Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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carried from the cellar we found ourselves still
confronted with a problem which was almost as
formidable as that with which we had started.
"I confess that so far, Watson, I had been
disappointed in my investigation. I had reckoned upon
solving the matter when once I had found the place
referred to in the Ritual; but now I was there, and
was apparently as far as ever from knowing what it was
which the family had concealed with such elaborate
precautions. It is true that I had thrown a light
upon the fate of Brunton, but now I had to ascertain
how that fate had come upon him, and what part had
been played in the matter by the woman who had
disappeared. I sat down upon a keg in the corner and
thought the whole matter carefully over.
"You know my methods in such cases, Watson. I put
myself in the man's place and, having first gauged his
intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself
have proceeded under the same circumstances. In this
case the matter was simplified by Brunton's
intelligence being quite first-rate, so that it was
unnecessary to make any allowance for the personal
equation, as the astronomers have dubbed it. He know
that something valuable was concealed. He had spotted
the place. He found that the stone which covered it
was just too heavy for a man to move unaided. What
would he do next? He could not get help from outside,
even if he had some one whom he could trust, without
the unbarring of doors and considerable risk of
detection. It was better, if he could, to have his
helpmate inside the house. But whom could he ask?
This girl had been devoted to him. A man always finds
it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a
woman's love, however badly he may have treated her.
He would try by a few attentions to make his peace
with the girl Howells, and then would engage her as
his accomplice. Together they would come at night to
the cellar, and their united force would suffice to
raise the stone. So far I could follow their actions
as if I had actually seen them.
"But for two of them, and one a woman, it must have
been heavy work the raising of that stone. A burly
Sussex policeman and I had found it no light job.
What would they do to assist them? Probably what I
should have done myself. I rose and examined
carefully the different billets of wood which were
scattered round the floor. Almost at once I came upon
what I expected. One piece, about three feet in
length, had a very marked indentation at one end,
while several were flattened at the sides as if they
had been compressed by some considerable weight.
Evidently, as they had dragged the stone up they had
thrust the chunks of wood into the chink, until at
last, when the opening was large enough to crawl
through, they would hold it open by a billet placed
lengthwise, which might very well become indented at
the lower end, since the whole weight of the stone
would press it down on to the edge of this other slab.
So far I was still on safe ground.
"And now how was I to proceed to reconstruct this
midnight drama? Clearly, only one could fit into the
hole, and that one was Brunton. The girl must have
waited above. Brunton then unlocked the box, handed
up the contents presumably--since they were not to be
found--and then--and then what happened?
"What smouldering fire of vengeance had suddenly
sprung into flame in this passionate Celtic woman's
soul when she saw the man who had wronged her--wronged
her, perhaps, far more than we suspected--in her
power? Was it a chance that the wood had slipped, and
that the stone had shut Brunton into what had become
his sepulchre? Had she only been guilty of silence as
to his fate? Or had some sudden blow from her hand
dashed the support away and sent the slab crashing
down into its place? Be that as it might, I seemed to
see that woman's figure still clutching at her
treasure trove and flying wildly up the winding stair,
with her ears ringing perhaps with the muffled screams
from behind her and with the drumming of frenzied
hands against the slab of stone which was choking her
faithless lover's life out.
"Here was the secret of her blanched face, her shaken
nerves, her peals of hysterical laughter on the next
morning. But what had been in the box? What had she
done with that? Of course, it must have been the old
metal and pebbles which my client had dragged from the
mere. She had thrown them in there at the first
opportunity to remove the last trace of her crime.
"For twenty minutes I had sat motionless, thinking the
matter out. Musgrave still stood with a very pale
face, swinging his lantern and peering down into the
"'These are coins of Charles the First,' said he,
holding out the few which had been in the box; 'you
see we were right in fixing our date for the Ritual.'
"'We may find something else of Charles the First,' I
cried, as the probable meaning of the first two
question of the Ritual broke suddenly upon me. 'Let
me see the contents of the bag which you fished from
"We ascended to his study, and he laid the debris
before me. I could understand his regarding it as of
small importance when I looked at it, for the metal
was almost black and the stones lustreless and dull.
I rubbed one of them on my sleeve, however, and it
glowed afterwards like a spark in the dark hollow of
my hand. The metal work was in the form of a double
ring, but it had been bent and twisted out of its
"'You must bear in mind,' said I, 'that the royal
party made head in England even after the death of the
king, and that when they at last fled they probably
left many of their most precious possession buried
behind them, with the intention of returning for them
in more peaceful times.'
"'My ancestor, Sir Ralph Musgrave, as a prominent
Cavalier and the right-hand man of Charles the Second
in his wanderings,' said my friend.
"'Ah, indeed!' I answered. 'Well now, I think that
really should give us the last link that we wanted. I
must congratulate you on coming into the possession,
though in rather a tragic manner of a relic which is
of great intrinsic value, but of even greater
importance as an historical curiosity.'
"'What is it, then?' he gasped in astonishment.
"'It is nothing less than the ancient crown of the
kings of England.'
"'Precisely. Consider what the Ritual says: How does
it run? "Whose was it?" "His who is gone." That was
after the execution of Charles. Then, "Who shall have
it?" "He who will come." That was Charles the
Second, whose advent was already foreseen. There can,
I think, be no doubt that this battered and shapeless
diadem once encircled the brows of the royal Stuarts.'
"'And how came it in the pond?'
"'Ah, that is a question that will take some time to
answer.' And with that I sketched out to him the
whole long chain of surmise and of proof which I had
constructed. The twilight had closed in and the moon
was shining brightly in the sky before my narrative
"'And how was it then that Charles did not get his
crown when he returned?' asked Musgrave, pushing back
the relic into its linen bag.
"'Ah, there you lay your finger upon the one point
which we shall probably never be able to clear up. It
is likely that the Musgrave who held the secret died
in the interval, and by some oversight left this guide
to his descendant without explaining the meaning of
it. From that day to this it has been handed down
from father to son, until at last it came within reach
of a man who tore its secret out of it and lost his
life in the venture.'
"And that's the story of the Musgrave Ritual, Watson.
They have the crown down at Hurlstone--though they had
some legal bother and a considerable sum to pay before
they were allowed to retain it. I am sure that if you
mentioned my name they would be happy to show it to
you. Of the woman nothing was ever heard, and the
probability is that she got away out of England and
carried herself and the memory of her crime to some
land beyond the seas."
The Reigate Puzzle
It was some time before the health of my friend Mr.
Sherlock Holmes recovered from the strain caused by
his immense exertions in the spring of '87. The whole
question of the Netherland-Sumatra Company and of the