Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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importance fro the Foreign Office, and that you ran in
here to dispose of it. You must come back with us to
Scotland Yard to be searched.'
"It was in vain that she protested and resisted. A
four-wheeler was brought, and we all three drove back
in it. We had first made an examination of the
kitchen, and especially of the kitchen fire, to see
whether she might have made away with the papers
during the instant that she was alone. There were no
signs, however, of any ashes or scraps. When we
reached Scotland Yard she was handed over at once to
the female searcher. I waited in an agony of suspense
until she came back with her report. There were no
signs of the papers.
"Then for the first time the horror of my situation
came in its full force. Hitherto I had been acting,
and action had numbed thought. I had been so
confident of regaining the treaty at once that I had
not dared to think of what would be the consequence if
I failed to do so. But now there was nothing more to
be done, and I had leisure to realize my position. It
was horrible. Watson there would tell you that I was
a nervous, sensitive boy at school. It is my nature.
I thought of my uncle and of his colleagues in the
Cabinet, of the shame which I had brought upon him,
upon myself, upon every one connected with me. What
though I was the victim of an extraordinary accident?
No allowance is made for accidents where diplomatic
interests are at stake. I was ruined, shamefully,
hopelessly ruined. I don't know what I did. I fancy
I must have made a scene. I have a dim recollection
of a group of officials who crowded round me,
endeavoring to soothe me. One of them drove down with
me to Waterloo, and saw me into the Woking train. I
believe that he would have come all the way had it not
been that Dr. Ferrier, who lives near me, was going
down by that very train. The doctor most kindly took
charge of me, and it was well he did so, for I had a
fit in the station, and before we reached home I was
practically a raving maniac.
"You can imagine the state of things here when they
were roused from their beds by the doctor's ringing
and found me in this condition. Poor Annie here and
my mother were broken-hearted. Dr. Ferrier had just
heard enough from the detective at the station to be
able to give an idea of what had happened, and his
story did not mend matters. It was evident to all
that I was in for a long illness, so Joseph was
bundled out of this cheery bedroom, and it was turned
into a sick-room for me. Here I have lain, Mr.
Holmes, for over nine weeks, unconscious, and raving
with brain-fever. If it had not been for Miss
Harrison here and for the doctor's care I should not
be speaking to you now. She has nursed me by day and
a hired nurse has looked after me by night, for in my
mad fits I was capable of anything. Slowly my reason
has cleared, but it is only during the last three days
that my memory has quite returned. Sometimes I wish
that it never had. The first thing that I did was to
wire to Mr. Forbes, who had the case in hand. He came
out, and assures me that, though everything has been
done, no trace of a clue has been discovered. The
commissionnaire and his wife have been examined in
every way without any light being thrown upon the
matter. The suspicions of the police then rested upon
young Gorot, who, as you may remember, stayed over
time in the office that night. His remaining behind
and is French name were really the only two points
which could suggest suspicion; but, as a matter of
fact, I did not begin work until he had gone, and his
people are of Huguenot extraction, but as English in
sympathy and tradition as you and I are. Nothing was
found to implicate him in any way, and there the
matter dropped. I turn to you, Mr. Holmes, as
absolutely my last hope. If you fail me, then my
honor as well as my position are forever forfeited."
The invalid sank back upon his cushions, tired out by
this long recital, while his nurse poured him out a
glass of some stimulating medicine. Holmes sat
silently, with his head thrown back and his eyes
closed, in an attitude which might seem listless to a
stranger, but which I knew betokened the most intense
"You statement has been so explicit," said he at last,
"that you have really left me very few questions to
ask. There is one of the very utmost importance,
however. Did you tell any one that you had this
special task to perform?"
"Not Miss Harrison here, for example?"
"No. I had not been back to Woking between getting
the order and executing the commission."
"And none of your people had by chance been to see
"Did any of them know their way about in the office?"
"Oh, yes, all of them had been shown over it."
"Still, of course, if you said nothing to any one
about the treaty these inquiries are irrelevant."
"I said nothing."
"Do you know anything of the commissionnaire?"
"Nothing except that he is an old soldier."
"Oh, I have heard--Coldstream Guards."
"Thank you. I have no doubt I can get details from
Forbes. The authorities are excellent at amassing
facts, though they do not always use them to
advantage. What a lovely thing a rose is!"
He walked past the couch to the open window, and held
up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at
the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new
phase of his character to me, for I had never before
seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.
"There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary
as in religion," said he, leaning with his back
against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact
science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the
goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the
flowers. All other things, our powers our desires,
our food, are all really necessary for our existence
in the first instance. But this rose is an extra.
Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life,
not a condition of it. It is only goodness which
gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to
hope from the flowers.
Percy Phelps and his nurse looked at Holmes during
this demonstration with surprise and a good deal of
disappointment written upon their faces. He had
fallen into a reverie, with the moss-rose between his
fingers. It had lasted some minutes before the young
lady broke in upon it.
"Do you see any prospect of solving this mystery, Mr.
Holmes?" she asked, with a touch of asperity in her
"Oh, the mystery!" he answered, coming back with a
start to the realities of life. "Well, it would be
absurd to deny that the case is a very abstruse and
complicated one, but I can promise you that I will
look into the matter and let you know any points which
may strike me."
"Do you see any clue?"
"You have furnished me with seven, but, of course, I
must test them before I can pronounce upon their
"You suspect some one?"
"I suspect myself."
"Of coming to conclusions to rapidly."
"Then go to London and test your conclusions."
"Your advice is very excellent, Miss Harrison," said
Holmes, rising. "I think, Watson, we cannot do
better. Do not allow yourself to indulge in false
hopes, Mr. Phelps. The affair is a very tangled one."
"I shall be in a fever until I see you again," cried
"Well, I'll come out be the same train to-morrow,
though it's more than likely that my report will be a
"God bless you for promising to come," cried our
client. "It gives me fresh life to know that
something is being done. By the way, I have had a
letter from Lord Holdhurst."
"Ha! What did he say?"