Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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for the first time. The poor girl, however, was
herself a prisoner, for there was no one about the
house except the man who acted as coachman, and his
wife, both of whom were tools of the conspirators.
Finding that their secret was out, and that their
prisoner was not to be coerced, the two villains with
the girl had fled away at a few hours' notice from the
furnished house which they had hired, having first, as
they thought, taken vengeance both upon the man who
had defied and the one who had betrayed them.
Months afterwards a curious newspaper cutting reached
us from Buda-Pesth. It told how two Englishmen who
had been traveling with a woman had met with a tragic
end. They had each been stabbed, it seems, and the
Hungarian police were of opinion that they had
quarreled and had inflicted mortal injuries upon each
other. Holmes, however, is, I fancy, of a different
way of thinking, and holds to this day that, if one
could find the Grecian girl, one might learn how the
wrongs of herself and her brother came to be avenged.
The Naval Treaty
The July which immediately succeeded my marriage was
made memorable by three cases of interest, in which I
had the privilege of being associated with Sherlock
Holmes and of studying his methods. I find them
recorded in my notes under the headings of "The
Adventure of the Second Stain," "The Adventure of the
Naval Treaty," and "The Adventure of the Tired
Captain." The first of these, however, deals with
interest of such importance and implicates so many of
the first families in the kingdom that for many years
it will be impossible to make it public. No case,
however, in which Holmes was engaged has ever
illustrated the value of his analytical methods so
clearly or has impressed those who were associated
with him so deeply. I still retain an almost verbatim
report of the interview in which he demonstrated the
true facts of the case to Monsieur Dubugue of the
Paris police, and Fritz von Waldbaum, the well-known
specialist of Dantzig, both of whom had wasted their
energies upon what proved to be side-issues. The new
century will have come, however, before the story can
be safely told. Meanwhile I pass on to the second on
my list, which promised also at one time to be of
national importance, and was marked by several
incidents which give it a quite unique character.
During my school-days I had been intimately associated
with a lad named Percy Phelps, who was of much the
same age as myself, though he was two classes ahead of
me. He was a very brilliant boy, and carried away
every prize which the school had to offer, finished
his exploits by winning a scholarship which sent him
on to continue his triumphant career at Cambridge. He
was, I remember, extremely well connected, and even
when we were all little boys together we knew that his
mother's brother was Lord Holdhurst, the great
conservative politician. This gaudy relationship did
him little good at school. On the contrary, it seemed
rather a piquant thing to us to chevy him about the
playground and hit him over the shins with a wicket.
But it was another thing when he came out into the
world. I heard vaguely that his abilities and the
influences which he commanded had won him a good
position at the Foreign Office, and then he passed
completely out of my mind until the following letter
recalled his existence:
My dear Watson,--I have no doubt that you can remember
"Tadpole" Phelps, who was in the fifth form when you
were in the third. It is possible even that you may
have heard that through my uncle's influence I
obtained a good appointment at the Foreign Office, and
that I was in a situation of trust and honor until a
horrible misfortune came suddenly to blast my career.
There is no use writing of the details of that
dreadful event. In the event of your acceding to my
request it is probably that I shall have to narrate
them to you. I have only just recovered from nine
weeks of brain-fever, and am still exceedingly weak.
Do you think that you could bring your friend Mr.
Holmes down to see me? I should like to have his
opinion of the case, though the authorities assure me
that nothing more can be done. Do try to bring him
down, and as soon as possible. Every minute seems an
hour while I live in this state of horrible suspense.
Assure him that if I have not asked his advice sooner
it was not because I did not appreciate his talents,
but because I have been off my head ever since the
blow fell. Now I am clear again, though I dare not
think of it too much for fear of a relapse. I am still
so weak that I have to write, as you see, by dictating.
Do try to bring him.
Your old school-fellow,
There was something that touched me as I read this
letter, something pitiable in the reiterated appeals
to bring Holmes. So moved was I that even had it been
a difficult matter I should have tried it, but of
course I knew well that Holmes loved his art, so that
he was ever as ready to bring his aid as his client
could be to receive it. My wife agreed with me that
not a moment should be lost in laying the matter
before him, and so within an hour of breakfast-time I
found myself back once more in the old rooms in Baker
Holmes was seated at his side-table clad in his
dressing-gown, and working hard over a chemical
investigation. A large curved retort was boiling
furiously in the bluish flame of a Bunsen burner, and
the distilled drops were condensing into a two-litre
measure. My friend hardly glanced up as I entered,
and I, seeing that his investigation must be of
importance, seated myself in an arm-chair and waited.
He dipped into this bottle or that, drawing out a few
drops of each with his glass pipette, and finally
brought a test-tube containing a solution over to the
table. In his right hand he held a slip of
"You come at a crisis, Watson," said he. "If this
paper remains blue, all is well. If it turns red, it
means a man's life." He dipped it into the test-tube
and it flushed at once into a dull, dirty crimson.
"Hum! I thought as much!" he cried. "I will be at
your service in an instant, Watson. You will find
tobacco in the Persian slipper." He turned to his
desk and scribbled off several telegrams, which were
handed over to the page-boy. Then he threw himself
down into the chair opposite, and drew up his knees
until his fingers clasped round his long, thin shins.
"A very commonplace little murder," said he. "You've
got something better, I fancy. You are the stormy
petrel of crime, Watson. What is it?"
I handed him the letter, which he read with the most
"It does not tell us very much, does it?" he remarked,
as he handed it back to me.
"And yet the writing is of interest."
"But the writing is not his own."
"Precisely. It is a woman's."
"A man's surely," I cried.
"No, a woman's, and a woman of rare character. You
see, at the commencement of an investigation it is
something to know that your client is in close contact
with some one who, for good or evil, has an
exceptional nature. My interest is already awakened
in the case. If you are ready we will start at once
for Woking, and see this diplomatist who is in such
evil case, and the lady to whom he dictates his
We were fortunate enough to catch an early train at
Waterloo, and in a little under an hour we found
ourselves among the fir-woods and the heather of
Woking. Briarbrae proved to be a large detached house
standing in extensive grounds within a few minutes'
walk of the station. On sending in our cards we were
shown into an elegantly appointed drawing-room, where
we were joined in a few minutes by a rather stout man
who received us with much hospitality. His age may
have been nearer forty than thirty, but his cheeks
were so ruddy and his eyes so merry that he still
conveyed the impression of a plump and mischievous
"I am so glad that you have come," said he, shaking
our hands with effusion. "Percy has been inquiring
for you all morning. Ah, poor old chap, he clings to
any straw! His father and his mother asked me to see
you, for the mere mention of the subject is very
painful to them."