Scandal in Bohemia
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he is mistaken in thinking that I was following my father. I had
no idea that he was in front of me. When about a hundred yards
from the pool I heard a cry of 'Cooee!' which was a usual signal
between my father and myself. I then hurried forward, and found
him standing by the pool. He appeared to be much surprised at
seeing me and asked me rather roughly what I was doing there. A
conversation ensued which led to high words and almost to blows,
for my father was a man of a very violent temper. Seeing that his
passion was becoming ungovernable, I left him and returned
towards Hatherley Farm. I had not gone more than 150 yards,
however, when I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which caused me
to run back again. I found my father expiring upon the ground,
with his head terribly injured. I dropped my gun and held him in
my arms, but he almost instantly expired. I knelt beside him for
some minutes, and then made my way to Mr. Turner's lodge-keeper,
his house being the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw no one
near my father when I returned, and I have no idea how he came by
his injuries. He was not a popular man, being somewhat cold and
forbidding in his manners, but he had, as far as I know, no
active enemies. I know nothing further of the matter."
"The Coroner: 'Did your father make any statement to you before
"Witness: 'He mumbled a few words, but I could only catch some
allusion to a rat.'
"The Coroner: 'What did you understand by that?'
"Witness: 'It conveyed no meaning to me. I thought that he was
"The Coroner: 'What was the point upon which you and your father
had this final quarrel?'
"Witness: 'I should prefer not to answer.'
"The Coroner: 'I am afraid that I must press it.'
"Witness: 'It is really impossible for me to tell you. I can
assure you that it has nothing to do with the sad tragedy which
"The Coroner: 'That is for the court to decide. I need not point
out to you that your refusal to answer will prejudice your case
considerably in any future proceedings which may arise'
"Witness: 'I must still refuse.'
"The Coroner: 'I understand that the cry of "Cooee" was a common
signal between you and your father?'
"Witness: 'It was.'
"The Coroner: 'How was it, then, that he uttered it before he saw
you, and before he even knew that you had returned from Bristol?'
"Witness (with considerable confusion): 'I do not know.'
"A Juryman: 'Did you see nothing which aroused your suspiclons
when you returned on hearing the cry and found your father
"Witness: 'Nothing definite.'
"The Coroner: 'What do you mean?'
"Witness: 'I was so disturbed and excited as I rushed out into
the open, that I could think of nothing except of my father. Yet
I have a vague impression that as I ran forward something lay
upon the ground to the left of me. It seemed to me to be
something gray in color, a coat of some sort, or a plaid perhaps.
When I rose from my father I looked round for it, but it was
"'Do you mean that it disappeared before you went for help?'
"'Yes, it was gone.'
"'You cannot say what it was?'
"'No, I had a feeling something was there.'
"'How far from the body?'
"'A dozen yards or so.'
"'And how far from the edge of the wood?'
"'About the same.'
"'Then if it was removed it was while you were within a dozen
yards of it?'
"'Yes, but with my back towards it.'
"This concluded the examination of the witness."
"I see," said I as I glanced down the column, "that the coroner
in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young McCarthy.
He calls attention, and with reason, to the discrepancy about his
father having signalled to him before seeing him also to his
refusal to give details of his conversation with his father, and
his singular account of his father's dying words. They are all,
as he remarks, very much against the son."
Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched himself out upon
the cushioned seat. "Both you and the coroner have been at some
pains," said he, "to single out the very strongest points in the
young man's favor. Don't you see that you alternately give him
credit for having too much imaginition and too little? Too
little, if he could not invent a cause of quarrel which would
give him the sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from
his own inner consciousness anything so outre as a dying
reference to a rat, and the incident of the vanishing cloth. No,
sir, I shall approach this case from the point of view that what
this young man says is true, and we shall see whither that
hypothesis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Petrarch, and
not another word shall I say of this case until we are on the
scene of action. We lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be
there in twenty minutes."
It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing through
the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming Severn,
found ourselves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A
lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for
us upon the platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and
leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic
surroundings, I had no difficulty in recognizing Lestrade, of
Scotland Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford Arms where a
room had already been engaged for us.
"I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade as we sat over a cup
of tea. "I knew your energetic nature, and that you would not be
happy until you had been on the scene of the crime."
"It was very nice and complimentary of you," Holmes answered. "It
is entirely a question of barometric pressure."
Lestrade looked startled. "I do not quite follow," he said.
"How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not a cloud
in the sky. I have a caseful of cigarettes here which need
smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country
hotel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I
shall use the carriage to-night."
Lestrade laughed indulgently. "You have, no doubt, already formed
your conclusions from the newspapers," he said. "The case is as
plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer
it becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, and such a
very positive one, too. She has heard of you, and would have your
opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was nothing
which you could do which I had not already done. Why, bless my
soul! here is her carriage at the door."
He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of the
most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life. Her
violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink flush upon her
cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her
overpowering excitement and concern.
"Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" she cried, glancing from one to the
other of us, and finally, with a woman's quick intuition,
fastening upon my companion, "I am so glad that you have come. I
have driven down to tell you so. I know that James didn't do it.
I know it, and I want you to start upon your work knowing it,
too. Never let yourself doubt upon that point. We have known each
other since we were little children, and I know his faults as no
one else does; but he is too tenderhearted to hurt a fly. Such a
charge is absurd to anyone who really knows him."
"I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner," said Sherlock Holmes.
"You may rely upon my doing all that I can."
"But you have read the evidence. You have formed some conclusion?
Do you not see some loophole, some flaw? Do you not yourself
think that he is innocent?"
"I think that it is very probable."
"There, now!" she cried, throwing back her head and looking
defiantly at Lestrade. "You hear! He gives me hopes."
Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am afraid that my colleague
has been a little quick in forming his conclusions," he said.
"But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. James never did
it. And about his quarrel with his father, I am sure that the
reason why he would not speak about it to the coroner was because
I was concerned in it."
"In what way?" asked Holmes.
"It is no time for me to hide anything. James and his father had
many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that
there should be a marriage between us. James and I have always
loved each other as brother and sister; but of course he is young
and has seen very little of life yet, and--and--well, he
naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there