanish in an instant
among the four million inhabitants of this great city. Without meaning
to hurt either of your feelings, I am bound to say that I consider these
men to be more than a match for the official force, and that is why I
have not asked your assistance. If I fail I shall, of course, incur all
the blame due to this omission; but that I am prepared for. At present
I am ready to promise that the instant that I can communicate with you
without endangering my own combinations, I shall do so."

Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from satisfied by this assurance,
or by the depreciating allusion to the detective police. The former had
flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair, while the other's beady eyes
glistened with curiosity and resentment. Neither of them had time to
speak, however, before there was a tap at the door, and the spokesman
of the street Arabs, young Wiggins, introduced his insignificant and
unsavoury person.

"Please, sir," he said, touching his forelock, "I have the cab

"Good boy," said Holmes, blandly. "Why don't you introduce this pattern
at Scotland Yard?" he continued, taking a pair of steel handcuffs from
a drawer. "See how beautifully the spring works. They fasten in an

"The old pattern is good enough," remarked Lestrade, "if we can only
find the man to put them on."

"Very good, very good," said Holmes, smiling. "The cabman may as well
help me with my boxes. Just ask him to step up, Wiggins."

I was surprised to find my companion speaking as though he were about
to set out on a journey, since he had not said anything to me about it.
There was a small portmanteau in the room, and this he pulled out and
began to strap. He was busily engaged at it when the cabman entered the

"Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman," he said, kneeling over
his task, and never turning his head.

The fellow came forward with a somewhat sullen, defiant air, and put
down his hands to assist. At that instant there was a sharp click, the
jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet again.

"Gentlemen," he cried, with flashing eyes, "let me introduce you to Mr.
Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph Stangerson."

The whole thing occurred in a moment--so quickly that I had no time
to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes'
triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman's
dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had
appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or two we might
have been a group of statues. Then, with an inarticulate roar of fury,
the prisoner wrenched himself free from Holmes's grasp, and hurled
himself through the window. Woodwork and glass gave way before him; but
before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes sprang upon
him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back into the room, and then
commenced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so fierce was he, that
the four of us were shaken off again and again. He appeared to have the
convulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His face and hands
were terribly mangled by his passage through the glass, but loss of
blood had no effect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until
Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neckcloth and
half-strangling him that we made him realize that his struggles were of
no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his
feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and

"We have his cab," said Sherlock Holmes. "It will serve to take him to
Scotland Yard. And now, gentlemen," he continued, with a pleasant smile,
"we have reached the end of our little mystery. You are very welcome to
put any questions that you like to me now, and there is no danger that I
will refuse to answer them."

PART II. _The Country of the Saints._


IN the central portion of the great North American Continent there lies
an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long year served as a
barrier against the advance of civilisation. From the Sierra Nevada to
Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado
upon the south, is a region of desolation and silence. Nor is Nature
always in one mood throughout this grim district. It comprises
snow-capped and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy valleys. There are
swift-flowing rivers which dash through jagged cañons; and there are
enormous plains, which in winter are white with snow, and in summer are
grey with the saline alkali dust. They all preserve, however, the common
characteristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery.

There are no inhabitants of this land of despair. A band of Pawnees
or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order to reach other
hunting-grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad to lose sight
of those awesome plains, and to find themselves once more upon their
prairies. The coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard flaps heavily
through the air, and the clumsy grizzly bear lumbers through the dark
ravines, and picks up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks. These
are the sole dwellers in the wilderness.

In the whole world there can be no more dreary view than that from
the northern slope of the Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye can reach
stretches the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with patches of
alkali, and intersected by clumps of the dwarfish chaparral bushes. On
the extreme verge of the horizon lie a long chain of mountain peaks,
with their rugged summits flecked with snow. In this great stretch of
country there is no sign of life, nor of anything appertaining to life.
There is no bird in the steel-blue heaven, no movement upon the dull,
grey earth--above all, there is absolute silence. Listen as one may,
there is no shadow of a sound in all that mighty wilderness; nothing but
silence--complete and heart-subduing silence.

It has been said there is nothing appertaining to life upon the broad
plain. That is hardly true. Looking down from the Sierra Blanco, one
sees a pathway traced out across the desert, which winds away and is
lost in the extreme distance. It is rutted with wheels and trodden down
by the feet of many adventurers. Here and there there are scattered
white objects which glisten in the sun, and stand out against the dull
deposit of alkali. Approach, and examine them! They are bones: some
large and coarse, others smaller and more delicate. The former have
belonged to oxen, and the latter to men. For fifteen hundred miles one
may trace this ghastly caravan route by these scattered remains of those
who had fallen by the wayside.

Looking down on this very scene, there stood upon the fourth of May,
eighteen hundred and forty-seven, a solitary traveller. His appearance
was such that he might have been the very genius or demon of the region.
An observer would have found it difficult to say whether he was nearer
to forty or to sixty. His face was lean and haggard, and the brown
parchment-like skin was drawn tightly over the projecting bones; his
long, brown hair and beard were all flecked and dashed with white; his
eyes were sunken in his head, and burned with an unnatural lustre; while
the hand which grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy than that of a
skeleton. As he stood, he leaned upon his weapon for support, and yet
his tall figure and the massive framework of his bones suggested a wiry
and vigorous constitution. His gaunt face, however, and his clothes,
which hung so baggily over his shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it
was that gave him that senile and decrepit appearance. The man was
dying--dying from hunger and from thirst.

He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and on to this little
elevation, in the vain hope of seeing some signs of water. Now the great
salt plain stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of savage
mountains, without a sign anywhere of plant or tree, which might
indicate the presence of moisture. In all that broad landscape there
was no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west he looked with wild
questioning eyes, and then he realised that his wanderings had come to
an end, and that there, on that barren crag, he was about to die. "Why
not here, as well as in a feather bed, twenty years hence," he muttered,
as he seated himself in the shelter of a boulder.

Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the ground his useless rifle,
and also a large bundle tied up in a grey shawl, which he had carried
slung over his right shoulder. It appeared to be somewhat too heavy for
his strength, for in lowering it, it came down on the ground with some
little violence. Instantly there broke from the grey parcel a little
moaning cry, and from it there protruded a small, scared face, with very
bright brown eyes, and two little speckled, dimpled fists.

"Yo've hurt me!" said a childish voice reproachfully.

"Have I though," the man answered penitently, "I didn't go for to do
it." As he spoke he unwrapped the grey shawl and extricated a pretty
little girl of about five years of age, whose dainty shoes and smart
pink frock with its little linen apron all bespoke a mother's care. The
child was pale and wan, but her healthy arms and legs showed that she
had suffered less than her companion.

"How is it now?" he answered anxiously, for she was still rubbing the
towsy golden curls which covered the back of her head.

"Kiss it and make it well," she said, with perfect gravity, shoving
[19] the injured part up to him. "That's what mother used to do. Where's

"Mother's gone. I guess yo'll see her before long."

"Gone, eh!" said the little girl. "Funny, she didn't say good-bye; she
'most always did if she was just goin' over to Auntie's for tea, and now
she's been away three days. Say, it's awful dry, ain't it? Ain't there
no water, nor nothing to eat?"

"No, there ain't nothing, dearie. Yo'll just need to be patient awhile,
and then yo'll be all right. Put your head up agin me like that, and
then yo'll feel bullier. It ain't easy to talk when your lips is like
leather, but I guess I'd best let you know how the cards lie. What's
that yo've got?"

"Pretty things! fine things!" cried the little girl enthusiastically,
holding up two glittering fragments of mica. "When we goes back to home
I'll give them to brother Bob."

"Yo'll see prettier things than them soon," said the man confidently.
"You just wait a bit. I was going to tell you though--you remember when
we left the river?"

"Oh, yes."

"Well, we reckoned we'd strike another river soon, d'ye see. But there
was somethin' wrong; compasses, or map, or somethin', and it didn't
turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop for the likes of you

"And you couldn't wash yourself," interrupted his companion gravely,
staring up at his grimy visage.

"No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the fust to go, and then Indian
Pete, and then Mrs. McGregor, and then Johnny Hones, and then, dearie,
your mother."

"Then mother's a deader too," cried the little girl dropping her face in
her pinafore and sobbing bitterly.

"Yes, they all went except you and me. Then I thought there was some
chance of water in this direction, so I heaved you over my shoulder and
we tramped it together. It don't seem as though we've improved matters.
There's an almighty small chance for us now!"

"Do you mean that we are going to die too?" asked the child, checking
her sobs, and raising her tear-stained face.

"I guess that's about the size of it."

"Why didn't you say so before?" she said, laughing gleefully. "You gave
me such a fright. Why, of course, now as long as we die we'll be with
mother again."

"Yes, you will, dearie."

"And you too. I'll tell her how awful good yo've been. I'll bet she
meets us at the door of Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot
of buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides, like Bob and me was
fond of. How long will it be first?"

"I don't know--not very long." The man's eyes were fixed upon the
northern horizon. In the blue vault of the heaven there had appeared
three little specks which increased in size every moment, so rapidly did
they approach. They speedily resolved themselves into three large brown
birds, which circled over the heads of the two wanderers, and then
settled upon some rocks which overlooked them. They were buzzards, the
vultures of the west, whose coming is the forerunner of death.

"Cocks and hens," cried the little girl gleefully, pointing at their
ill-omened forms, and clapping her hands to make them rise. "Say, did
God make this country?"

"In course He did," said her companion, rather startled by this
unexpected question.

"He made the country down in Illinois, and He made the Missouri," the
little girl continued. "I guess somebody else made the country in these
parts. It's not nearly so well done. They forgot the water and the

"What would ye think of offering up prayer?" the man asked diffidently.

"It ain't night yet," she answered.

"It don't matter. It ain't quite regular, but He won't mind that, you
bet. You say over them ones that you used to say every night in the
waggon when we was on the Plains."

"Why don't you say some yourself?" the child asked, with wondering eyes.

"I disremember them," he answered. "I hain't said none since I was half
the height o' that gun. I guess it's never too late. You say them out,
and I'll stand by and come in on the choruses."

"Then yo'll need to kneel down, and me too," she said, laying the shawl
out for that purpose. "Yo've got to put your hands up like this. It
makes you feel kind o' good."

It was a strange sight had there been anything but the buzzards to see
it. Side by side on the narrow shawl knelt the two wanderers, the little
prattling child and the reckless, hardened adventurer. Her chubby face,
and his haggard, angular visage were both turned up to the cloudless
heaven in heartfelt entreaty to that dread being with whom they were
face to face, while the two voices--the one thin and clear, the other
deep and harsh--united in the entreaty for mercy and forgiveness. The
prayer finished, they resumed their seat in the shadow of the boulder
until the child fell asleep, nestling upon the broad breast of her
protector. He watched over her slumber for some time, but Nature proved
to be too strong for him. For three days and three nights he had allowed
himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly the eyelids drooped over the
tired eyes, and the head sunk lower and lower upon the breast, until the
man's grizzled beard was mixed with the gold tresses of his companion,
and both slept the same deep and dreamless slumber.

