Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
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already referred to.
How our hydraulic engineer had been conveyed from the garden to
the spot where he recovered his senses might have remained
forever a mystery were it not for the soft mould, which told us a
very plain tale. He had evidently been carried down by two
persons, one of whom had remarkably small feet and the other
unusually large ones. On the whole, it was most probable that the
silent Englishman, being less bold or less murderous than his
companion, had assisted the woman to bear the unconscious man out
of the way of danger.
"Well," said our engineer ruefully as we took our seats to return
once more to London, "it has been a pretty business for me! I
have lost my thumb and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and what
have I gained?"
"Experience," said Holmes, laughing. "Indirectly it may be of
value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the
reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your
ADVENTURE 10. THE ADVENTURE OF THE NOBLE BACHELOR
The Lord St. Simon marriage, and its curious termination, have
long ceased to be a subject of interest in those exalted circles
in which the unfortunate bridegroom moves. Fresh scandals have
eclipsed it, and their more piquant details have drawn the
gossips away from this four-year-old drama. As I have reason to
believe, however, that the full facts have never been revealed to
the general public, and as my friend Sherlock Holmes had a
considerable share in clearing the matter up, I feel that no
memoir of him would be complete without some little sketch of
this remarkable episode.
It was a few weeks before my own marriage, during the days when I
was still sharing rooms with Holmes in Baker Street, that he came
home from an afternoon stroll to find a letter on the table
waiting for him. I had remained indoors all day, for the weather
had taken a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal winds, and
the Jezail bullet which I had brought back in one of my limbs as
a relic of my Afghan campaign throbbed with dull persistence.
With my body in one easy-chair and my legs upon another, I had
surrounded myself with a cloud of newspapers until at last,
saturated with the news of the day, I tossed them all aside and
lay listless, watching the huge crest and monogram upon the
envelope upon the table and wondering lazily who my friend's
noble correspondent could be.
"Here is a very fashionable epistle," I remarked as he entered.
"Your morning letters, if I remember right, were from a
fish-monger and a tide-waiter."
"Yes, my correspondence has certainly the charm of variety," he
answered, smiling, "and the humbler are usually the more
interesting. This looks like one of those unwelcome social
summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie."
He broke the seal and glanced over the contents.
"Oh, come, it may prove to be something of interest, after all."
"Not social, then?"
"No, distinctly professional."
"And from a noble client?"
"One of the highest in England."
"My dear fellow. I congratulate you."
"I assure you, Watson, without affectation, that the status of my
client is a matter of less moment to me than the interest of his
case. It is just possible, however, that that also may not be
wanting in this new investigation. You have been reading the
papers diligently of late, have you not?"
"It looks like it," said I ruefully, pointing to a huge bundle in
the corner. "I have had nothing else to do."
"It is fortunate, for you will perhaps be able to post me up. I
read nothing except the criminal news and the agony column. The
latter is always instructive. But if you have followed recent
events so closely you must have read about Lord St. Simon and his
"Oh, yes, with the deepest interest."
"That is well. The letter which I hold in my hand is from Lord
St. Simon. I will read it to you, and in return you must turn
over these papers and let me have whatever bears upon the matter.
This is what he says:
"'MY DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES:--"Lord Backwater tells me that I
may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discretion. I
have determined, therefore, to call upon you and to consult you
in reference to the very painful event which has occurred in
connection with my wedding. Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is
acting already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no
objection to your cooperation, and that he even thinks that
it might be of some assistance. I will call at four o'clock in
the afternoon, and, should you have any other engagement at that
time, I hope that you will postpone it, as this matter is of
paramount importance. Yours faithfully, ST. SIMON.'
"It is dated from Grosvenor Mansions, written with a quill pen,
and the noble lord has had the misfortune to get a smear of ink
upon the outer side of his right little finger," remarked Holmes
as he folded up the epistle.
"He says four o'clock. It is three now. He will be here in an
"Then I have just time, with your assistance, to get clear upon
the subject. Turn over those papers and arrange the extracts in
their order of time, while I take a glance as to who our client
is." He picked a red-covered volume from a line of books of
reference beside the mantelpiece. "Here he is," said he, sitting
down and flattening it out upon his knee. "Lord Robert Walsingham
de Vere St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral. Hum! Arms:
Azure, three caltrops in chief over a fess sable. Born in 1846.
He's forty-one years of age, which is mature for marriage. Was
Under-Secretary for the colonies in a late administration. The
Duke, his father, was at one time Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
They inherit Plantagenet blood by direct descent, and Tudor on
the distaff side. Ha! Well, there is nothing very instructive in
all this. I think that I must turn to you Watson, for something
"I have very little difficulty in finding what I want," said I,
"for the facts are quite recent, and the matter struck me as
remarkable. I feared to refer them to you, however, as I knew
that you had an inquiry on hand and that you disliked the
intrusion of other matters."
"Oh, you mean the little problem of the Grosvenor Square
furniture van. That is quite cleared up now--though, indeed, it
was obvious from the first. Pray give me the results of your
"Here is the first notice which I can find. It is in the personal
column of the Morning Post, and dates, as you see, some weeks
back: 'A marriage has been arranged,' it says, 'and will, if
rumour is correct, very shortly take place, between Lord Robert
St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral, and Miss Hatty
Doran, the only daughter of Aloysius Doran. Esq., of San
Francisco, Cal., U.S.A.' That is all."
"Terse and to the point," remarked Holmes, stretching his long,
thin legs towards the fire.
"There was a paragraph amplifying this in one of the society
papers of the same week. Ah, here it is: 'There will soon be a
call for protection in the marriage market, for the present
free-trade principle appears to tell heavily against our home
product. One by one the management of the noble houses of Great
Britain is passing into the hands of our fair cousins from across
the Atlantic. An important addition has been made during the last
week to the list of the prizes which have been borne away by
these charming invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown himself
for over twenty years proof against the little god's arrows, has
now definitely announced his approaching marriage with Miss Hatty
Doran, the fascinating daughter of a California millionaire. Miss
Doran, whose graceful figure and striking face attracted much
attention at the Westbury House festivities, is an only child,
and it is currently reported that her dowry will run to
considerably over the six figures, with expectancies for the
future. As it is an open secret that the Duke of Balmoral has
been compelled to sell his pictures within the last few years,
and as Lord St. Simon has no property of his own save the small
estate of Birchmoor, it is obvious that the Californian heiress
is not the only gainer by an alliance which will enable her to
make the easy and common transition from a Republican lady to a
"Anything else?" asked Holmes, yawning.
"Oh, yes; plenty. Then there is another note in the Morning Post
to say that the mariage would be an absolutely quiet one, that it
would be at St. George's, Hanover Square, that only half a dozen
intimate friends would be invited, and that the party would
return to the furnished house at Lancaster Gate which has been
taken by Mr. Aloysius Doran. Two days later--that is, on
Wednesday last--there is a curt announcement that the wedding had
taken place, and that the honeymoon would be passed at Lord
Backwater's place, near Petersfield. Those are all the notices
which appeared before the disappearance of the bride."
"Before the what?" asked Holmes with a start.
"The vanishing of the lady."
"When did she vanish, then?"
"At the wedding breakfast."
"Indeed. This is more interesting than it promised to be; quite