The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
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more feeble than his own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a
sudden effort, straightened it out again.
"Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with the official detective
force! This incident gives zest to our investigation, however, and I only trust
that our little friend will not suffer from her imprudence in allowing this
brute to trace her. And now, Watson, we shall order breakfast, and afterwards I
shall walk down to Doctors' Commons, where I hope to get some data which may
help us in this matter."
It was nearly one o'clock when Sherlock Holmes returned from his
excursion. He held in his hand a sheet of blue paper, scrawled over with notes
"I have seen the will of the deceased wife," said he. "To determine its
exact meaning I have been obliged to work out the present prices of the
investments with which it is concerned. The total income, which at the time of
the wife's death was little short of 1100 pounds, is now, through the fall in
agricultural prices, not more than 750 pounds. Each daughter can claim an income
of 250 pounds, in case of marriage. It is evident, therefore, that if both girls
had married, this beauty would have had a mere pittance, while even one of them
would cripple him to a very serious extent. My morning's work has not been
wasted, since it has proved that he has the very strongest motives for standing
in the way of anything of the sort. And now, Watson, this is too serious for
dawdling, especially as the old man is aware that we are interesting ourselves
in his affairs; so if you are ready, we shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo.
I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket.
An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel
pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need."
At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for Leatherhead, where we
hired a trap at the station inn and drove for four or five miles through the
lovely Surrey laries. It was a perfect day, with a bright sun and a few fleecy
clouds in the heavens. The trees and wayside hedges were just throwing out their
first green shoots, and the air was full of the pleasant smell of the moist
earth. To me at least there was a strange contrast between the sweet promise of
the spring and this sinister quest upon which we were engaged. My companion sat
in the front of the trap, his arms folded, his hat pulled down over his eyes,
and his chin sunk upon his breast, buried in the deepest thought. Suddenly,
however, he started, tapped me on the shoulder, and pointed over the meadows
"Look there!" said he.
A heavily timbered park stretched up in a gentle slope, thickening into a
grove at the highest point. From amid the branches there jutted out the gray
gables and high roof-tree of a very old mansion.
"Stoke Moran?" said he.
"Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott," remarked the driver.
"There is some building going on there," said Holmes; "that is where we are
"There's the village," said the driver, pointing to a cluster of roofs some
distance to the left; "but if you want to get to the house, you'll find it
shorter to get over this stile, and so by the foot-path over the fields. There
it is, where the lady is walking."
"And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner," observed Holmes, shading his eyes.
"Yes, I think we had better do as you suggest."
We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled back on its way to
"I thought it as well," said Holmes as we climbed the stile, "that this
fellow should think we had come here as architects, or on some definite
business. It may stop his gossip. Good-afternoon, Miss Stoner. You see that we
have been as good as our word."
Our client of the morning had hurried forward to meet us with a face which
spoke her joy. "I have been waiting so eagerly for you," she cried, shaking
hands with us warmly. "All has turned out splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to
town, and it is unlikely that he will be back before evening."
"We have had the pleasure of making the doctor's acquaintance," said
Holmes, and in a few words he sketched out what had occurred. Miss Stoner turned
white to the lips as she listened.
"Good heavens!" she cried, "he has followed me, then."
"So it appears."
"He is so cunning that I never know when I am safe from him. What will he
say when he returns?"
"He must guard himself, for he may find that there is someone more cunning
than himself upon his track. You must lock yourself up from him to-night. If he
is violent, we shall take you away to your aunt's at Harrow. Now, we must make
the best use of our time, so kindly take us at once to the rooms which we are to
The building was of gray, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central
portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each
side. In one of these wings the windows were broken and blocked with wooden
boards, while the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The central
portion was in little better repair, but the right-hand block was comparatively
modern, and the blinds in the windows, with the blue smoke curling up from the
chimneys, showed that this was where the family resided. Some scaffolding had
been erected against the end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, but
there were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our visit. Holmes walked
slowly up and down the ill-trimmed lawn and examined with deep attention the
outsides of the windows.
"This, I take it, belongs to the room in which you used to sleep, the
centre one to your sister's, and the one next to the main building to Dr.
"Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the middle one."
"Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, there does not seem
to be any very pressing need for repairs at that end wall."
"There were none. I believe that it was an excuse to move me from my room."
"Ah! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this narrow wing runs
the corridor from which these three rooms open. There are windows in it, of
"Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for anyone to pass through."
"As you both locked your doors at night, your rooms were unapproachable
from that side. Now, would you have the kindness to go into your room and bar
Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful examination through the
open window, endeavored in every way to force the shutter open, but without
success. There was no slit through which a knife could be passed to raise the
bar. Then with his lens he tested the hinges, but they were of solid iron, built
firmly into the massive masonry. "Hum!" said he, scratching his chin in some
perplexity, "my theory certainly presents some difficulties. No one could pass
these shutters if they were bolted. Well, we shall see if the inside throws any
light upon the matter."