Had the wanderer remained awake for another half hour a strange sight
would have met his eyes. Far away on the extreme verge of the alkali
plain there rose up a little spray of dust, very slight at first, and
hardly to be distinguished from the mists of the distance, but gradually
growing higher and broader until it formed a solid, well-defined cloud.
This cloud continued to increase in size until it became evident that it
could only be raised by a great multitude of moving creatures. In more
fertile spots the observer would have come to the conclusion that one
of those great herds of bisons which graze upon the prairie land was
approaching him. This was obviously impossible in these arid wilds. As
the whirl of dust drew nearer to the solitary bluff upon which the two
castaways were reposing, the canvas-covered tilts of waggons and the
figures of armed horsemen began to show up through the haze, and the
apparition revealed itself as being a great caravan upon its journey for
the West. But what a caravan! When the head of it had reached the base
of the mountains, the rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right
across the enormous plain stretched the straggling array, waggons
and carts, men on horseback, and men on foot. Innumerable women who
staggered along under burdens, and children who toddled beside the
waggons or peeped out from under the white coverings. This was evidently
no ordinary party of immigrants, but rather some nomad people who had
been compelled from stress of circumstances to seek themselves a new
country. There rose through the clear air a confused clattering and
rumbling from this great mass of humanity, with the creaking of wheels
and the neighing of horses. Loud as it was, it was not sufficient to
rouse the two tired wayfarers above them.

At the head of the column there rode a score or more of grave ironfaced
men, clad in sombre homespun garments and armed with rifles. On reaching
the base of the bluff they halted, and held a short council among

"The wells are to the right, my brothers," said one, a hard-lipped,
clean-shaven man with grizzly hair.

"To the right of the Sierra Blanco--so we shall reach the Rio Grande,"
said another.

"Fear not for water," cried a third. "He who could draw it from the
rocks will not now abandon His own chosen people."

"Amen! Amen!" responded the whole party.

They were about to resume their journey when one of the youngest and
keenest-eyed uttered an exclamation and pointed up at the rugged crag
above them. From its summit there fluttered a little wisp of pink,
showing up hard and bright against the grey rocks behind. At the sight
there was a general reining up of horses and unslinging of guns, while
fresh horsemen came galloping up to reinforce the vanguard. The word
'Redskins' was on every lip.

"There can't be any number of Injuns here," said the elderly man who
appeared to be in command. "We have passed the Pawnees, and there are no
other tribes until we cross the great mountains."

"Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stangerson," asked one of the band.

"And I," "and I," cried a dozen voices.

"Leave your horses below and we will await you here," the Elder
answered. In a moment the young fellows had dismounted, fastened their
horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope which led up to the
object which had excited their curiosity. They advanced rapidly and
noiselessly, with the confidence and dexterity of practised scouts.
The watchers from the plain below could see them flit from rock to rock
until their figures stood out against the skyline. The young man who had
first given the alarm was leading them. Suddenly his followers saw him
throw up his hands, as though overcome with astonishment, and on joining
him they were affected in the same way by the sight which met their

On the little plateau which crowned the barren hill there stood a
single giant boulder, and against this boulder there lay a tall man,
long-bearded and hard-featured, but of an excessive thinness. His placid
face and regular breathing showed that he was fast asleep. Beside him
lay a little child, with her round white arms encircling his brown
sinewy neck, and her golden haired head resting upon the breast of his
velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips were parted, showing the regular line of
snow-white teeth within, and a playful smile played over her infantile
features. Her plump little white legs terminating in white socks and
neat shoes with shining buckles, offered a strange contrast to the long
shrivelled members of her companion. On the ledge of rock above this
strange couple there stood three solemn buzzards, who, at the sight of
the new comers uttered raucous screams of disappointment and flapped
sullenly away.

The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleepers who stared about [20]
them in bewilderment. The man staggered to his feet and looked down upon
the plain which had been so desolate when sleep had overtaken him, and
which was now traversed by this enormous body of men and of beasts. His
face assumed an expression of incredulity as he gazed, and he passed his
boney hand over his eyes. "This is what they call delirium, I guess,"
he muttered. The child stood beside him, holding on to the skirt of
his coat, and said nothing but looked all round her with the wondering
questioning gaze of childhood.

The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two castaways that
their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized the little girl,
and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others supported her gaunt
companion, and assisted him towards the waggons.

"My name is John Ferrier," the wanderer explained; "me and that little
un are all that's left o' twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o'
thirst and hunger away down in the south."

"Is she your child?" asked someone.

"I guess she is now," the other cried, defiantly; "she's mine 'cause I
saved her. No man will take her from me. She's Lucy Ferrier from this
day on. Who are you, though?" he continued, glancing with curiosity at
his stalwart, sunburned rescuers; "there seems to be a powerful lot of

"Nigh upon ten thousand," said one of the young men; "we are the
persecuted children of God--the chosen of the Angel Merona."

"I never heard tell on him," said the wanderer. "He appears to have
chosen a fair crowd of ye."

"Do not jest at that which is sacred," said the other sternly. "We are
of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters
on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto the holy Joseph Smith
at Palmyra. We have come from Nauvoo, in the State of Illinois, where we
had founded our temple. We have come to seek a refuge from the violent
man and from the godless, even though it be the heart of the desert."

The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recollections to John Ferrier. "I
see," he said, "you are the Mormons."

"We are the Mormons," answered his companions with one voice.

"And where are you going?"

"We do not know. The hand of God is leading us under the person of our
Prophet. You must come before him. He shall say what is to be done with

They had reached the base of the hill by this time, and were surrounded
by crowds of the pilgrims--pale-faced meek-looking women, strong
laughing children, and anxious earnest-eyed men. Many were the cries
of astonishment and of commiseration which arose from them when they
perceived the youth of one of the strangers and the destitution of the
other. Their escort did not halt, however, but pushed on, followed by
a great crowd of Mormons, until they reached a waggon, which was
conspicuous for its great size and for the gaudiness and smartness of
its appearance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas the others were
furnished with two, or, at most, four a-piece. Beside the driver there
sat a man who could not have been more than thirty years of age, but
whose massive head and resolute expression marked him as a leader. He
was reading a brown-backed volume, but as the crowd approached he laid
it aside, and listened attentively to an account of the episode. Then he
turned to the two castaways.

"If we take you with us," he said, in solemn words, "it can only be as
believers in our own creed. We shall have no wolves in our fold. Better
far that your bones should bleach in this wilderness than that you
should prove to be that little speck of decay which in time corrupts the
whole fruit. Will you come with us on these terms?"

"Guess I'll come with you on any terms," said Ferrier, with such
emphasis that the grave Elders could not restrain a smile. The leader
alone retained his stern, impressive expression.

"Take him, Brother Stangerson," he said, "give him food and drink,
and the child likewise. Let it be your task also to teach him our holy
creed. We have delayed long enough. Forward! On, on to Zion!"

"On, on to Zion!" cried the crowd of Mormons, and the words rippled down
the long caravan, passing from mouth to mouth until they died away in a
dull murmur in the far distance. With a cracking of whips and a creaking
of wheels the great waggons got into motion, and soon the whole caravan
was winding along once more. The Elder to whose care the two waifs
had been committed, led them to his waggon, where a meal was already
awaiting them.

"You shall remain here," he said. "In a few days you will have recovered
from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember that now and for ever you
are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, and he has spoken with
the voice of Joseph Smith, which is the voice of God."


THIS is not the place to commemorate the trials and privations endured
by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their final haven. From the
shores of the Mississippi to the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains
they had struggled on with a constancy almost unparalleled in history.
The savage man, and the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and
disease--every impediment which Nature could place in the way, had all
been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet the long journey and the
accumulated terrors had shaken the hearts of the stoutest among them.
There was not one who did not sink upon his knees in heartfelt prayer
when they saw the broad valley of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath
them, and learned from the lips of their leader that this was the
promised land, and that these virgin acres were to be theirs for

Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator as well as a
resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts prepared, in which the future
city was sketched out. All around farms were apportioned and allotted in
proportion to the standing of each individual. The tradesman was put
to his trade and the artisan to his calling. In the town streets and
squares sprang up, as if by magic. In the country there was draining
and hedging, planting and clearing, until the next summer saw the whole
country golden with the wheat crop. Everything prospered in the strange
settlement. Above all, the great temple which they had erected in the
centre of the city grew ever taller and larger. From the first blush of
dawn until the closing of the twilight, the clatter of the hammer
and the rasp of the saw was never absent from the monument which the
immigrants erected to Him who had led them safe through many dangers.

The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl who had shared his
fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter, accompanied the Mormons
to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little Lucy Ferrier was borne
along pleasantly enough in Elder Stangerson's waggon, a retreat which
she shared with the Mormon's three wives and with his son, a headstrong
forward boy of twelve. Having rallied, with the elasticity of childhood,
from the shock caused by her mother's death, she soon became a pet
with the women, and reconciled herself to this new life in her moving
canvas-covered home. In the meantime Ferrier having recovered from his
privations, distinguished himself as a useful guide and an indefatigable
hunter. So rapidly did he gain the esteem of his new companions, that
when they reached the end of their wanderings, it was unanimously agreed
that he should be provided with as large and as fertile a tract of land
as any of the settlers, with the exception of Young himself, and of
Stangerson, Kemball, Johnston, and Drebber, who were the four principal

On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a substantial
log-house, which received so many additions in succeeding years that it
grew into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practical turn of mind,
keen in his dealings and skilful with his hands. His iron constitution
enabled him to work morning and evening at improving and tilling his
lands. Hence it came about that his farm and all that belonged to
him prospered exceedingly. In three years he was better off than his
neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine he was rich, and in twelve
there were not half a dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who could
compare with him. From the great inland sea to the distant Wahsatch
Mountains there was no name better known than that of John Ferrier.

There was one way and only one in which he offended the susceptibilities
of his co-religionists. No argument or persuasion could ever induce him
to set up a female establishment after the manner of his companions. He
never gave reasons for this persistent refusal, but contented himself by
resolutely and inflexibly adhering to his determination. There were some
who accused him of lukewarmness in his adopted religion, and others who
put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur expense. Others,
again, spoke of some early love affair, and of a fair-haired girl who
had pined away on the shores of the Atlantic. Whatever the reason,
Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In every other respect he conformed
to the religion of the young settlement, and gained the name of being an
orthodox and straight-walking man.

Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her adopted
father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the mountains and the
balsamic odour of the pine trees took the place of nurse and mother to
the young girl. As year succeeded to year she grew taller and stronger,
her cheek more rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon
the high road which ran by Ferrier's farm felt long-forgotten thoughts
revive in their mind as they watched her lithe girlish figure tripping
through the wheatfields, or met her mounted upon her father's mustang,
and managing it with all the ease and grace of a true child of the West.
So the bud blossomed into a flower, and the year which saw her father
the richest of the farmers left her as fair a specimen of American
girlhood as could be found in the whole Pacific slope.

It was not the father, however, who first discovered that the child had
developed into the woman. It seldom is in such cases. That mysterious
change is too subtle and too gradual to be measured by dates. Least of
all does the maiden herself know it until the tone of a voice or the
touch of a hand sets her heart thrilling within her, and she learns,
with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and a larger nature has
awoken within her. There are few who cannot recall that day and remember
the one little incident which heralded the dawn of a new life. In the
case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was serious enough in itself, apart
from its future influence on her destiny and that of many besides.

