The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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game. It was very long, though -- almost as long, Watson, as
when you and I waited in that deadly room when we looked
into the little problem of the Speckled Band. There was a
church-clock down at Woking which struck the quarters, and I
thought more than once that it had stopped. At last, however,
about two in the morning, I suddenly heard the gentle sound of a
bolt being pushed back and the creaking of a key. A moment
later the servants door was opened, and Mr. Joseph Harrison
stepped out into the moonlight."
"Joseph!" ejaculated Phelps.
"He was bare-headed, but he had a black cloak thrown over
his shoulder, so that he could conceal his face in an instant if
there were any alarm. He walked on tiptoe under the shadow of
the wall, and when he reached the window he worked a long-
bladed knife through the sash and pushed back the catch. Then
he flung open the window, and putting his knife through the
crack in the shutters, he thrust the bar up and swung them open.
"From where I lay I had a perfect view of the inside of the
room and of every one of his movements. He lit the two candles
which stood upon the mantelpiece, and then he proceeded to turn
back the corner of the carpet in the neighbourhood of the door.
Presently he stooped and picked out a square piece of board,
such as is usually left to enable plumbers to get at the joints of
the gas-pipes. This one covered, as a matter of fact, the T joint
which gives off the pipe which supplies the kitchen underneath.
Out of this hiding-place he drew that little cylinder of paper,
pushed down the board, rearranged the carpet, blew out the
candles, and walked straight into my arms as I stood waiting for
him outside the window.
"Well, he has rather more viciousness than I gave him credit
for, has Master Joseph. He flew at me with his knife, and I had
to grasp him twice, and got a cut over the knuckles, before I had
the upper hand of him. He looked murder out of the only eye he
could see with when we had finished, but he listened to reason
and gave up the papers. Having got them I let my man go, but I
wired full particulars to Forbes this morning. If he is quick
enough to catch his bird, well and good. But if, as I shrewdly
suspect, he finds the nest empty before he gets there, why, all
the better for the government. I fancy that Lord Holdhurst, for
one, and Mr. Percy Phelps for another, would very much rather
that the affair never got as far as a police-court."
"My God!" gasped our client. "Do you tell me that during
these long ten weeks of agony the stolen papers were within the
very room with me all the time?"
"So it was."
"And Joseph! Joseph a villain and a thief!"
"Hum! I am afraid Joseph's character is a rather deeper and
more dangerous one than one might judge from his appearance.
From what I have heard from him this morning, I gather that he
has lost heavily in dabbling with stocks, and that he is ready to
do anything on earth to better his fortunes. Being an absolutely
selfish man, when a chance presents itself he did not allow either
his sister's happiness or your reputation to hold his hand."
Percy Phelps sank back in his chair. "My head whirls," said
he. "Your words have dazed me."
"The principal difficulty in your case," remarked Holmes in
his didactic fashion, "lay in the fact of there being too much
evidence. What was vital was overlaid and hidden by what was
irrelevant. Of all the facts which were presented to us we had to
pick just those which we deemed to be essential, and then piece
them together in their order, so as to reconstruct this very
remarkable chain of events. I had already begun to suspect
Joseph from the fact that you had intended to travel home with
him that night, and that therefore it was a likely enough thing
that he should call for you, knowing the Foreign Office well,
upon his way. When I heard that someone had been so anxious
to get into the bedroom, in which no one but Joseph could have
concealed anything -- you told us in your narrative how you had
turned Joseph out when you arrived with the doctor -- my suspi-
cions all changed to certainties, especially as the attempt was
made on the first night upon which the nurse was absent, show-
ing that the intruder was well acquainted with the ways of the
"How blind I have been!"
"The facts of the case, as far as I have worked them out, are
these: This Joseph Harrison entered the office through the Charles
Street door, and knowing his way he walked straight into your
room the instant after you left it. Finding no one there he
promptly rang the bell, and at the instant that he did so his eyes
caught the paper upon the table. A glance showed him that
chance had put in his way a State document of immense value,
and in an instant he had thrust it into his pocket and was gone. A
few minutes elapsed, as you remember, before the sleepy com-
missionaire drew your attention to the bell, and those were just
enough to give the thief time to make his escape.