A small side door led into the whitewashed corridor from which the three
bedrooms opened. Holmes refused to examine the third chamber, so we passed at
once to the second, that in which Miss Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her
sister had met with her fate. It was a homely little room, with a low ceiling
and a gaping fireplace, after the fashion of old country-houses. A brown chest
of drawers stood in one corner, a narrow white-counterpaned bed in another, and
a dressing-table on the left-hand side of the window. These articles, with two
small wicker-work chairs, made up all the furniture in the room save for a
square of Wilton carpet in the centre. The boards round and the panelling of the
walls were of brown, worm-eaten oak, so old and discolored that it may have
dated from the original building of the house. Holmes drew one of the chairs
into a corner and sat silent, while his eyes travelled round and round and up
and down, taking in every detail of the apartment.
"Where does that bell communicate with?" he asked at last pointing to a
thick belt-rope which hung down beside the bed, the tassel actually lying upon
"It goes to the housekeeper's room."
"It looks newer than the other things?"
"Yes, it was only put there a couple of years ago."
"Your sister asked for it, I suppose?"
"No, I never heard of her using it. We used always to get what we wanted
"Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice a bell-pull there. You will
excuse me for a few minutes while I satisfy myself as to this floor." He threw
himself down upon his face with his lens in his hand and crawled swiftly
backward and forward, examining minutely the cracks between the boards. Then he
did the same with the wood-work with which the chamber was panelled. Finally he
walked over to the bed and spent some time in staring at it and in running his
eye up and down the wall. Finally he took the bell-rope in his hand and gave it
a brisk tug.
"Why, it's a dummy," said he.
"Won't it ring?"
"No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is very interesting. You can
see now that it is fastened to a hook just above where the little opening for
the ventilator is."
"How very absurd! I never noticed that before."
"Very strange!" muttered Holmes, pulling at the rope. "There are one or two
very singular points about this room. For example, what a fool a builder must be
to open a ventilator into another room, when, with the same trouble, he might
have communicated with the outside air!"
"That is also quite modern," said the lady.
"Done about the same time as the bell-rope?" remarked Holmes.
"Yes, there were several little changes carried out about that time."
"They seem to have been of a most interesting character--dummy bell-ropes,
and ventilators which do not ventilate. With your permission, Miss Stoner, we
shall now carry our researches into the inner apartment."
Dr. Grimesby Roylott's chamber was larger than that of his step-daughter,
but was as plainly furnished. A camp-bed, a small wooden shelf full of books,
mostly of a technical character an armchair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair
against the wall, a round table, and a large iron safe were the principal things
which met the eye. Holmes walked slowly round and examined each and all of them
with the keenest interest.
"What's in here?" he asked, tapping the safe.
"My stepfather's business papers."
"Oh! you have seen inside, then?"
"Only once, some years ago. I remember that it was full of papers."
"There isn't a cat in it, for example?"
"No. What a strange idea!"
"Well, look at this!" He took up a small saucer of milk which stood on the
top of it.
"No; we don't keep a cat. But there is a cheetah and a baboon."
"Ah, yes, of course! Well, a cheetah is just a big cat, and yet a saucer of
milk does not go very far in satisfying its wants, I daresay. There is one point
which I should wish to determine." He squatted down in front of the wooden chair
and examined the seat of it with the greatest attention.
"Thank you. That is quite settled," said he, rising and putting his lens in
his pocket. "Hello! Here is something interesting!"
The object which had caught his eye was a small dog lash hung on one corner
of the bed. The lash, however, was curled upon itself and tied so as to make a
loop of whipcord.
"What do you make of that, Watson?"
"It's a common enough lash. But I don't know why if should be tied."
"That is not quite so common, is it? Ah, me! it's a wicked world, and when
a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the worst of all. I think that I
have seen enough now, Miss Stoner, and with your permission we shall walk out
upon the lawn."
I had never seen my friend's face so grim or his brow so dark as it was
when we turned from the scene of this investigation. We had walked several times
up and down the lawn, neither Miss Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon his
thoughts before he roused himself from his reverie.
"It is very essential, Miss Stoner," said he, "that you should absolutely
follow my advice in every respect."
"I shall most certainly do so."
"The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life may depend upon
"I assure you that I am in your hands."
"In the first place, both my friend and I must spend the night in your
Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in astonishment.
"Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe that that is the village inn
"Yes, that is the Crown."
"Very good. Your windows would be visible from there?"
"You must confine yourself to your room, on pretence of a headache, when