It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were as busy as
the bees whose hive they have chosen for their emblem. In the fields and
in the streets rose the same hum of human industry. Down the dusty high
roads defiled long streams of heavily-laden mules, all heading to the
west, for the gold fever had broken out in California, and the Overland
Route lay through the City of the Elect. There, too, were droves of
sheep and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture lands, and trains
of tired immigrants, men and horses equally weary of their interminable
journey. Through all this motley assemblage, threading her way with the
skill of an accomplished rider, there galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair
face flushed with the exercise and her long chestnut hair floating out
behind her. She had a commission from her father in the City, and was
dashing in as she had done many a time before, with all the fearlessness
of youth, thinking only of her task and how it was to be performed. The
travel-stained adventurers gazed after her in astonishment, and even
the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their pelties, relaxed their
accustomed stoicism as they marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced

She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the road
blocked by a great drove of cattle, driven by a half-dozen wild-looking
herdsmen from the plains. In her impatience she endeavoured to pass this
obstacle by pushing her horse into what appeared to be a gap. Scarcely
had she got fairly into it, however, before the beasts closed in behind
her, and she found herself completely imbedded in the moving stream of
fierce-eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she was to deal with
cattle, she was not alarmed at her situation, but took advantage of
every opportunity to urge her horse on in the hopes of pushing her way
through the cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns of one of the creatures,
either by accident or design, came in violent contact with the flank of
the mustang, and excited it to madness. In an instant it reared up upon
its hind legs with a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way that
would have unseated any but a most skilful rider. The situation was full
of peril. Every plunge of the excited horse brought it against the horns
again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all that the girl could
do to keep herself in the saddle, yet a slip would mean a terrible death
under the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals. Unaccustomed to
sudden emergencies, her head began to swim, and her grip upon the bridle
to relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and by the steam from the
struggling creatures, she might have abandoned her efforts in despair,
but for a kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of assistance. At
the same moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse by
the curb, and forcing a way through the drove, soon brought her to the

"Yo're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her preserver, respectfully.

She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and laughed saucily. "I'm awful
frightened," she said, naively; "whoever would have thought that Poncho
would have been so scared by a lot of cows?"

"Thank God you kept your seat," the other said earnestly. He was a tall,
savage-looking young fellow, mounted on a powerful roan horse, and
clad in the rough dress of a hunter, with a long rifle slung over his
shoulders. "I guess you are the daughter of John Ferrier," he remarked,
"I saw you ride down from his house. When you see him, ask him if he
remembers the Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If he's the same Ferrier, my
father and he were pretty thick."

"Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" she asked, demurely.

The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion, and his dark eyes
sparkled with pleasure. "I'll do so," he said, "we've been in the
mountains for two months, and are not over and above in visiting
condition. He must take us as he finds us."

"He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I," she answered,
"he's awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on me he'd have never
got over it."

"Neither would I," said her companion.

"You! Well, I don't see that it would make much matter to you, anyhow.
You ain't even a friend of ours."

The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this remark that Lucy
Ferrier laughed aloud.

"There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of course, you are a friend now.
You must come and see us. Now I must push along, or father won't trust
me with his business any more. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and bending over
her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round, gave it a cut with her
riding-whip, and darted away down the broad road in a rolling cloud of

Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions, gloomy and taciturn.
He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains prospecting for silver,
and were returning to Salt Lake City in the hope of raising capital
enough to work some lodes which they had discovered. He had been as keen
as any of them upon the business until this sudden incident had drawn
his thoughts into another channel. The sight of the fair young girl,
as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, had stirred his volcanic,
untamed heart to its very depths. When she had vanished from his sight,
he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and that neither silver
speculations nor any other questions could ever be of such importance to
him as this new and all-absorbing one. The love which had sprung up in
his heart was not the sudden, changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the
wild, fierce passion of a man of strong will and imperious temper. He
had been accustomed to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in
his heart that he would not fail in this if human effort and human
perseverance could render him successful.

He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again, until
his face was a familiar one at the farm-house. John, cooped up in the
valley, and absorbed in his work, had had little chance of learning
the news of the outside world during the last twelve years. All this
Jefferson Hope was able to tell him, and in a style which interested
Lucy as well as her father. He had been a pioneer in California, and
could narrate many a strange tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost
in those wild, halcyon days. He had been a scout too, and a trapper, a
silver explorer, and a ranchman. Wherever stirring adventures were to be
had, Jefferson Hope had been there in search of them. He soon became a
favourite with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his virtues. On
such occasions, Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek and her bright,
happy eyes, showed only too clearly that her young heart was no longer
her own. Her honest father may not have observed these symptoms,
but they were assuredly not thrown away upon the man who had won her

It was a summer evening when he came galloping down the road and pulled
up at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came down to meet him. He
threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the pathway.

"I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands in his, and gazing
tenderly down into her face; "I won't ask you to come with me now, but
will you be ready to come when I am here again?"

"And when will that be?" she asked, blushing and laughing.

"A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim you then, my
darling. There's no one who can stand between us."

"And how about father?" she asked.

"He has given his consent, provided we get these mines working all
right. I have no fear on that head."

"Oh, well; of course, if you and father have arranged it all, there's
no more to be said," she whispered, with her cheek against his broad

"Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her. "It is
settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will be to go. They are
waiting for me at the cañon. Good-bye, my own darling--good-bye. In two
months you shall see me."

He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, flinging himself upon his
horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking round, as though
afraid that his resolution might fail him if he took one glance at
what he was leaving. She stood at the gate, gazing after him until
he vanished from her sight. Then she walked back into the house, the
happiest girl in all Utah.


THREE weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope and his comrades had
departed from Salt Lake City. John Ferrier's heart was sore within him
when he thought of the young man's return, and of the impending loss of
his adopted child. Yet her bright and happy face reconciled him to
the arrangement more than any argument could have done. He had always
determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever
induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such a marriage he
regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever
he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was
inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to
express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in
the Land of the Saints.

Yes, a dangerous matter--so dangerous that even the most saintly dared
only whisper their religious opinions with bated breath, lest something
which fell from their lips might be misconstrued, and bring down a
swift retribution upon them. The victims of persecution had now turned
persecutors on their own account, and persecutors of the most
terrible description. Not the Inquisition of Seville, nor the German
Vehm-gericht, nor the Secret Societies of Italy, were ever able to put
a more formidable machinery in motion than that which cast a cloud over
the State of Utah.

Its invisibility, and the mystery which was attached to it, made
this organization doubly terrible. It appeared to be omniscient and
omnipotent, and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man who held out
against the Church vanished away, and none knew whither he had gone or
what had befallen him. His wife and his children awaited him at home,
but no father ever returned to tell them how he had fared at the
hands of his secret judges. A rash word or a hasty act was followed
by annihilation, and yet none knew what the nature might be of this
terrible power which was suspended over them. No wonder that men
went about in fear and trembling, and that even in the heart of the
wilderness they dared not whisper the doubts which oppressed them.

At first this vague and terrible power was exercised only upon the
recalcitrants who, having embraced the Mormon faith, wished afterwards
to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it took a wider range. The
supply of adult women was running short, and polygamy without a female
population on which to draw was a barren doctrine indeed. Strange
rumours began to be bandied about--rumours of murdered immigrants and
rifled camps in regions where Indians had never been seen. Fresh women
appeared in the harems of the Elders--women who pined and wept, and
bore upon their faces the traces of an unextinguishable horror. Belated
wanderers upon the mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked,
stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them in the darkness. These
tales and rumours took substance and shape, and were corroborated and
re-corroborated, until they resolved themselves into a definite name.
To this day, in the lonely ranches of the West, the name of the Danite
Band, or the Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one.

Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such terrible
results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror which it
inspired in the minds of men. None knew who belonged to this ruthless
society. The names of the participators in the deeds of blood and
violence done under the name of religion were kept profoundly secret.
The very friend to whom you communicated your misgivings as to the
Prophet and his mission, might be one of those who would come forth at
night with fire and sword to exact a terrible reparation. Hence every
man feared his neighbour, and none spoke of the things which were
nearest his heart.

One fine morning, John Ferrier was about to set out to his wheatfields,
when he heard the click of the latch, and, looking through the window,
saw a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged man coming up the pathway. His
heart leapt to his mouth, for this was none other than the great Brigham
Young himself. Full of trepidation--for he knew that such a visit boded
him little good--Ferrier ran to the door to greet the Mormon chief. The
latter, however, received his salutations coldly, and followed him with
a stern face into the sitting-room.

"Brother Ferrier," he said, taking a seat, and eyeing the farmer keenly
from under his light-coloured eyelashes, "the true believers have been
good friends to you. We picked you up when you were starving in the
desert, we shared our food with you, led you safe to the Chosen Valley,
gave you a goodly share of land, and allowed you to wax rich under our
protection. Is not this so?"

"It is so," answered John Ferrier.

"In return for all this we asked but one condition: that was, that you
should embrace the true faith, and conform in every way to its usages.
This you promised to do, and this, if common report says truly, you have

"And how have I neglected it?" asked Ferrier, throwing out his hands in
expostulation. "Have I not given to the common fund? Have I not attended
at the Temple? Have I not----?"

"Where are your wives?" asked Young, looking round him. "Call them in,
that I may greet them."

"It is true that I have not married," Ferrier answered. "But women
were few, and there were many who had better claims than I. I was not a
lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my wants."

"It is of that daughter that I would speak to you," said the leader
of the Mormons. "She has grown to be the flower of Utah, and has found
favour in the eyes of many who are high in the land."

John Ferrier groaned internally.

"There are stories of her which I would fain disbelieve--stories that
she is sealed to some Gentile. This must be the gossip of idle tongues.
What is the thirteenth rule in the code of the sainted Joseph Smith?
'Let every maiden of the true faith marry one of the elect; for if
she wed a Gentile, she commits a grievous sin.' This being so, it is
impossible that you, who profess the holy creed, should suffer your
daughter to violate it."

John Ferrier made no answer, but he played nervously with his

"Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested--so it has been
decided in the Sacred Council of Four. The girl is young, and we would
not have her wed grey hairs, neither would we deprive her of all
choice. We Elders have many heifers, [29] but our children must also
be provided. Stangerson has a son, and Drebber has a son, and either of
them would gladly welcome your daughter to their house. Let her choose
between them. They are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say
you to that?"

Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows knitted.

"You will give us time," he said at last. "My daughter is very
young--she is scarce of an age to marry."

"She shall have a month to choose," said Young, rising from his seat.
"At the end of that time she shall give her answer."

He was passing through the door, when he turned, with flushed face and
flashing eyes. "It were better for you, John Ferrier," he thundered,
"that you and she were now lying blanched skeletons upon the Sierra
Blanco, than that you should put your weak wills against the orders of
the Holy Four!"

With a threatening gesture of his hand, he turned from the door, and
Ferrier heard his heavy step scrunching along the shingly path.

He was still sitting with his elbows upon his knees, considering how he
should broach the matter to his daughter when a soft hand was laid upon
his, and looking up, he saw her standing beside him. One glance at her
pale, frightened face showed him that she had heard what had passed.

"I could not help it," she said, in answer to his look. "His voice rang
through the house. Oh, father, father, what shall we do?"

"Don't you scare yourself," he answered, drawing her to him, and passing
his broad, rough hand caressingly over her chestnut hair. "We'll fix it
up somehow or another. You don't find your fancy kind o' lessening for
this chap, do you?"

A sob and a squeeze of his hand was her only answer.

"No; of course not. I shouldn't care to hear you say you did. He's a
likely lad, and he's a Christian, which is more than these folk here, in
spite o' all their praying and preaching. There's a party starting for
Nevada to-morrow, and I'll manage to send him a message letting him know
the hole we are in. If I know anything o' that young man, he'll be back
here with a speed that would whip electro-telegraphs."

Lucy laughed through her tears at her father's description.

"When he comes, he will advise us for the best. But it is for you that
I am frightened, dear. One hears--one hears such dreadful stories about
those who oppose the Prophet: something terrible always happens to

"But we haven't opposed him yet," her father answered. "It will be time
to look out for squalls when we do. We have a clear month before us; at
the end of that, I guess we had best shin out of Utah."

"Leave Utah!"

"That's about the size of it."

"But the farm?"

