The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
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"She walked into the breakfast-room."
"On your arm?"
"No, alone. She was very independent in little matters like that. Then,
after we had sat down for ten minutes or so, she rose hurriedly, muttered some
words of apology, and left the room. She never came back."
"But this maid, Alice, as I understand, deposes that she went to her room,
covered her bride's dress with a long ulster, put on a bonnet, and went out."
"Quite so. And she was afterwards seen walking into Hyde Park in company
with Flora Millar, a woman who is now in custody, and who had already made a
disturbance at Mr. Doran's house that morning."
"Ah, yes. I should like a few particulars as to this young lady, and your
relations to her."
Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows. "We have
been on a friendly footing for some years--I may say on a very friendly footing.
She used to be at the Allegro. I have not treated her ungenerously, and she had
no just cause of complaint against me, but you know what women are, Mr. Holmes.
Flora was a dear little thing, but exceedingly hot-headed and devotedly attached
to me. She wrote me dreadful letters when she heard that I was about to be
married, and, to tell the truth, the reason why I had the marriage celebrated so
quietly was that I feared lest there might be a scandal in the church. She came
to Mr. Doran's door just after we returned, and she endeavored to push her way
in, uttering very abusive expressions towards my wife, and even threatening her,
but I had foreseen the possibility of something of the sort, and I had two
police fellows there in private clothes, who soon pushed her out again. She was
quiet when she saw that there was no good in making a row."
"Did your wife hear all this?"
"No, thank goodness, she did not."
"And she was seen walking with this very woman afterwards?"
"Yes. That is what Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, looks upon as so
serious. It is thought that Flora decoyed my wife out and laid some terrible
trap for her."
"Well, it is a possible supposition."
"You think so, too?"
"I did not say a probable one. But you do not yourself look upon this as
"I do not think Flora would hurt a fly."
"Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of characters. Pray what is your
own theory as to what took place?"
"Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to propound one. I have given
you all the facts. Since you ask me, however, I may say that it has occurred to
me as possible that the excitement of this affair, the consciousness that she
had made so immense a social stride, had the effect of causing some little
nervous disturbance in my wife."
"In short, that she had become suddenly deranged?"
"Well, really, when I consider that she has turned her back--I will not say
upon me, but upon so much that many have aspired to without success--I can
hardly explain it in any other fashion."
"Well, certainly that is also a conceivable hypothesis," said Holmes,
smiling. "And now, Lord St. Simon, I think that I have nearly all my data. May I
ask whether you were seated at the breakfast-table so that you could see out of
"We could see the other side of the road and the Park."
"Quite so. Then I do not think that I need to detain you longer. I shall
communicate with you."
"Should you be fortunate enough to solve this problem," said our client,
"I have solved it."
"Eh? What was that?"
"I say that I have solved it."
"Where, then, is my wife?"
"That is a detail which I shall speedily supply."
Lord St. Simon shook his head. "I am afraid that it will take wiser heads
than yours or mine," he remarked, and bowing in a stately, old-fashioned manner
"It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honor my head by putting it on a
level with his own," said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. "I think that I shall have
a whisky and soda and a cigar after all this cross-questioning. I had formed my
conclusions as to the case before our client came into the room."
"My dear Holmes!"
"I have notes of several similar cases, though none, as I remarked before,
which were quite as prompt. My whole examination served to turn my conjecture
into a certainty. Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as
when you find a trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's example."
"But I have heard all that you have heard."
"Without, however, the knowledge of pre-existing cases which serves me so
well. There was a parallel instance in Aberdeen some years back, and something
on very much the same lines at Munich the year after the Franco-Prussian War. It
is one of these cases--but, hello, here is Lestrade! Good-afternoon, Lestrade!
You will find an extra tumbler upon the sideboard,and there are cigars in the
The official detective was attired in a pea-jacket and cravat, which gave
him a decidedly nautical appearance, and he carried a black canvas bag in his
hand. With a short greeting he seated himself and lit the cigar which had been
offered to him.
"What's up, then?" asked Holmes with a twinkle in his eye. "You look
"And I feel dissatisfied. It is this infernal St. Simon marriage case. I
can make neither head nor tail of the business."
"Really! You surprise me."
"Who ever heard of such a mixed affair? Every clew seems to slip through my
fingers. I have been at work upon it all day."
"And very wet it seems to have made you," said Holmes laying his hand upon
the arm of the pea-jacket.
"Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine."
"In heaven's name, what for?"
"In search of the body of Lady St. Simon."
Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.
"Have you dragged the basin of Trafalgar Square fountain?" he asked.
"Why? What do you mean?"
"Because you have just as good a chance of finding this lady in the one as
in the other."
Lestrade shot an angry glance at my companion. "I suppose you know all
about it," he snarled.
"Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my mind is made up."
"Oh, indeed! Then you think that the Serpentine plays no part in the
"I think it very unlikely."
"Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it is that we found this in it?"
