The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
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still I have a hundred a year in my own right, besides the little that I make by
the machine, and I would give it all to know what has become of Mr. Hosmer
"Why did you come away to consult me in such a hurry?" asked Sherlock
Holmes, with his finger-tips together and his eyes to the ceiling.
Again a startled look came over the somewhat vacuous face of Miss Mary
Sutherland. "Yes, I did bang out of the house," she said, "for it made me angry
to see the easy way in which Mr. Windibank--that is, my father--took it all. He
would not go to the police, and he would not go to you, and so at last, as he
would do nothing and kept on saying that there was no harm done, it made me mad,
and I just on with my things and came right away to you."
"Your father," said Holmes, "your stepfather, surely, since the name is
"Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though it sounds funny, too, for he
is only five years and two months older than myself."
"And your mother is alive?"
"Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn't best pleased, Mr. Holmes, when
she married again so soon after father's death, and a man who was nearly fifteen
years younger than herself. Father was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road,
and he left a tidy business behind him, which mother carried on with Mr. Hardy,
the foreman; but when Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the business, for he
was very superior, being a traveller in wines. They got 4700 pounds for the
goodwill and interest, which wasn't near as much as father could have got if he
had been alive."
I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impatient under this rambling and
inconsequential narrative, but, on the contrary he had listened with the
greatest concentration of attention.
"Your own little income," he asked, "does it come out of the business?"
"Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left me by my uncle Ned in
Auckland. It is in New Zealand stock, paying 4 1/2 per cent. Two thousand five
hundred pounds was the amount, but I can only touch the interest."
"You interest me extremely," said Holmes. "And since you draw so large a
sum as a hundred a year, with what you earn into the bargain, you no doubt
travel a little and indulge yourself in every way. I believe that a single lady
can get on very nicely upon an income of about 60 pounds."
"I could do with much less than that, Mr. Holmes, but you understand that
as long as I live at home I don't wish to be a burden to them, and so they have
the use of the money just while I am staying with them. Of course, that is only
just for the time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every quarter and pays it
over to mother, and I find that I can do pretty well with what I earn at
typewriting. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do from fifteen to
twenty sheets in a-day."
"You have made your position very clear to me," said Holmes. "This is my
friend, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself. Kindly
tell us now all about your connection with Mr. Hosmer Angel."
A flush stole over Miss Sutherland's face, and she picked nervously at the
fringe of her jacket. "I met him first at the gasfitters' ball," she said. "They
used to send father tickets when he was alive, and then afterwards they
remembered us, and sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us to go. He
never did wish us to go anywhere. He would get quite mad if I wanted so much as
to join a Sunday-school treat. But this time I was set on going, and I would go;
for what right had he to prevent? He said the folk were not fit for us to know,
when all father's friends were to be there. And he said that I had nothing fit
to wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never so much as taken out of the
drawer. At last, when nothing else would do, he went off to France upon the
business of the firm, but we went, mother and I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be
our foreman, and it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel."
"I suppose," said Holmes, "that when Mr. Windibank came back from France he
was very annoyed at your having gone to the ball."
"Oh, well, he was very good about it. He laughed, I remember, and shrugged
his shoulders, and said there was no use denying anything to a woman, for she
would have her way."
"I see. Then at the gasfitters' ball you met, as I understand, a gentleman
called Mr. Hosmer Angel."
"Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called next day to ask if we had
got home all safe, and after that we met him--that is to say, Mr. Holmes, I met
him twice for walks, but after that father came back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel
could not come to the house any more."
"Well, you know father didn't like anything of the sort. He wouldn't have
any visitors if he could help it, and he used to say that a woman should be
happy in her own family circle. But then, as I used to say to mother, a woman
wants her own circle to begin with, and I had not got mine yet."
"But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he make no attempt to see you?"
"Well, father was going off to France again in a week, and Hosmer wrote and
said that it would be safer and better not to see each other until he had gone.
We could write in the meantime, and he used to write every day. I took the
letters in in the morning, so there was no need for father to know."
"Were you engaged to the gentleman at this time?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged after the first walk that we took.
Hosmer--Mr. Angel--was a cashier in an office in Leadenhall Street--and--"
"That's the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don't know."
"Where did he live, then?"
"He slept on the premises."
"And you don't know his address?"
"No--except that it was Leadenhall Street."
"Where did you address your letters, then?"
"To the Leadenhall Street Post-Office, to be left till called for. He said
that if they were sent to the office he would be chaffed by all the other clerks
about having letters from a lady, so I offered to typewrite them, like he did
his, but he wouldn't have that, for he said that when I wrote them they seemed
to come from me, but when they were typewritten he always felt that the machine
had come between us. That will just show you how fond he was of me, Mr. Holmes,
and the little things that he would think of."
