Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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"I think that it is fairly obvious. What do you say,
I shrugged my shoulders. "I must confess that I am
out of my depths," said I.
"Oh surely if you consider the events at first they
can only point to one conclusion."
"What do you make of them?"
"Well, the whole thing hinges upon two points. The
first is the making of Pycroft write a declaration by
which he entered the service of this preposterous
company. Do you not see how very suggestive that is?"
"I am afraid I miss the point."
"Well, why did they want him to do it? Not as a
business matter, for these arrangements are usually
verbal, and there was no earthly business reason why
this should be an exception. Don't you see, my young
friend, that they were very anxious to obtain a
specimen of your handwriting, and had no other way of
"Quite so. Why? When we answer that we have made
some progress with our little problem. Why? There
can be only one adequate reason. Some one wanted to
learn to imitate your writing, and had to procure a
specimen of it first. And now if we pass on to the
second point we find that each throws light upon the
other. That point is the request made by Pinner that
you should not resign your place, but should leave the
manager of this important business in the full
expectation that a Mr. Hall Pycroft, whom he had never
seen, was about to enter the office upon the Monday
"My God!" cried our client, "what a blind beetle I
"Now you see the point about the handwriting. Suppose
that some one turned up in your place who wrote a
completely different hand from that in which you had
applied for the vacancy, of course the game would have
been up. But in the interval the rogue had learned to
imitate you, and his position was therefore secure, as
I presume that nobody in the office had ever set eyes
"Not a soul," groaned Hall Pycroft.
"Very good. Of course it was of the utmost importance
to prevent you from thinking better of it, and also to
keep you from coming into contact with any one who
might tell you that your double was at work in
Mawson's office. Therefore they gave you a handsome
advance on your salary, and ran you off to the
Midlands, where they gave you enough work to do to
prevent your going to London, where you might have
burst their little game up. That is all plain
"But why should this man pretend to be his won
"Well, that is pretty clear also. There are evidently
only two of them in it. The other is personating you
at the office. This one acted as your engager, and
then found that he could not find you an employer
without admitting a third person into his plot. That
he was most unwilling to do. He changed his
appearance as far as he could, and trusted that the
likeness, which you could not fail to observe, would
be put down to a family resemblance. But for the
happy chance of the gold stuffing, your suspicions
would probably never have been aroused."
Hall Pycroft shook his clinched hands in the air.
"Good Lord!" he cried, "while I have been fooled in
this way, what has this other Hall Pycroft been doing
at Mawson's? What should we do, Mr. Holmes? Tell me
what to do."
"We must wire to Mawson's."
"They shut at twelve on Saturdays."
"Never mind. There may be some door-keeper or
"Ah yes, they keep a permanent guard there on account
of the value of the securities that they hold. I
remember hearing it talked of in the City."
"Very good; we shall wire to him, and see if all is
well, and if a clerk of your name is working there.
That is clear enough; but what is not so clear is why
at sight of us one of the rogues should instantly walk
out of the room and hang himself."
"The paper!" croaked a voice behind us. The man was
sitting up, blanched and ghastly, with returning
reason in his eyes, and hands which rubbed nervously
at the broad red band which still encircled his
"The paper! Of course!" yelled Holmes, in a paroxysm
of excitement. "Idiot that I was! I thought so must
of our visit that the paper never entered my head for
an instant. To be sure, the secret must be there."
He flattened it out upon the table, and a cry of
triumph burst from his lips. "Look at this, Watson,"
he cried. "It is a London paper, an early edition of
the Evening Standard. Here is what we want. Look at
the headlines: 'Crime in the City. Murder at Mawson &
Williams's. Gigantic attempted Robbery. Capture of
the Criminal.' Here, Watson, we are all equally
anxious to hear it, so kindly read it aloud to us."
It appeared from its position in the paper to have
been the one event of importance in town, and the
account of it ran in this way:
"A desperate attempt at robbery, culminating in the
death of one man and the capture of the criminal,
occurred this afternoon in the City. For some time
back Mawson & Williams, the famous financial house,
have been the guardians of securities which amount in
the aggregate to a sum of considerably over a million
sterling. So conscious was the manager of the
responsibility which devolved upon him in consequence
of the great interests at stake that safes of the very
latest construction have been employed, and an armed
watchman has been left day and night in the building.
It appears that last week a new clerk named Hall
Pycroft was engaged by the firm. This person appears
to have been none other that Beddington, the famous
forger and cracksman, who, with his brother, had only
recently emerged from a five years' spell of penal
servitude. By some mean, which are not yet clear, he
succeeded in wining, under a false name, this official
position in the office, which he utilized in order to
obtain moulding of various locks, and a thorough
knowledge of the position of the strong room and the
"It is customary at Mawson's for the clerks to leave
at midday on Saturday. Sergeant Tuson, of the City
Police, was somewhat surprised, therefore to see a
gentleman with a carpet bag come down the steps at
twenty minutes past one. His suspicions being
aroused, the sergeant followed the man, and with the
aid of Constable Pollack succeeded, after a most
desperate resistance, in arresting him. It was at
once clear that a daring and gigantic robbery had been
committed. Nearly a hundred thousand pounds' worth of
American railway bonds, with a large amount of scrip
in mines and other companies, was discovered in the
bag. On examining the premises the body of the
unfortunate watchman was found doubled up and thrust
into the largest of the safes, where it would not have
been discovered until Monday morning had it not been
for the prompt action of Sergeant Tuson. The man's
skull had been shattered by a blow from a poker
delivered from behind. There could be no doubt that
Beddington had obtained entrance by pretending that he
had left something behind him, and having murdered the
watchman, rapidly rifled the large safe, and then made
off with his booty. His brother, who usually works
with him, has not appeared in this job as far as can
at present be ascertained, although the police are
making energetic inquiries as to his whereabouts."
"Well, we may save the police some little trouble in
that direction," said Holmes, glancing at the haggard
figure huddled up by the window. "Human nature is a
strange mixture, Watson. You see that even a villain
and murderer can inspire such affection that his
brother turns to suicide when he learns that his neck
is forfeited. However, we have no choice as to our
action. The doctor and I will remain on guard, Mr.
Pycroft, if you will have the kindness to step out for
The "Gloria Scott"
I have some papers here," said my friend Sherlock
Holmes, as we sat one winter's night on either side of
the fire, "which I really think, Watson, that it would
be worth your while to glance over. These are the