He opened his bag as he spoke, and tumbled onto the floor a wedding-dress of
watered silk, a pair of white satin shoes and a bride's wreath and veil, all
discolored and soaked in water. "There," said he, putting a new wedding-ring
upon the top of the pile. "There is a little nut for you to crack, Master
"Oh, indeed!" said my friend, blowing blue rings into the air. "You dragged
them from the Serpentine?"
"No. They were found floating near the margin by a park-keeper. They have
been identified as her clothes, and it seemed to me that if the clothes were
there the body would not be far off."
"By the same brilliant reasoning, every man's body is to be found in the
neighborhood of his wardrobe. And pray what did you hope to arrive at through
"At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in the disappearance."
"I am afraid that you will find it difficult."
"Are you, indeed, now?" cried Lestrade with some bitterness. "I am afraid,
Holmes, that you are not very practical with your deductions and your
inferences. You have made two blunders in as many minutes. This dress does
implicate Miss Flora Millar."
"In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In the card-case
is a note. And here is the very note." He slapped it down upon the table in
front of him. "Listen to this: 'You will see me when all is ready. Come at once.
F.H.M.' Now my theory all along has been that Lady St. Simon was decoyed away by
Flora Millar, and that she, with confederates, no doubt, was responsible for her
disappearance. Here, signed with her initials, is the very note which was no
doubt quietly slipped into her hand at the door and which lured her within their
"Very good, Lestrade," said Holmes, laughing. "You really are very fine
indeed. Let me see it." He took up the paper in a listless way, but his
attention instantly became riveted, and he gave a little cry of satisfaction.
"This is indeed important," said he.
"Ha! you find it so?"
"Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly."
Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head to look. "Why," he shrieked,
"you're looking at the wrong side!"
"On the contrary, this is the right side."
"The right side? You're mad! Here is the note written in pencil over here."
"And over here is what appears to be the fragment of a hotel bill, which
interests me deeply."
"There's nothing in it. I looked at it before," said Lestrade. "'Oct. 4th,
rooms 8s., breakfast 2s. 6d., cocktail 1s., lunch 2s. 6d., glass sherry, 8d.' I
see nothing in that."
"Very likely not. It is most important, all the same. As to the note, it is
important also, or at least the initials are, so I congratulate you again."
"I've wasted time enough," said Lestrade, rising. "I believe in hard work
and not in sitting by the fire spinning fine theories. Good-day, Mr. Holmes, and
we shall see which gets to the bottom of the matter first." He gathered up the
garments, thrust them into the bag, and made for the door.
"Just one hint to you, Lestrade," drawled Holmes before his rival vanished;
"I will tell you the true solution of the matter. Lady St. Simon is a myth.
There is not, and there never has been, any such person."
Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then he turned to me, tapped his
forehead three times, shook his head solemnly, and hurried away.
He had hardly shut the door behind him when Holmes rose to put on his
overcoat. "There is something in what the fellow says about outdoor work," he
remarked, "so I think, Watson, that I must leave you to your papers for a
It was after five o'clock when Sherlock Holmes left me, but I had no time
to be lonely, for within an hour there arrived a confectioner's man with a very
large flat box. This he unpacked with the help of a youth whom he had brought
with him, and presently, to my very great astonishment, a quite epicurean little
cold supper began to be laid out upon our humble lodging-house mahogany. There
were a couple of brace of cold woodcock, a pheasant, a pate de foie gras pie
with a group of ancient and cobwebby bottles. Having laid out all these
luxuries, my two visitors vanished away, like the genii of the Arabian Nights,
with no explanation save that the things had been paid for and were ordered to
Just before nine o'clock Sherlock Holmes stepped briskly into the room. His
features were gravely set, but there was a light in his eye which made me think
that he had not been disappointed in his conclusions.
"They have laid the supper, then," he said, rubbing his hands.
"You seem to expect company. They have laid for five."
"Yes, I fancy we may have some company dropping in," said he. "I am
surprised that Lord St. Simon has not already arrived. Ha! I fancy that I hear
his step now upon the stairs."
It was indeed our visitor of the afternoon who came bustling in, dangling
his glasses more vigorously than ever, and with a very perturbed expression upon
his aristocratic features.
"My messenger reached you, then?" asked Holmes.
"Yes, and I confess that the contents startled me beyond measure. Have you
good authority for what you say?"
"The best possible."
Lord St. Simon sank into a chair and passed his hand over his forehead.
"What will the Duke say," he murmured, "when he hears that one of the
family has been subjected to such humiliation?"
"It is the purest accident. I cannot allow that there is any humiliation. "
"Ah, you look on these things from another standpoint."
"I fail to see that anyone is to blame. I can hardly see how the lady could
have acted otherwise, though her abrupt method of doing it was undoubtedly to be
regretted. Having no mother, she had no one to advise her at such a crisis."
"It was a slight, sir, a public slight," said Lord St. Simon, tapping his