"It was most suggestive," said Holmes. "It has long been an axiom of mine
that the little things are infinitely the most important. Can you remember any
other little things about Mr. Hosmer Angel?"
"He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would rather walk with me in the
evening than in the daylight, for he said that he hated to be conspicuous. Very
retiring and gentlemanly he was. Even his voice was gentle. He'd had the quinsy
and swollen glands when he was young, he told me, and it had left him with a
weak throat, and a hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He was always well
dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes were weak, just as mine are, and he
wore tinted glasses against the glare."
"Well, and what happened when Mr. Windibank, your stepfather, returned to
"Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again and proposed that we should marry
before father came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made me swear, with my
hands on the Testament, that whatever happened I would always be true to him.
Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, and that it was a sign of his
passion. Mother was all in his favor from the first and was even fonder of him
than I was. Then, when they talked of marrying within the week, I began to ask
about father; but they both said never to mind about father, but just to tell
him afterwards, and mother said she would make it all right with him. I didn't
quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that I should ask his leave, as he
was only a few years older than me; but I didn't want to do anything on the sly,
so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the company has its French offices, but
the letter came back to me on the very morning of the wedding."
"It missed him, then?"
"Yes, sir; for he had started to England just before it arrived."
"Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was arranged, then, for the Friday.
Was it to be in church?"
"Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. Saviour's, near King's
Cross, and we were to have breakfast afterwards at the St. Pancras Hotel. Hosmer
came for us in a hansom, but as there were two of us he put us both into it and
stepped himself into a four-wheeler, which happened to be the only other cab in
the street. We got to the church first, and when the four-wheeler drove up we
waited for him to step out, but he never did, and when the cabman got down from
the box and looked there was no one there! The cabman said that he could not
imagine what had become of him, for he had seen him get in with his own eyes.
That was last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen or heard anything since
then to throw any light upon what became of him."
"It seems to me that you have been very shamefully treated," said Holmes.
"Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to leave me so. Why, all the morning
he was saying to me that, whatever happened, I was to be true; and that even if
something quite unforeseen occurred to separate us, I was always to remember
that I was pledged to him, and that he would claim his pledge sooner or later.
It seemed strange talk for a wedding-morning, but what has happened since gives
a meaning to it."
"Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, then, that some unforeseen
catastrophe has occurred to him?"
"Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some danger, or else he would not have
talked so. And then I think that what he foresaw happened."
"But you have no notion as to what it could have been?"
"One more question. How did your mother take the matter?"
"She was angry, and said that I was never to speak of the matter again."
"And your father? Did you tell him?"
"Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that something had happened, and
that I should hear of Hosmer again. As he said, what interest could anyone have
in bringing me to the doors of the church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had
borrowed my money, or if he had married me and got my money settled on him,
there might be some reason, but Hosmer was very independent about money and
never would look at a shilling of mine. And yet, what could have happened? And
why could he not write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to think of it, and I can't
sleep a wink at night." She pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff and
began to sob heavily into it.
"I shall glance into the case for you," said Holmes, rising, "and I have no
doubt that we shall reach some definite result. Let the weight of the matter
rest upon me now, and do not let your mind dwell upon it further. Above all, try
to let Mr. Hosmer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has done from your life."
"Then you don't think I'll see him again?"
"I fear not."
"Then what has happened to him?"
"You will leave that question in my hands. I should like an accurate
description of him and any letters of his which you can spare."
"I advertised for him in last Saturday's Chronicle," said she. "Here is the
slip and here are four letters from him."
"Thank you. And your address?"
"No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell."
"Mr. Angel's address you never had, I understand. Where is your father's
place of business?"
"He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great claret importers of
"Thank you. You have made your statement very clearly. You will leave the
papers here, and remember the advice which I have given you. Let the whole
incident be a sealed book, and do not allow it to affect your life."
"You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot do that. I shall be true to
Hosmer. He shall find me ready when he comes back."
For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous face, there was something
noble in the simple faith of our visitor which compelled our respect. She laid
her little bundle of papers upon the table and went her way, with a promise to
come again whenever she might be summoned.
Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes with his fingertips still
pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed
upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from the rack the old and oily clay
pipe, which was to him as a counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in
his chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of
infinite languor in his face.
"Quite an interesting study, that maiden," he observed. "I found her more
interesting than her little problem, which, by the way, is rather a trite one.
You will find parallel cases, if you consult my index, in Andover in '77, and
there was something of the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the idea,
however, there were one or two details which were new to me. But the maiden
herself was most instructive."
"You appeared to read a good deal upon her which was quite invisible to
me," I remarked.
"Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did not know where to look, and
so you missed all that was important. I can never bring you to realize the