Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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"The greatest possible."
"Perhaps you would like me the stay there to-night?"
"I was just going to propose it."
"Then, if my friend of the night comes to revisit me,
he will find the bird flown. We are all in your
hands, Mr. Holmes, and you must tell us exactly what
you would like done. Perhaps you would prefer that
Joseph came wit us so as to look after me?"
"Oh, no; my friend Watson is a medical man, you know,
and he'll look after you. We'll have our lunch here,
if you will permit us, and then we shall al three set
off for town together."
It was arranged as he suggested, though Miss Harrison
excused herself from leaving the bedroom, in
accordance with Holmes's suggestion. What the object
of my friend's manoeuvres was I could not conceive,
unless it were to keep the lady away from Phelps, who,
rejoiced by his returning health and by the prospect
of action, lunched with us in the dining-room. Holmes
had still more startling surprise for us, however,
for, after accompanying us down to the station and
seeing us into our carriage, he calmly announced that
he had no intention of leaving Woking.
"There are one or two small points which I should
desire to clear up before I go," said he. "Your
absence, Mr. Phelps, will in some ways rather assist
me. Watson, when you reach London you would oblige me
by driving at once to Baker Street with our friend
here, and remaining with him until I see you again.
It is fortunate that you are old school-fellows, as
you must have much to talk over. Mr. Phelps can have
the spare bedroom to-night, and I will be with you in
time for breakfast, for there is a train which will
take me into Waterloo at eight."
"But how about our investigation in London?" asked
"We can do that to-morrow. I think that just at
present I can be of more immediate use here."
"You might tell them at Briarbrae that I hope to be
back to-morrow night," cried Phelps, as we began to
move from the platform.
"I hardly expect to go back to Briarbrae," answered
Holmes, and waved his hand to us cheerily as we shot
out from the station.
Phelps and I talked it over on our journey, but
neither of us could devise a satisfactory reason for
this new development.
"I suppose he wants to find out some clue as to the
burglary last night, if a burglar it was. For myself,
I don't believe it was an ordinary thief."
"What is your own idea, then?"
"Upon my word, you may put it down to my weak nerves
or not, but I believe there is some deep political
intrigue going on around me, and that for some reason
that passes my understanding my life is aimed at by
the conspirators. It sounds high-flown and absurd,
but consider the fats! Why should a thief try to
break in at a bedroom window, where there could be no
hope of any plunder, and why should he come with a
long knife in his hand?"
"You are sure it was not a house-breaker's jimmy?"
"Oh, no, it was a knife. I saw the flash of the blade
"But why on earth should you be pursued with such
"Ah, that is the question."
"Well, if Holmes takes the same view, that would
account for his action, would it not? Presuming that
your theory is correct, if he can lay his hands upon
the man who threatened you last night he will have
gone a long way towards finding who took the naval
treaty. It is absurd to suppose that you have two
enemies, one of whom robs you, while the other
threatens your life."
"But Holmes said that he was not going to Briarbrae."
"I have known him for some time," said I, "but I never
knew him do anything yet without a very good reason,"
and with that our conversation drifted off on to other
But it was a weary day for me. Phelps was still weak
after his long illness, and his misfortune made him
querulous and nervous. In vain I endeavored to
interest him in Afghanistan, in India, in social
questions, in anything which might take his mind out
of the groove. He would always come back to his lost
treaty, wondering, guessing, speculating, as to what
Holmes was doing, what steps Lord Holdhurst was
taking, what news we should have in the morning. As
the evening wore on his excitement became quite
"You have implicit faith in Holmes?" he asked.
"I have seen him do some remarkable things."
"But he never brought light into anything quite so
dark as this?"
"Oh, yes; I have known him solve questions which
presented fewer clues than yours."
"But not where such large interests are at stake?"
"I don't know that. To my certain knowledge he has
acted on behalf of three of the reigning houses of
Europe in very vital matters."
"But you know him well, Watson. He is such an
inscrutable fellow that I never quite know what to
make of him. Do you think he is hopeful? Do you
think he expects to make a success of it?"
"He has said nothing."
"That is a bad sign."
"On the contrary, I have noticed that when he is off
the trail he generally says so. It is when he is on a
scent and is not quite absolutely sure yet that it is
the right one that he is most taciturn. Now, my dear
fellow, we can't help matter by making ourselves
nervous about them, so let me implore you to go to bed
and so be fresh for whatever may await us to-morrow."
I was able at last to persuade my companion to take my
advice, though I knew from his excited manner that
there was not much hope of sleep for him. Indeed, his
mood was infectious, for I lay tossing half the night
myself, brooding over this strange problem, and
inventing a hundred theories, each of which was more
impossible than the last. Why had Holmes remained at
Woking? Why had he asked Miss Harrison to remain in
the sick-room all day? Why had he been so careful not
to inform the people at Briarbrae that he intended to
remain near them? I cudgelled my brains until I fell
asleep in the endeavor to find some explanation which
would cover all these facts.
It was seven o'clock when I awoke, and I set off at
once for Phelps's room, to find him haggard and spent
after a sleepless night. His first question was
whether Holmes had arrived yet.
"He'll be here when he promised," said I, "and not an
instant sooner or later."
And my words were true, for shortly after eight a
hansom dashed up to the door and our friend got out of
it. Standing in the window we saw that his left hand
was swathed in a bandage and that his face was very
grim and pale. He entered the house, but it was some
little time before he came upstairs.
"He looks like a beaten man," cried Phelps.
I was forced to confess that he was right. "After
all," said I, "the clue of the matter lies probably
here in town."
Phelps gave a groan.
"I don't know how it is," said he, "but I had hoped
for so much from his return. But surely his hand was
not tied up like that yesterday. What can be the
"You are not wounded, Holmes?" I asked, as my friend
entered the room.
"Tut, it is only a scratch through my own clumsiness,"
he answered, nodding his good-mornings to us. "This
case of yours, Mr. Phelps, is certainly one of the
darkest which I have ever investigated."
"I feared that you would find it beyond you."
"It has been a most remarkable experience."