"We will raise as much as we can in money, and let the rest go. To tell
the truth, Lucy, it isn't the first time I have thought of doing it. I
don't care about knuckling under to any man, as these folk do to their
darned prophet. I'm a free-born American, and it's all new to me. Guess
I'm too old to learn. If he comes browsing about this farm, he might
chance to run up against a charge of buckshot travelling in the opposite

"But they won't let us leave," his daughter objected.

"Wait till Jefferson comes, and we'll soon manage that. In the meantime,
don't you fret yourself, my dearie, and don't get your eyes swelled up,
else he'll be walking into me when he sees you. There's nothing to be
afeared about, and there's no danger at all."

John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in a very confident tone,
but she could not help observing that he paid unusual care to the
fastening of the doors that night, and that he carefully cleaned and
loaded the rusty old shotgun which hung upon the wall of his bedroom.


ON the morning which followed his interview with the Mormon Prophet,
John Ferrier went in to Salt Lake City, and having found his
acquaintance, who was bound for the Nevada Mountains, he entrusted him
with his message to Jefferson Hope. In it he told the young man of the
imminent danger which threatened them, and how necessary it was that he
should return. Having done thus he felt easier in his mind, and returned
home with a lighter heart.

As he approached his farm, he was surprised to see a horse hitched to
each of the posts of the gate. Still more surprised was he on entering
to find two young men in possession of his sitting-room. One, with a
long pale face, was leaning back in the rocking-chair, with his feet
cocked up upon the stove. The other, a bull-necked youth with coarse
bloated features, was standing in front of the window with his hands in
his pocket, whistling a popular hymn. Both of them nodded to Ferrier as
he entered, and the one in the rocking-chair commenced the conversation.

"Maybe you don't know us," he said. "This here is the son of Elder
Drebber, and I'm Joseph Stangerson, who travelled with you in the desert
when the Lord stretched out His hand and gathered you into the true

"As He will all the nations in His own good time," said the other in a
nasal voice; "He grindeth slowly but exceeding small."

John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed who his visitors were.

"We have come," continued Stangerson, "at the advice of our fathers to
solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may seem good to
you and to her. As I have but four wives and Brother Drebber here has
seven, it appears to me that my claim is the stronger one."

"Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson," cried the other; "the question is not
how many wives we have, but how many we can keep. My father has now
given over his mills to me, and I am the richer man."

"But my prospects are better," said the other, warmly. "When the
Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his leather
factory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the Church."

"It will be for the maiden to decide," rejoined young Drebber, smirking
at his own reflection in the glass. "We will leave it all to her

During this dialogue, John Ferrier had stood fuming in the doorway,
hardly able to keep his riding-whip from the backs of his two visitors.

"Look here," he said at last, striding up to them, "when my daughter
summons you, you can come, but until then I don't want to see your faces

The two young Mormons stared at him in amazement. In their eyes this
competition between them for the maiden's hand was the highest of
honours both to her and her father.

"There are two ways out of the room," cried Ferrier; "there is the door,
and there is the window. Which do you care to use?"

His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt hands so threatening,
that his visitors sprang to their feet and beat a hurried retreat. The
old farmer followed them to the door.

"Let me know when you have settled which it is to be," he said,

"You shall smart for this!" Stangerson cried, white with rage. "You have
defied the Prophet and the Council of Four. You shall rue it to the end
of your days."

"The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon you," cried young Drebber; "He
will arise and smite you!"

"Then I'll start the smiting," exclaimed Ferrier furiously, and would
have rushed upstairs for his gun had not Lucy seized him by the arm and
restrained him. Before he could escape from her, the clatter of horses'
hoofs told him that they were beyond his reach.

"The young canting rascals!" he exclaimed, wiping the perspiration from
his forehead; "I would sooner see you in your grave, my girl, than the
wife of either of them."

"And so should I, father," she answered, with spirit; "but Jefferson
will soon be here."

"Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The sooner the better, for we
do not know what their next move may be."

It was, indeed, high time that someone capable of giving advice and
help should come to the aid of the sturdy old farmer and his adopted
daughter. In the whole history of the settlement there had never been
such a case of rank disobedience to the authority of the Elders. If
minor errors were punished so sternly, what would be the fate of this
arch rebel. Ferrier knew that his wealth and position would be of no
avail to him. Others as well known and as rich as himself had been
spirited away before now, and their goods given over to the Church. He
was a brave man, but he trembled at the vague, shadowy terrors which
hung over him. Any known danger he could face with a firm lip, but
this suspense was unnerving. He concealed his fears from his daughter,
however, and affected to make light of the whole matter, though she,
with the keen eye of love, saw plainly that he was ill at ease.

He expected that he would receive some message or remonstrance from
Young as to his conduct, and he was not mistaken, though it came in an
unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next morning he found, to his surprise,
a small square of paper pinned on to the coverlet of his bed just over
his chest. On it was printed, in bold straggling letters:--

"Twenty-nine days are given you for amendment, and then----"

The dash was more fear-inspiring than any threat could have been. How
this warning came into his room puzzled John Ferrier sorely, for his
servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and windows had all been
secured. He crumpled the paper up and said nothing to his daughter, but
the incident struck a chill into his heart. The twenty-nine days were
evidently the balance of the month which Young had promised. What
strength or courage could avail against an enemy armed with such
mysterious powers? The hand which fastened that pin might have struck
him to the heart, and he could never have known who had slain him.

Still more shaken was he next morning. They had sat down to their
breakfast when Lucy with a cry of surprise pointed upwards. In the
centre of the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned stick apparently,
the number 28. To his daughter it was unintelligible, and he did not
enlighten her. That night he sat up with his gun and kept watch and
ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and yet in the morning a great 27 had
been painted upon the outside of his door.

Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning came he found that his
unseen enemies had kept their register, and had marked up in some
conspicuous position how many days were still left to him out of the
month of grace. Sometimes the fatal numbers appeared upon the walls,
sometimes upon the floors, occasionally they were on small placards
stuck upon the garden gate or the railings. With all his vigilance John
Ferrier could not discover whence these daily warnings proceeded. A
horror which was almost superstitious came upon him at the sight of
them. He became haggard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled look
of some hunted creature. He had but one hope in life now, and that was
for the arrival of the young hunter from Nevada.

Twenty had changed to fifteen and fifteen to ten, but there was no news
of the absentee. One by one the numbers dwindled down, and still there
came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman clattered down the road, or a
driver shouted at his team, the old farmer hurried to the gate thinking
that help had arrived at last. At last, when he saw five give way to
four and that again to three, he lost heart, and abandoned all hope of
escape. Single-handed, and with his limited knowledge of the mountains
which surrounded the settlement, he knew that he was powerless. The
more-frequented roads were strictly watched and guarded, and none could
pass along them without an order from the Council. Turn which way he
would, there appeared to be no avoiding the blow which hung over him.
Yet the old man never wavered in his resolution to part with life itself
before he consented to what he regarded as his daughter's dishonour.

He was sitting alone one evening pondering deeply over his troubles, and
searching vainly for some way out of them. That morning had shown the
figure 2 upon the wall of his house, and the next day would be the last
of the allotted time. What was to happen then? All manner of vague and
terrible fancies filled his imagination. And his daughter--what was to
become of her after he was gone? Was there no escape from the invisible
network which was drawn all round them. He sank his head upon the table
and sobbed at the thought of his own impotence.

What was that? In the silence he heard a gentle scratching sound--low,
but very distinct in the quiet of the night. It came from the door of
the house. Ferrier crept into the hall and listened intently. There
was a pause for a few moments, and then the low insidious sound was
repeated. Someone was evidently tapping very gently upon one of the
panels of the door. Was it some midnight assassin who had come to carry
out the murderous orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some agent
who was marking up that the last day of grace had arrived. John Ferrier
felt that instant death would be better than the suspense which shook
his nerves and chilled his heart. Springing forward he drew the bolt and
threw the door open.

Outside all was calm and quiet. The night was fine, and the stars were
twinkling brightly overhead. The little front garden lay before the
farmer's eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but neither there nor on
the road was any human being to be seen. With a sigh of relief, Ferrier
looked to right and to left, until happening to glance straight down at
his own feet he saw to his astonishment a man lying flat upon his face
upon the ground, with arms and legs all asprawl.

So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned up against the wall with
his hand to his throat to stifle his inclination to call out. His first
thought was that the prostrate figure was that of some wounded or dying
man, but as he watched it he saw it writhe along the ground and into the
hall with the rapidity and noiselessness of a serpent. Once within the
house the man sprang to his feet, closed the door, and revealed to the
astonished farmer the fierce face and resolute expression of Jefferson

"Good God!" gasped John Ferrier. "How you scared me! Whatever made you
come in like that."

"Give me food," the other said, hoarsely. "I have had no time for bite
or sup for eight-and-forty hours." He flung himself upon the [21] cold
meat and bread which were still lying upon the table from his host's
supper, and devoured it voraciously. "Does Lucy bear up well?" he asked,
when he had satisfied his hunger.

"Yes. She does not know the danger," her father answered.

"That is well. The house is watched on every side. That is why I crawled
my way up to it. They may be darned sharp, but they're not quite sharp
enough to catch a Washoe hunter."

John Ferrier felt a different man now that he realized that he had
a devoted ally. He seized the young man's leathery hand and wrung it
cordially. "Yo're a man to be proud of," he said. "There are not many
who would come to share our danger and our troubles."

"Yo've hit it there, pard," the young hunter answered. "I have a
respect for you, but if you were alone in this business I'd think twice
before I put my head into such a hornet's nest. It's Lucy that brings me
here, and before harm comes on her I guess there will be one less o' the
Hope family in Utah."

"What are we to do?"

"To-morrow is your last day, and unless you act to-night you are lost.
I have a mule and two horses waiting in the Eagle Ravine. How much money
have you?"

"Two thousand dollars in gold, and five in notes."

"That will do. I have as much more to add to it. We must push for Carson
City through the mountains. You had best wake Lucy. It is as well that
the servants do not sleep in the house."

While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daughter for the approaching
journey, Jefferson Hope packed all the eatables that he could find into
a small parcel, and filled a stoneware jar with water, for he knew by
experience that the mountain wells were few and far between. He had
hardly completed his arrangements before the farmer returned with his
daughter all dressed and ready for a start. The greeting between the
lovers was warm, but brief, for minutes were precious, and there was
much to be done.

"We must make our start at once," said Jefferson Hope, speaking in a low
but resolute voice, like one who realizes the greatness of the peril,
but has steeled his heart to meet it. "The front and back entrances are
watched, but with caution we may get away through the side window and
across the fields. Once on the road we are only two miles from the
Ravine where the horses are waiting. By daybreak we should be half-way
through the mountains."

"What if we are stopped," asked Ferrier.

Hope slapped the revolver butt which protruded from the front of his
tunic. "If they are too many for us we shall take two or three of them
with us," he said with a sinister smile.

The lights inside the house had all been extinguished, and from the
darkened window Ferrier peered over the fields which had been his own,
and which he was now about to abandon for ever. He had long nerved
himself to the sacrifice, however, and the thought of the honour and
happiness of his daughter outweighed any regret at his ruined fortunes.
All looked so peaceful and happy, the rustling trees and the broad
silent stretch of grain-land, that it was difficult to realize that
the spirit of murder lurked through it all. Yet the white face and set
expression of the young hunter showed that in his approach to the house
he had seen enough to satisfy him upon that head.

Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jefferson Hope had the scanty
provisions and water, while Lucy had a small bundle containing a few
of her more valued possessions. Opening the window very slowly and
carefully, they waited until a dark cloud had somewhat obscured the
night, and then one by one passed through into the little garden. With
bated breath and crouching figures they stumbled across it, and gained
the shelter of the hedge, which they skirted until they came to the gap
which opened into the cornfields. They had just reached this point when
the young man seized his two companions and dragged them down into the
shadow, where they lay silent and trembling.

It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson Hope the
ears of a lynx. He and his friends had hardly crouched down before the
melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard within a few yards
of them, which was immediately answered by another hoot at a small
distance. At the same moment a vague shadowy figure emerged from the
gap for which they had been making, and uttered the plaintive signal cry
again, on which a second man appeared out of the obscurity.

"To-morrow at midnight," said the first who appeared to be in authority.
"When the Whip-poor-Will calls three times."

"It is well," returned the other. "Shall I tell Brother Drebber?"

"Pass it on to him, and from him to the others. Nine to seven!"

"Seven to five!" repeated the other, and the two figures flitted away
in different directions. Their concluding words had evidently been some
form of sign and countersign. The instant that their footsteps had died
away in the distance, Jefferson Hope sprang to his feet, and helping his
companions through the gap, led the way across the fields at the top
of his speed, supporting and half-carrying the girl when her strength
appeared to fail her.

"Hurry on! hurry on!" he gasped from time to time. "We are through the
line of sentinels. Everything depends on speed. Hurry on!"

Once on the high road they made rapid progress. Only once did they
meet anyone, and then they managed to slip into a field, and so avoid
recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter branched away into a
rugged and narrow footpath which led to the mountains. Two dark jagged
peaks loomed above them through the darkness, and the defile which led
between them was the Eagle Cañon in which the horses were awaiting them.
With unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his way among the great
boulders and along the bed of a dried-up watercourse, until he came to
the retired corner, screened with rocks, where the faithful animals had
been picketed. The girl was placed upon the mule, and old Ferrier upon
one of the horses, with his money-bag, while Jefferson Hope led the
other along the precipitous and dangerous path.

It was a bewildering route for anyone who was not accustomed to face
Nature in her wildest moods. On the one side a great crag towered up a
thousand feet or more, black, stern, and menacing, with long basaltic
columns upon its rugged surface like the ribs of some petrified monster.
On the other hand a wild chaos of boulders and debris made all advance
impossible. Between the two ran the irregular track, so narrow in places
that they had to travel in Indian file, and so rough that only practised
riders could have traversed it at all. Yet in spite of all dangers and
difficulties, the hearts of the fugitives were light within them,
for every step increased the distance between them and the terrible
despotism from which they were flying.

They soon had a proof, however, that they were still within the
jurisdiction of the Saints. They had reached the very wildest and most
desolate portion of the pass when the girl gave a startled cry, and
pointed upwards. On a rock which overlooked the track, showing out dark
and plain against the sky, there stood a solitary sentinel. He saw them
as soon as they perceived him, and his military challenge of "Who goes
there?" rang through the silent ravine.

"Travellers for Nevada," said Jefferson Hope, with his hand upon the
rifle which hung by his saddle.

They could see the lonely watcher fingering his gun, and peering down at
them as if dissatisfied at their reply.

"By whose permission?" he asked.

"The Holy Four," answered Ferrier. His Mormon experiences had taught him
that that was the highest authority to which he could refer.

"Nine from seven," cried the sentinel.

"Seven from five," returned Jefferson Hope promptly, remembering the
countersign which he had heard in the garden.

"Pass, and the Lord go with you," said the voice from above. Beyond his
post the path broadened out, and the horses were able to break into a
trot. Looking back, they could see the solitary watcher leaning upon
his gun, and knew that they had passed the outlying post of the chosen
people, and that freedom lay before them.


ALL night their course lay through intricate defiles and over irregular
and rock-strewn paths. More than once they lost their way, but Hope's
intimate knowledge of the mountains enabled them to regain the track
once more. When morning broke, a scene of marvellous though savage
beauty lay before them. In every direction the great snow-capped peaks
hemmed them in, peeping over each other's shoulders to the far horizon.
So steep were the rocky banks on either side of them, that the larch
and the pine seemed to be suspended over their heads, and to need only a
gust of wind to come hurtling down upon them. Nor was the fear entirely
an illusion, for the barren valley was thickly strewn with trees and
boulders which had fallen in a similar manner. Even as they passed,
a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse rattle which woke
the echoes in the silent gorges, and startled the weary horses into a

As the sun rose slowly above the eastern horizon, the caps of the great
mountains lit up one after the other, like lamps at a festival, until
they were all ruddy and glowing. The magnificent spectacle cheered the
hearts of the three fugitives and gave them fresh energy. At a wild
torrent which swept out of a ravine they called a halt and watered their
horses, while they partook of a hasty breakfast. Lucy and her father
would fain have rested longer, but Jefferson Hope was inexorable. "They
will be upon our track by this time," he said. "Everything depends upon
our speed. Once safe in Carson we may rest for the remainder of our

During the whole of that day they struggled on through the defiles, and
by evening they calculated that they were more than thirty miles from
their enemies. At night-time they chose the base of a beetling crag,
where the rocks offered some protection from the chill wind, and there
huddled together for warmth, they enjoyed a few hours' sleep. Before
daybreak, however, they were up and on their way once more. They had
seen no signs of any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope began to think that
they were fairly out of the reach of the terrible organization whose
enmity they had incurred. He little knew how far that iron grasp could
reach, or how soon it was to close upon them and crush them.

About the middle of the second day of their flight their scanty store
of provisions began to run out. This gave the hunter little uneasiness,
however, for there was game to be had among the mountains, and he had
frequently before had to depend upon his rifle for the needs of life.
Choosing a sheltered nook, he piled together a few dried branches and
made a blazing fire, at which his companions might warm themselves, for
they were now nearly five thousand feet above the sea level, and the air
was bitter and keen. Having tethered the horses, and bade Lucy adieu,
he threw his gun over his shoulder, and set out in search of whatever
chance might throw in his way. Looking back he saw the old man and the
young girl crouching over the blazing fire, while the three animals
stood motionless in the back-ground. Then the intervening rocks hid them
from his view.

He walked for a couple of miles through one ravine after another without
success, though from the marks upon the bark of the trees, and other
indications, he judged that there were numerous bears in the vicinity.
At last, after two or three hours' fruitless search, he was thinking of
turning back in despair, when casting his eyes upwards he saw a sight
which sent a thrill of pleasure through his heart. On the edge of a
jutting pinnacle, three or four hundred feet above him, there stood a
creature somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, but armed with a
pair of gigantic horns. The big-horn--for so it is called--was acting,
probably, as a guardian over a flock which were invisible to the hunter;
but fortunately it was heading in the opposite direction, and had not
perceived him. Lying on his face, he rested his rifle upon a rock, and
took a long and steady aim before drawing the trigger. The animal sprang
into the air, tottered for a moment upon the edge of the precipice, and
then came crashing down into the valley beneath.

The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the hunter contented himself
with cutting away one haunch and part of the flank. With this trophy
over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps, for the evening was
already drawing in. He had hardly started, however, before he realized
the difficulty which faced him. In his eagerness he had wandered far
past the ravines which were known to him, and it was no easy matter
to pick out the path which he had taken. The valley in which he found
himself divided and sub-divided into many gorges, which were so like
each other that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.
He followed one for a mile or more until he came to a mountain torrent
which he was sure that he had never seen before. Convinced that he had
taken the wrong turn, he tried another, but with the same result. Night
was coming on rapidly, and it was almost dark before he at last found
himself in a defile which was familiar to him. Even then it was no easy
matter to keep to the right track, for the moon had not yet risen, and
the high cliffs on either side made the obscurity more profound. Weighed
down with his burden, and weary from his exertions, he stumbled along,
keeping up his heart by the reflection that every step brought him
nearer to Lucy, and that he carried with him enough to ensure them food
for the remainder of their journey.

He had now come to the mouth of the very defile in which he had left
them. Even in the darkness he could recognize the outline of the cliffs
which bounded it. They must, he reflected, be awaiting him anxiously,
for he had been absent nearly five hours. In the gladness of his heart
he put his hands to his mouth and made the glen re-echo to a loud halloo
as a signal that he was coming. He paused and listened for an answer.
None came save his own cry, which clattered up the dreary silent
ravines, and was borne back to his ears in countless repetitions. Again
he shouted, even louder than before, and again no whisper came back from
the friends whom he had left such a short time ago. A vague, nameless
dread came over him, and he hurried onwards frantically, dropping the
precious food in his agitation.

When he turned the corner, he came full in sight of the spot where the
fire had been lit. There was still a glowing pile of wood ashes there,
but it had evidently not been tended since his departure. The same
dead silence still reigned all round. With his fears all changed to
convictions, he hurried on. There was no living creature near the
remains of the fire: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It was only
too clear that some sudden and terrible disaster had occurred during
his absence--a disaster which had embraced them all, and yet had left no
traces behind it.

Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jefferson Hope felt his head spin
round, and had to lean upon his rifle to save himself from falling. He
was essentially a man of action, however, and speedily recovered from
his temporary impotence. Seizing a half-consumed piece of wood from the
smouldering fire, he blew it into a flame, and proceeded with its help
to examine the little camp. The ground was all stamped down by the feet
of horses, showing that a large party of mounted men had overtaken
the fugitives, and the direction of their tracks proved that they had
afterwards turned back to Salt Lake City. Had they carried back both of
his companions with them? Jefferson Hope had almost persuaded himself
that they must have done so, when his eye fell upon an object which made
every nerve of his body tingle within him. A little way on one side of
the camp was a low-lying heap of reddish soil, which had assuredly
not been there before. There was no mistaking it for anything but a
newly-dug grave. As the young hunter approached it, he perceived that a
stick had been planted on it, with a sheet of paper stuck in the cleft
fork of it. The inscription upon the paper was brief, but to the point:

                        JOHN FERRIER,
                 FORMERLY OF SALT LAKE CITY, [22]
                    Died August 4th, 1860.

The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before, was gone,
then, and this was all his epitaph. Jefferson Hope looked wildly round
to see if there was a second grave, but there was no sign of one. Lucy
had been carried back by their terrible pursuers to fulfil her original
destiny, by becoming one of the harem of the Elder's son. As the young
fellow realized the certainty of her fate, and his own powerlessness to
prevent it, he wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer in his
last silent resting-place.

Again, however, his active spirit shook off the lethargy which springs
from despair. If there was nothing else left to him, he could at least
devote his life to revenge. With indomitable patience and perseverance,
Jefferson Hope possessed also a power of sustained vindictiveness, which
he may have learned from the Indians amongst whom he had lived. As he
stood by the desolate fire, he felt that the only one thing which could
assuage his grief would be thorough and complete retribution, brought
by his own hand upon his enemies. His strong will and untiring energy
should, he determined, be devoted to that one end. With a grim, white
face, he retraced his steps to where he had dropped the food, and having
stirred up the smouldering fire, he cooked enough to last him for a
few days. This he made up into a bundle, and, tired as he was, he
set himself to walk back through the mountains upon the track of the
avenging angels.

For five days he toiled footsore and weary through the defiles which he
had already traversed on horseback. At night he flung himself down among
the rocks, and snatched a few hours of sleep; but before daybreak he was
always well on his way. On the sixth day, he reached the Eagle Cañon,
from which they had commenced their ill-fated flight. Thence he could
look down upon the home of the saints. Worn and exhausted, he leaned
upon his rifle and shook his gaunt hand fiercely at the silent
widespread city beneath him. As he looked at it, he observed that
there were flags in some of the principal streets, and other signs of
festivity. He was still speculating as to what this might mean when he
heard the clatter of horse's hoofs, and saw a mounted man riding towards
him. As he approached, he recognized him as a Mormon named Cowper, to
whom he had rendered services at different times. He therefore accosted
him when he got up to him, with the object of finding out what Lucy
Ferrier's fate had been.

