Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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"Oh, this is an Havana, and these others are cigars of
the peculiar sort which are imported by the Dutch from
their East Indian colonies. They are usually wrapped
in straw, you know, and are thinner for their length
than any other brand." He picked up the four ends and
examined them with his pocket-lens.
"Two of these have been smoked from a holder and two
without," said he. "Two have been cut by a not very
sharp knife, and two have had the ends bitten off by a
set of excellent teeth. This is no suicide, Mr.
Lanner. It is a very deeply planned and cold-blooded
"Impossible!" cried the inspector.
"Why should any one murder a man in so clumsy a
fashion as by hanging him?"
"That is what we have to find out."
"How could they get in?"
"Through the front door."
"It was barred in the morning."
"Then it was barred after them."
"How do you know?"
"I saw their traces. Excuse me a moment, and I may be
able to give you some further information about it."
He went over to the door, and turning the lock he
examined it in his methodical way. Then he took out
the key, which was on the inside, and inspected that
also. The bed, the carpet, the chairs the
mantelpiece, the dead body, and the rope were each in
turn examined, until at last he professed himself
satisfied, and with my aid and that of the inspector
cut down the wretched object and laid it reverently
under a sheet.
"How about this rope?" he asked.
"It is cut off this," said Dr. Trevelyan, drawing a
large coil from under the bed. "He was morbidly
nervous of fire, and always kept this beside him, so
that he might escape by the window in case the stairs
"That must have saved them trouble," said Holmes,
thoughtfully. "Yes, the actual facts are very plain,
and I shall be surprised if by the afternoon I cannot
give you the reasons for them as well. I will take
this photograph of Blessington, which I see upon the
mantelpiece, as it may help me in my inquiries."
"But you have told us nothing!" cried the doctor.
"Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of
events," said Holmes. "There were three of them in
it: the young man, the old man, and a third, to whose
identity I have no clue. The first two, I need hardly
remark, are the same who masqueraded as the Russian
count and his son, so we can give a very full
description of them. They were admitted by a
confederate inside the house. If I might offer you a
word of advice, Inspector, it would be to arrest the
page, who, as I understand, has only recently come
into your service, Doctor."
"The young imp cannot be found," said Dr. Trevelyan;
"the maid and the cook have just been searching for
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
"He has played a not unimportant part in this drama,"
said he. "The three men having ascended the stairs,
which they did on tiptoe, the elder man first, the
younger man second, and the unknown man in the rear--"
"My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.
"Oh, there could be no question as to the
superimposing of the footmarks. I had the advantage
of learning which was which last night. They
ascended, then, to Mr. Blessington's room, the door of
which they found to be locked. With the help of a
wire, however, they forced round the key. Even
without the lens you will perceive, by the scratches
on this ward, where the pressure was applied.
"On entering the room their first proceeding must have
been to gag Mr. Blessington. He may have been asleep,
or he may have been so paralyzed with terror as to
have been unable to cry out. These walls are thick,
and it is conceivable that his shriek, if he had time
to utter one, was unheard.
"Having secured him, it is evident to me that a
consultation of some sort was held. Probably it was
something in the nature of a judicial proceeding. It
must have lasted for some time, for it was then that
these cigars were smoke. The older man sat in that
wicker chair; it was he who used the cigar-holder.
The younger man sat over yonder; he knocked his ash
off against the chest of drawers. The third fellow
paced up and down. Blessington, I think, sat upright
in the bed, but of that I cannot be absolutely
"Well, it ended by their taking Blessington and
hanging him. The matter was so prearranged that it is
my belief that they brought with them some sort of
block or pulley which might serve as a gallows. That
screw-driver and those screws were, as I conceive, for
fixing it up. Seeing the hook, however they naturally
saved themselves the trouble. Having finished their
work they made off, and the door was barred behind
them by their confederate."
We had all listened with the deepest interest to this
sketch of the night's doings, which Holmes had deduced
from signs so subtle and minute that, even when he had
pointed them out to us, we could scarcely follow him
in his reasoning. The inspector hurried away on the
instant to make inquiries about the page, while Holmes
and I returned to Baker Street for breakfast.
"I'll be back by three," said he, when we had finished
our meal. "Both the inspector and the doctor will
meet me here at that hour, and I hope by that time to
have cleared up any little obscurity which the case
may still present."
Our visitors arrived at the appointed time, but it was
a quarter to four before my friend put in an
appearance. From his expression as he entered,
however, I could see that all had gone well with him.
"Any news, Inspector?"
"We have got the boy, sir."
"Excellent, and I have got the men."
"You have got them!" we cried, all three.
"Well, at least I have got their identity. This
so-called Blessington is, as I expected, well known at
headquarters, and so are his assailants. Their names
are Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat."
"The Worthingdon bank gang," cried the inspector.
"Precisely," said Holmes.
"Then Blessington must have been Sutton."
"Exactly," said Holmes.
"Why, that makes it as clear as crystal," said the
But Trevelyan and I looked at each other in
"You must surely remember the great Worthingdon bank
business," said Holmes. "Five men were in it--these
four and a fifth called Cartwright. Tobin, the
care-taker, was murdered, and the thieves got away
with seven thousand pounds. This was in 1875. They
were all five arrested, but the evidence against them
was by no means conclusive. This Blessington or
Sutton, who was the worst of the gang, turned
informer. On his evidence Cartwright was hanged and
the other three got fifteen years apiece. When they
got out the other day, which was some years before
their full term, they set themselves, as you perceive,
to hunt down the traitor and to avenge the death of
their comrade upon him. Twice they tried to get at
him and failed; a third time, you see, it came off.
Is there anything further which I can explain, Dr.
"I think you have made it all remarkable clear," said
the doctor. "No doubt the day on which he was
perturbed was the day when he had seen of their
release in the newspapers."
"Quite so. His talk about a burglary was the merest
"But why could he not tell you this?"