"I am Jefferson Hope," he said. "You remember me."

The Mormon looked at him with undisguised astonishment--indeed, it was
difficult to recognize in this tattered, unkempt wanderer, with ghastly
white face and fierce, wild eyes, the spruce young hunter of former
days. Having, however, at last, satisfied himself as to his identity,
the man's surprise changed to consternation.

"You are mad to come here," he cried. "It is as much as my own life is
worth to be seen talking with you. There is a warrant against you from
the Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away."

"I don't fear them, or their warrant," Hope said, earnestly. "You must
know something of this matter, Cowper. I conjure you by everything you
hold dear to answer a few questions. We have always been friends. For
God's sake, don't refuse to answer me."

"What is it?" the Mormon asked uneasily. "Be quick. The very rocks have
ears and the trees eyes."

"What has become of Lucy Ferrier?"

"She was married yesterday to young Drebber. Hold up, man, hold up, you
have no life left in you."

"Don't mind me," said Hope faintly. He was white to the very lips, and
had sunk down on the stone against which he had been leaning. "Married,
you say?"

"Married yesterday--that's what those flags are for on the Endowment
House. There was some words between young Drebber and young Stangerson
as to which was to have her. They'd both been in the party that followed
them, and Stangerson had shot her father, which seemed to give him the
best claim; but when they argued it out in council, Drebber's party was
the stronger, so the Prophet gave her over to him. No one won't have
her very long though, for I saw death in her face yesterday. She is more
like a ghost than a woman. Are you off, then?"

"Yes, I am off," said Jefferson Hope, who had risen from his seat. His
face might have been chiselled out of marble, so hard and set was its
expression, while its eyes glowed with a baleful light.

"Where are you going?"

"Never mind," he answered; and, slinging his weapon over his shoulder,
strode off down the gorge and so away into the heart of the mountains to
the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst them all there was none so fierce
and so dangerous as himself.

The prediction of the Mormon was only too well fulfilled. Whether it was
the terrible death of her father or the effects of the hateful marriage
into which she had been forced, poor Lucy never held up her head again,
but pined away and died within a month. Her sottish husband, who had
married her principally for the sake of John Ferrier's property, did not
affect any great grief at his bereavement; but his other wives mourned
over her, and sat up with her the night before the burial, as is the
Mormon custom. They were grouped round the bier in the early hours of
the morning, when, to their inexpressible fear and astonishment,
the door was flung open, and a savage-looking, weather-beaten man in
tattered garments strode into the room. Without a glance or a word to
the cowering women, he walked up to the white silent figure which had
once contained the pure soul of Lucy Ferrier. Stooping over her, he
pressed his lips reverently to her cold forehead, and then, snatching
up her hand, he took the wedding-ring from her finger. "She shall not be
buried in that," he cried with a fierce snarl, and before an alarm could
be raised sprang down the stairs and was gone. So strange and so brief
was the episode, that the watchers might have found it hard to believe
it themselves or persuade other people of it, had it not been for the
undeniable fact that the circlet of gold which marked her as having been
a bride had disappeared.

For some months Jefferson Hope lingered among the mountains, leading
a strange wild life, and nursing in his heart the fierce desire for
vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told in the City of the weird
figure which was seen prowling about the suburbs, and which haunted
the lonely mountain gorges. Once a bullet whistled through Stangerson's
window and flattened itself upon the wall within a foot of him. On
another occasion, as Drebber passed under a cliff a great boulder
crashed down on him, and he only escaped a terrible death by throwing
himself upon his face. The two young Mormons were not long in
discovering the reason of these attempts upon their lives, and led
repeated expeditions into the mountains in the hope of capturing or
killing their enemy, but always without success. Then they adopted the
precaution of never going out alone or after nightfall, and of having
their houses guarded. After a time they were able to relax these
measures, for nothing was either heard or seen of their opponent, and
they hoped that time had cooled his vindictiveness.

Far from doing so, it had, if anything, augmented it. The hunter's mind
was of a hard, unyielding nature, and the predominant idea of revenge
had taken such complete possession of it that there was no room for
any other emotion. He was, however, above all things practical. He soon
realized that even his iron constitution could not stand the incessant
strain which he was putting upon it. Exposure and want of wholesome food
were wearing him out. If he died like a dog among the mountains, what
was to become of his revenge then? And yet such a death was sure to
overtake him if he persisted. He felt that that was to play his enemy's
game, so he reluctantly returned to the old Nevada mines, there to
recruit his health and to amass money enough to allow him to pursue his
object without privation.

His intention had been to be absent a year at the most, but a
combination of unforeseen circumstances prevented his leaving the mines
for nearly five. At the end of that time, however, his memory of
his wrongs and his craving for revenge were quite as keen as on that
memorable night when he had stood by John Ferrier's grave. Disguised,
and under an assumed name, he returned to Salt Lake City, careless
what became of his own life, as long as he obtained what he knew to
be justice. There he found evil tidings awaiting him. There had been a
schism among the Chosen People a few months before, some of the younger
members of the Church having rebelled against the authority of the
Elders, and the result had been the secession of a certain number of the
malcontents, who had left Utah and become Gentiles. Among these had been
Drebber and Stangerson; and no one knew whither they had gone. Rumour
reported that Drebber had managed to convert a large part of his
property into money, and that he had departed a wealthy man, while his
companion, Stangerson, was comparatively poor. There was no clue at all,
however, as to their whereabouts.

Many a man, however vindictive, would have abandoned all thought of
revenge in the face of such a difficulty, but Jefferson Hope never
faltered for a moment. With the small competence he possessed, eked out
by such employment as he could pick up, he travelled from town to town
through the United States in quest of his enemies. Year passed into
year, his black hair turned grizzled, but still he wandered on, a human
bloodhound, with his mind wholly set upon the one object upon which he
had devoted his life. At last his perseverance was rewarded. It was
but a glance of a face in a window, but that one glance told him that
Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom he was in pursuit of. He
returned to his miserable lodgings with his plan of vengeance all
arranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, looking from his window,
had recognized the vagrant in the street, and had read murder in
his eyes. He hurried before a justice of the peace, accompanied by
Stangerson, who had become his private secretary, and represented to him
that they were in danger of their lives from the jealousy and hatred of
an old rival. That evening Jefferson Hope was taken into custody, and
not being able to find sureties, was detained for some weeks. When at
last he was liberated, it was only to find that Drebber's house was
deserted, and that he and his secretary had departed for Europe.

Again the avenger had been foiled, and again his concentrated hatred
urged him to continue the pursuit. Funds were wanting, however, and
for some time he had to return to work, saving every dollar for his
approaching journey. At last, having collected enough to keep life in
him, he departed for Europe, and tracked his enemies from city to
city, working his way in any menial capacity, but never overtaking the
fugitives. When he reached St. Petersburg they had departed for Paris;
and when he followed them there he learned that they had just set off
for Copenhagen. At the Danish capital he was again a few days late, for
they had journeyed on to London, where he at last succeeded in running
them to earth. As to what occurred there, we cannot do better than quote
the old hunter's own account, as duly recorded in Dr. Watson's Journal,
to which we are already under such obligations.


OUR prisoner's furious resistance did not apparently indicate any
ferocity in his disposition towards ourselves, for on finding himself
powerless, he smiled in an affable manner, and expressed his hopes that
he had not hurt any of us in the scuffle. "I guess yo're going to take
me to the police-station," he remarked to Sherlock Holmes. "My cab's at
the door. If yo'll loose my legs I'll walk down to it. I'm not so light
to lift as I used to be."

Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances as if they thought this
proposition rather a bold one; but Holmes at once took the prisoner at
his word, and loosened the towel which we had bound round his ancles.
[23] He rose and stretched his legs, as though to assure himself that
they were free once more. I remember that I thought to myself, as I eyed
him, that I had seldom seen a more powerfully built man; and his dark
sunburned face bore an expression of determination and energy which was
as formidable as his personal strength.

"If there's a vacant place for a chief of the police, I reckon you
are the man for it," he said, gazing with undisguised admiration at my
fellow-lodger. "The way you kept on my trail was a caution."

"You had better come with me," said Holmes to the two detectives.

"I can drive you," said Lestrade.

"Good! and Gregson can come inside with me. You too, Doctor, you have
taken an interest in the case and may as well stick to us."

I assented gladly, and we all descended together. Our prisoner made no
attempt at escape, but stepped calmly into the cab which had been his,
and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the box, whipped up the horse, and
brought us in a very short time to our destination. We were ushered into
a small chamber where a police Inspector noted down our prisoner's name
and the names of the men with whose murder he had been charged. The
official was a white-faced unemotional man, who went through his
duties in a dull mechanical way. "The prisoner will be put before the
magistrates in the course of the week," he said; "in the mean time, Mr.
Jefferson Hope, have you anything that you wish to say? I must warn you
that your words will be taken down, and may be used against you."

"I've got a good deal to say," our prisoner said slowly. "I want to tell
you gentlemen all about it."

"Hadn't you better reserve that for your trial?" asked the Inspector.

"I may never be tried," he answered. "You needn't look startled. It
isn't suicide I am thinking of. Are you a Doctor?" He turned his fierce
dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question.

"Yes; I am," I answered.

"Then put your hand here," he said, with a smile, motioning with his
manacled wrists towards his chest.

I did so; and became at once conscious of an extraordinary throbbing and
commotion which was going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to
thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside when some powerful
engine was at work. In the silence of the room I could hear a dull
humming and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same source.

"Why," I cried, "you have an aortic aneurism!"

"That's what they call it," he said, placidly. "I went to a Doctor last
week about it, and he told me that it is bound to burst before many days
passed. It has been getting worse for years. I got it from over-exposure
and under-feeding among the Salt Lake Mountains. I've done my work now,
and I don't care how soon I go, but I should like to leave some account
of the business behind me. I don't want to be remembered as a common

The Inspector and the two detectives had a hurried discussion as to the
advisability of allowing him to tell his story.

"Do you consider, Doctor, that there is immediate danger?" the former
asked, [24]

"Most certainly there is," I answered.

"In that case it is clearly our duty, in the interests of justice, to
take his statement," said the Inspector. "You are at liberty, sir, to
give your account, which I again warn you will be taken down."

"I'll sit down, with your leave," the prisoner said, suiting the action
to the word. "This aneurism of mine makes me easily tired, and the
tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended matters. I'm on the brink
of the grave, and I am not likely to lie to you. Every word I say is the
absolute truth, and how you use it is a matter of no consequence to me."

With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back in his chair and began
the following remarkable statement. He spoke in a calm and methodical
manner, as though the events which he narrated were commonplace enough.
I can vouch for the accuracy of the subjoined account, for I have had
access to Lestrade's note-book, in which the prisoner's words were taken
down exactly as they were uttered.

"It don't much matter to you why I hated these men," he said; "it's
enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings--a father
and a daughter--and that they had, therefore, forfeited their own
lives. After the lapse of time that has passed since their crime, it was
impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any court. I
knew of their guilt though, and I determined that I should be judge,
jury, and executioner all rolled into one. Yo'd have done the same, if
you have any manhood in you, if you had been in my place.

"That girl that I spoke of was to have married me twenty years ago. She
was forced into marrying that same Drebber, and broke her heart over
it. I took the marriage ring from her dead finger, and I vowed that his
dying eyes should rest upon that very ring, and that his last thoughts
should be of the crime for which he was punished. I have carried
it about with me, and have followed him and his accomplice over two
continents until I caught them. They thought to tire me out, but they
could not do it. If I die to-morrow, as is likely enough, I die knowing
that my work in this world is done, and well done. They have perished,
and by my hand. There is nothing left for me to hope for, or to desire.

"They were rich and I was poor, so that it was no easy matter for me to
follow them. When I got to London my pocket was about empty, and I found
that I must turn my hand to something for my living. Driving and riding
are as natural to me as walking, so I applied at a cabowner's office,
and soon got employment. I was to bring a certain sum a week to the
owner, and whatever was over that I might keep for myself. There was
seldom much over, but I managed to scrape along somehow. The hardest job
was to learn my way about, for I reckon that of all the mazes that ever
were contrived, this city is the most confusing. I had a map beside me
though, and when once I had spotted the principal hotels and stations, I
got on pretty well.

"It was some time before I found out where my two gentlemen were living;
but I inquired and inquired until at last I dropped across them. They
were at a boarding-house at Camberwell, over on the other side of the
river. When once I found them out I knew that I had them at my mercy. I
had grown my beard, and there was no chance of their recognizing me.
I would dog them and follow them until I saw my opportunity. I was
determined that they should not escape me again.

"They were very near doing it for all that. Go where they would about
London, I was always at their heels. Sometimes I followed them on my
cab, and sometimes on foot, but the former was the best, for then they
could not get away from me. It was only early in the morning or late
at night that I could earn anything, so that I began to get behind hand
with my employer. I did not mind that, however, as long as I could lay
my hand upon the men I wanted.

"They were very cunning, though. They must have thought that there was
some chance of their being followed, for they would never go out alone,
and never after nightfall. During two weeks I drove behind them every
day, and never once saw them separate. Drebber himself was drunk half
the time, but Stangerson was not to be caught napping. I watched them
late and early, but never saw the ghost of a chance; but I was not
discouraged, for something told me that the hour had almost come. My
only fear was that this thing in my chest might burst a little too soon
and leave my work undone.

"At last, one evening I was driving up and down Torquay Terrace, as the
street was called in which they boarded, when I saw a cab drive up to
their door. Presently some luggage was brought out, and after a time
Drebber and Stangerson followed it, and drove off. I whipped up my horse
and kept within sight of them, feeling very ill at ease, for I feared
that they were going to shift their quarters. At Euston Station they
got out, and I left a boy to hold my horse, and followed them on to the
platform. I heard them ask for the Liverpool train, and the guard answer
that one had just gone and there would not be another for some hours.
Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but Drebber was rather pleased
than otherwise. I got so close to them in the bustle that I could hear
every word that passed between them. Drebber said that he had a little
business of his own to do, and that if the other would wait for him he
would soon rejoin him. His companion remonstrated with him, and reminded
him that they had resolved to stick together. Drebber answered that the
matter was a delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not catch
what Stangerson said to that, but the other burst out swearing, and
reminded him that he was nothing more than his paid servant, and that he
must not presume to dictate to him. On that the Secretary gave it up
as a bad job, and simply bargained with him that if he missed the last
train he should rejoin him at Halliday's Private Hotel; to which Drebber
answered that he would be back on the platform before eleven, and made
his way out of the station.

"The moment for which I had waited so long had at last come. I had my
enemies within my power. Together they could protect each other,
but singly they were at my mercy. I did not act, however, with undue
precipitation. My plans were already formed. There is no satisfaction in
vengeance unless the offender has time to realize who it is that strikes
him, and why retribution has come upon him. I had my plans arranged by
which I should have the opportunity of making the man who had wronged me
understand that his old sin had found him out. It chanced that some days
before a gentleman who had been engaged in looking over some houses in
the Brixton Road had dropped the key of one of them in my carriage. It
was claimed that same evening, and returned; but in the interval I had
taken a moulding of it, and had a duplicate constructed. By means of
this I had access to at least one spot in this great city where I could
rely upon being free from interruption. How to get Drebber to that house
was the difficult problem which I had now to solve.

"He walked down the road and went into one or two liquor shops, staying
for nearly half-an-hour in the last of them. When he came out he
staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty well on. There was a
hansom just in front of me, and he hailed it. I followed it so close
that the nose of my horse was within a yard of his driver the whole way.
We rattled across Waterloo Bridge and through miles of streets, until,
to my astonishment, we found ourselves back in the Terrace in which he
had boarded. I could not imagine what his intention was in returning
there; but I went on and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or so from
the house. He entered it, and his hansom drove away. Give me a glass of
water, if you please. My mouth gets dry with the talking."

I handed him the glass, and he drank it down.

"That's better," he said. "Well, I waited for a quarter of an hour, or
more, when suddenly there came a noise like people struggling inside the
house. Next moment the door was flung open and two men appeared, one of
whom was Drebber, and the other was a young chap whom I had never seen
before. This fellow had Drebber by the collar, and when they came to
the head of the steps he gave him a shove and a kick which sent him half
across the road. 'You hound,' he cried, shaking his stick at him; 'I'll
teach you to insult an honest girl!' He was so hot that I think he would
have thrashed Drebber with his cudgel, only that the cur staggered away
down the road as fast as his legs would carry him. He ran as far as the
corner, and then, seeing my cab, he hailed me and jumped in. 'Drive me
to Halliday's Private Hotel,' said he.

"When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart jumped so with joy that
I feared lest at this last moment my aneurism might go wrong. I drove
along slowly, weighing in my own mind what it was best to do. I might
take him right out into the country, and there in some deserted lane
have my last interview with him. I had almost decided upon this, when he
solved the problem for me. The craze for drink had seized him again, and
he ordered me to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in, leaving word
that I should wait for him. There he remained until closing time, and
when he came out he was so far gone that I knew the game was in my own

"Don't imagine that I intended to kill him in cold blood. It would only
have been rigid justice if I had done so, but I could not bring myself
to do it. I had long determined that he should have a show for his life
if he chose to take advantage of it. Among the many billets which I
have filled in America during my wandering life, I was once janitor and
sweeper out of the laboratory at York College. One day the professor was
lecturing on poisions, [25] and he showed his students some alkaloid,
as he called it, which he had extracted from some South American arrow
poison, and which was so powerful that the least grain meant instant
death. I spotted the bottle in which this preparation was kept, and when
they were all gone, I helped myself to a little of it. I was a fairly
good dispenser, so I worked this alkaloid into small, soluble pills, and
each pill I put in a box with a similar pill made without the poison.
I determined at the time that when I had my chance, my gentlemen should
each have a draw out of one of these boxes, while I ate the pill that
remained. It would be quite as deadly, and a good deal less noisy than
firing across a handkerchief. From that day I had always my pill boxes
about with me, and the time had now come when I was to use them.

"It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild, bleak night, blowing hard
and raining in torrents. Dismal as it was outside, I was glad within--so
glad that I could have shouted out from pure exultation. If any of you
gentlemen have ever pined for a thing, and longed for it during twenty
long years, and then suddenly found it within your reach, you would
understand my feelings. I lit a cigar, and puffed at it to steady my
nerves, but my hands were trembling, and my temples throbbing with
excitement. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier and sweet Lucy
looking at me out of the darkness and smiling at me, just as plain as I
see you all in this room. All the way they were ahead of me, one on each
side of the horse until I pulled up at the house in the Brixton Road.

"There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to be heard, except the
dripping of the rain. When I looked in at the window, I found Drebber
all huddled together in a drunken sleep. I shook him by the arm, 'It's
time to get out,' I said.

"'All right, cabby,' said he.

"I suppose he thought we had come to the hotel that he had mentioned,
for he got out without another word, and followed me down the garden.
I had to walk beside him to keep him steady, for he was still a little
top-heavy. When we came to the door, I opened it, and led him into the
front room. I give you my word that all the way, the father and the
daughter were walking in front of us.

"'It's infernally dark,' said he, stamping about.

"'We'll soon have a light,' I said, striking a match and putting it to
a wax candle which I had brought with me. 'Now, Enoch Drebber,' I
continued, turning to him, and holding the light to my own face, 'who am

"He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes for a moment, and then I
saw a horror spring up in them, and convulse his whole features, which
showed me that he knew me. He staggered back with a livid face, and I
saw the perspiration break out upon his brow, while his teeth chattered
in his head. At the sight, I leaned my back against the door and laughed
loud and long. I had always known that vengeance would be sweet, but I
had never hoped for the contentment of soul which now possessed me.

"'You dog!' I said; 'I have hunted you from Salt Lake City to St.
Petersburg, and you have always escaped me. Now, at last your wanderings
have come to an end, for either you or I shall never see to-morrow's sun
rise.' He shrunk still further away as I spoke, and I could see on his
face that he thought I was mad. So I was for the time. The pulses in my
temples beat like sledge-hammers, and I believe I would have had a fit
of some sort if the blood had not gushed from my nose and relieved me.

"'What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?' I cried, locking the door, and
shaking the key in his face. 'Punishment has been slow in coming, but it
has overtaken you at last.' I saw his coward lips tremble as I spoke. He
would have begged for his life, but he knew well that it was useless.

"'Would you murder me?' he stammered.

"'There is no murder,' I answered. 'Who talks of murdering a mad dog?
What mercy had you upon my poor darling, when you dragged her from her
slaughtered father, and bore her away to your accursed and shameless

"'It was not I who killed her father,' he cried.

"'But it was you who broke her innocent heart,' I shrieked, thrusting
the box before him. 'Let the high God judge between us. Choose and
eat. There is death in one and life in the other. I shall take what you
leave. Let us see if there is justice upon the earth, or if we are ruled
by chance.'

"He cowered away with wild cries and prayers for mercy, but I drew my
knife and held it to his throat until he had obeyed me. Then I swallowed
the other, and we stood facing one another in silence for a minute or
more, waiting to see which was to live and which was to die. Shall I
ever forget the look which came over his face when the first warning
pangs told him that the poison was in his system? I laughed as I saw
it, and held Lucy's marriage ring in front of his eyes. It was but for
a moment, for the action of the alkaloid is rapid. A spasm of pain
contorted his features; he threw his hands out in front of him,
staggered, and then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily upon the floor. I
turned him over with my foot, and placed my hand upon his heart. There
was no movement. He was dead!

"The blood had been streaming from my nose, but I had taken no notice of
it. I don't know what it was that put it into my head to write upon the
wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous idea of setting the police
upon a wrong track, for I felt light-hearted and cheerful. I remembered
a German being found in New York with RACHE written up above him, and it
was argued at the time in the newspapers that the secret societies must
have done it. I guessed that what puzzled the New Yorkers would puzzle
the Londoners, so I dipped my finger in my own blood and printed it on
a convenient place on the wall. Then I walked down to my cab and found
that there was nobody about, and that the night was still very wild. I
had driven some distance when I put my hand into the pocket in which
I usually kept Lucy's ring, and found that it was not there. I was
thunderstruck at this, for it was the only memento that I had of her.
Thinking that I might have dropped it when I stooped over Drebber's
body, I drove back, and leaving my cab in a side street, I went boldly
up to the house--for I was ready to dare anything rather than lose
the ring. When I arrived there, I walked right into the arms of a
police-officer who was coming out, and only managed to disarm his
suspicions by pretending to be hopelessly drunk.

"That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end. All I had to do then was
to do as much for Stangerson, and so pay off John Ferrier's debt. I knew
that he was staying at Halliday's Private Hotel, and I hung about all
day, but he never came out. [26] fancy that he suspected something when
Drebber failed to put in an appearance. He was cunning, was Stangerson,
and always on his guard. If he thought he could keep me off by staying
indoors he was very much mistaken. I soon found out which was the window
of his bedroom, and early next morning I took advantage of some ladders
which were lying in the lane behind the hotel, and so made my way into
his room in the grey of the dawn. I woke him up and told him that the
hour had come when he was to answer for the life he had taken so long
before. I described Drebber's death to him, and I gave him the same
choice of the poisoned pills. Instead of grasping at the chance of
safety which that offered him, he sprang from his bed and flew at my
throat. In self-defence I stabbed him to the heart. It would have been
the same in any case, for Providence would never have allowed his guilty
hand to pick out anything but the poison.

"I have little more to say, and it's as well, for I am about done up.
I went on cabbing it for a day or so, intending to keep at it until I
could save enough to take me back to America. I was standing in the
yard when a ragged youngster asked if there was a cabby there called
Jefferson Hope, and said that his cab was wanted by a gentleman at 221B,
Baker Street. I went round, suspecting no harm, and the next thing I
knew, this young man here had the bracelets on my wrists, and as neatly
snackled [27] as ever I saw in my life. That's the whole of my story,
gentlemen. You may consider me to be a murderer; but I hold that I am
just as much an officer of justice as you are."

So thrilling had the man's narrative been, and his manner was so
impressive that we had sat silent and absorbed. Even the professional
detectives, _blasé_ as they were in every detail of crime, appeared to
be keenly interested in the man's story. When he finished we sat for
some minutes in a stillness which was only broken by the scratching
of Lestrade's pencil as he gave the finishing touches to his shorthand

"There is only one point on which I should like a little more
information," Sherlock Holmes said at last. "Who was your accomplice who
came for the ring which I advertised?"

The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. "I can tell my own secrets,"
he said, "but I don't get other people into trouble. I saw your
advertisement, and I thought it might be a plant, or it might be the
ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered to go and see. I think yo'll
own he did it smartly."

"Not a doubt of that," said Holmes heartily.

"Now, gentlemen," the Inspector remarked gravely, "the forms of the law
must be complied with. On Thursday the prisoner will be brought before
the magistrates, and your attendance will be required. Until then I will
be responsible for him." He rang the bell as he spoke, and Jefferson
Hope was led off by a couple of warders, while my friend and I made our
way out of the Station and took a cab back to Baker Street.


WE had all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon the
Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no occasion for our
testimony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson
Hope had been summoned before a tribunal where strict justice would
be meted out to him. On the very night after his capture the aneurism
burst, and he was found in the morning stretched upon the floor of the
cell, with a placid smile upon his face, as though he had been able
in his dying moments to look back upon a useful life, and on work well

"Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death," Holmes remarked, as
we chatted it over next evening. "Where will their grand advertisement
be now?"

"I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture," I

"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence," returned my
companion, bitterly. "The question is, what can you make people believe
that you have done. Never mind," he continued, more brightly, after a
pause. "I would not have missed the investigation for anything. There
has been no better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there
were several most instructive points about it."

"Simple!" I ejaculated.

"Well, really, it can hardly be described as otherwise," said Sherlock
Holmes, smiling at my surprise. "The proof of its intrinsic simplicity
is, that without any help save a few very ordinary deductions I was able
to lay my hand upon the criminal within three days."

"That is true," said I.

"I have already explained to you that what is out of the common is
usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this
sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very
useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise
it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason
forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who
can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically."

"I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow you."

"I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it clearer.
Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you
what the result would be. They can put those events together in their
minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are
few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to
evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led
up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning
backwards, or analytically."

"I understand," said I.

"Now this was a case in which you were given the result and had to
find everything else for yourself. Now let me endeavour to show you the
different steps in my reasoning. To begin at the beginning. I approached
the house, as you know, on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all
impressions. I naturally began by examining the roadway, and there, as I
have already explained to you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which,
I ascertained by inquiry, must have been there during the night. I
satisfied myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by the
narrow gauge of the wheels. The ordinary London growler is considerably
less wide than a gentleman's brougham.

"This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly down the garden
path, which happened to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable
for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to you to be a mere
trampled line of slush, but to my trained eyes every mark upon its
surface had a meaning. There is no branch of detective science which
is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps.
Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it, and much practice
has made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy footmarks of the
constables, but I saw also the track of the two men who had first passed
through the garden. It was easy to tell that they had been before the
others, because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by
the others coming upon the top of them. In this way my second link was
formed, which told me that the nocturnal visitors were two in number,
one remarkable for his height (as I calculated from the length of his
stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to judge from the small and
elegant impression left by his boots.

"On entering the house this last inference was confirmed. My well-booted
man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder
there was. There was no wound upon the dead man's person, but the
agitated expression upon his face assured me that he had foreseen his
fate before it came upon him. Men who die from heart disease, or any
sudden natural cause, never by any chance exhibit agitation upon their
features. Having sniffed the dead man's lips I detected a slightly sour
smell, and I came to the conclusion that he had had poison forced upon
him. Again, I argued that it had been forced upon him from the hatred
and fear expressed upon his face. By the method of exclusion, I had
arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis would meet the facts.
Do not imagine that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcible
administration of poison is by no means a new thing in criminal annals.
The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of Leturier in Montpellier, will
occur at once to any toxicologist.

"And now came the great question as to the reason why. Robbery had not
been the object of the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it politics,
then, or was it a woman? That was the question which confronted me.
I was inclined from the first to the latter supposition. Political
assassins are only too glad to do their work and to fly. This murder
had, on the contrary, been done most deliberately, and the perpetrator
had left his tracks all over the room, showing that he had been there
all the time. It must have been a private wrong, and not a political
one, which called for such a methodical revenge. When the inscription
was discovered upon the wall I was more inclined than ever to my
opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring was found,
however, it settled the question. Clearly the murderer had used it to
remind his victim of some dead or absent woman. It was at this point
that I asked Gregson whether he had enquired in his telegram to
Cleveland as to any particular point in Mr. Drebber's former career. He
answered, you remember, in the negative.

"I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room, which
confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderer's height, and furnished me
with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar and the length
of his nails. I had already come to the conclusion, since there were no
signs of a struggle, that the blood which covered the floor had burst
from the murderer's nose in his excitement. I could perceive that the
track of blood coincided with the track of his feet. It is seldom that
any man, unless he is very full-blooded, breaks out in this way through
emotion, so I hazarded the opinion that the criminal was probably a
robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that I had judged correctly.

"Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had neglected. I
telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland, limiting my enquiry
to the circumstances connected with the marriage of Enoch Drebber. The
answer was conclusive. It told me that Drebber had already applied for
the protection of the law against an old rival in love, named Jefferson
Hope, and that this same Hope was at present in Europe. I knew now that
I held the clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that remained was to
secure the murderer.

"I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had walked
into the house with Drebber, was none other than the man who had driven
the cab. The marks in the road showed me that the horse had wandered
on in a way which would have been impossible had there been anyone in
charge of it. Where, then, could the driver be, unless he were inside
the house? Again, it is absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry
out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it were, of a third
person, who was sure to betray him. Lastly, supposing one man wished
to dog another through London, what better means could he adopt than
to turn cabdriver. All these considerations led me to the irresistible
conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys of the

"If he had been one there was no reason to believe that he had ceased to
be. On the contrary, from his point of view, any sudden change would be
likely to draw attention to himself. He would, probably, for a time at
least, continue to perform his duties. There was no reason to suppose
that he was going under an assumed name. Why should he change his name
in a country where no one knew his original one? I therefore organized
my Street Arab detective corps, and sent them systematically to every
cab proprietor in London until they ferreted out the man that I wanted.
How well they succeeded, and how quickly I took advantage of it, are
still fresh in your recollection. The murder of Stangerson was an
incident which was entirely unexpected, but which could hardly in
any case have been prevented. Through it, as you know, I came into
possession of the pills, the existence of which I had already surmised.
You see the whole thing is a chain of logical sequences without a break
or flaw."

"It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should be publicly recognized.
You should publish an account of the case. If you won't, I will for

"You may do what you like, Doctor," he answered. "See here!" he
continued, handing a paper over to me, "look at this!"

It was the _Echo_ for the day, and the paragraph to which he pointed was
devoted to the case in question.

"The public," it said, "have lost a sensational treat through the sudden
death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the murder of Mr. Enoch
Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The details of the case will
probably be never known now, though we are informed upon good authority
that the crime was the result of an old standing and romantic feud, in
which love and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that both the victims
belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and Hope, the
deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake City. If the case has had
no other effect, it, at least, brings out in the most striking manner
the efficiency of our detective police force, and will serve as a lesson
to all foreigners that they will do wisely to settle their feuds at
home, and not to carry them on to British soil. It is an open secret
that the credit of this smart capture belongs entirely to the well-known
Scotland Yard officials, Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was
apprehended, it appears, in the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
who has himself, as an amateur, shown some talent in the detective
line, and who, with such instructors, may hope in time to attain to some
degree of their skill. It is expected that a testimonial of some sort
will be presented to the two officers as a fitting recognition of their

"Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried Sherlock Holmes with a
laugh. "That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet: to get them a

"Never mind," I answered, "I have all the facts in my journal, and the
public shall know them. In the meantime you must make yourself contented
by the consciousness of success, like the Roman miser--

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


[Footnote 1: Frontispiece, with the caption: "He examined with his glass
the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most
minute exactness." (_Page_ 23.)]

[Footnote 2: "JOHN H. WATSON, M.D.": the initial letters in the name are
capitalized, the other letters in small caps. All chapter titles are in
small caps. The initial words of chapters are in small caps with first
letter capitalized.]

[Footnote 3: "lodgings.": the period should be a comma, as in later

[Footnote 4: "hoemoglobin": should be haemoglobin. The o&e are

[Footnote 5: "221B": the B is in small caps]

[Footnote 6: "THE LAURISTON GARDEN MYSTERY": the table-of-contents
lists this chapter as "...GARDENS MYSTERY"--plural, and probably more

[Footnote 7: "brought."": the text has an extra double-quote mark]

[Footnote 8: "individual--": illustration this page, with the
caption: "As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and

[Footnote 9: "manoeuvres": the o&e are concatenated.]

[Footnote 10: "Patent leathers": the hyphen is missing.]

[Footnote 11: "condonment": should be condonement.]

[Footnote 13: "wages.": ending quote is missing.]

[Footnote 14: "the first.": ending quote is missing.]

[Footnote 15: "make much of...": Other editions complete this sentence
with an "it." But there is a gap in the text at this point, and, given
the context, it may have actually been an interjection, a dash. The gap
is just the right size for the characters "it." and the start of a new
sentence, or for a "----"]

[Footnote 16: "tho cushion": "tho" should be "the"]

[Footnote 19: "shoving": later editions have "showing". The original is
clearly superior.]

[Footnote 20: "stared about...": illustration, with the caption: "One of
them seized the little girl, and hoisted her upon his shoulder."]

[Footnote 21: "upon the": illustration, with the caption: "As he watched
it he saw it writhe along the ground."]

[Footnote 22: "FORMERLY...": F,S,L,C in caps, other letters in this line
in small caps.]

[Footnote 23: "ancles": ankles.]

[Footnote 24: "asked,": should be "asked."]

[Footnote 25: "poisions": should be "poisons"]

[Footnote 26: "...fancy": should be "I fancy". There is a gap in the

[Footnote 27: "snackled": "shackled" in later texts.]

[Footnote 29: Heber C. Kemball, in one of his sermons, alludes to his
hundred wives under this endearing epithet.]

End of Project Gutenberg's A Study In Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle


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