"He made his way to Woking by the first train, and, having
examined his booty and assured himself that it really was of
immense value, he had concealed it in what he thought was a
very safe place, with the intention of taking it out again in a day
or two, and carrying it to the French embassy, or wherever he
thought that a long price was to be had. Then came your sudden
return. He, without a moment's warning, was bundled out of his
room, and from that time onward there were always at least two
of you there to prevent him from regaining his treasure. The
situation to him must have been a maddening one. But at last he
thought he saw his chance. He tried to steal in, but was baffled
by your wakefulness. You may remember that you did not take
your usual draught that night."
"I fancy that he had taken steps to make that draught effica-
cious, and that he quite relied upon your being unconscious. Of
course, I understood that he would repeat the attempt whenever
it could be done with safety. Your leaving the room gave him the
chance he wanted. I kept Miss Harrison in it all day so that he
might not anticipate us. Then, having given him the idea that the
coast was clear, I kept guard as I have described. I already knew
that the papers were probably in the room, but I had no desire to
rip up all the planking and skirting in search of them. I let him
take them, therefore, from the hiding-place, and so saved myself
an infinity of trouble. Is there any other point which I can make
"Why did he try the window on the first occasion," I asked,
"when he might have entered by the door?"
"In reaching the door he would have to pass seven bedrooms.
On the other hand, he could get out on to the lawn, with ease,
"You do not think," asked Phelps, "that he had any murder-
ous intention? The knife was only meant as a tool."
"li may be so," answered Holmes, shrugging his shoulders.
"I can only say for certain that Mr. Joseph Harrison is a gentle-
man to whose mercy I should be extremely unwilling to trust."
The Final Problem
It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the
last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by
which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished. In an
incoherent and. as I deeply feel, an entirely inadequate fashion, I
have endeavoured to give some account of my strange experiences
in his company from the chance which first brought us together
at the period of the "Study in Scarlet," up to the time of his
interference in the matter of the "Naval Treaty" -- an interfer-
ence which had the unquestionable effect of preventing a serious
international complication. It was my intention to have stopped
there, and to have said nothing of that event which has created a
void in my life which the lapse of two years has done little to
fill. My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in
which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother,
and I have no choice but to lay the facts before the public exactly
as they occurred. I alone know the absolute truth of the matter,
and I am satisfied that the time has come when no good purpose
is to be served by its suppression. As far as I know, there have
been only three accounts in the public press: that in the Journal
de Geneve on May 6th, 1891, the Reuter's dispatch in the
English papers on May 7th, and finally the recent letters to
which I have alluded. Of these the first and second were ex-
tremely condensed, while the last is, as I shall now show, an
absolute perversion of the facts. It lies with me to tell for the first
time what really took place between Professor Moriarty and Mr.
It may be remembered that after my marriage, and my subse-
quent start in private practice, the very intimate relations which
had existed between Holmes and myself became to some extent
modified. He still came to me from time to time when he desired
a companion in his investigations, but these occasions grew more
and more seldom, until I find that in the year 1890 there were
only three cases of which I retain any record. During the winter
of that year and the early spring of 1891, I saw in the papers that
he had been engaged by the French government upon a matter of
supreme importance, and I received two notes from Holmes,
dated from Narbonne and from Nimes, from which I gathered
that his stay in France was likely to be a long one. It was with
some surprise, therefore, that I saw him walk into my consulting-
room upon the evening of April 24th. It struck me that he was
looking even paler and thinner than usual.
"Yes, I have been using myself up rather too freely," he
remarked, in answer to my look rather than to my words; "I
have been a little pressed of late. Have you any objection to my
closing your shutters?"
The only light in the room came from the lamp upon the table
at which I had been reading. Holmes edged his way round the
wall, and, flinging the shutters together, he bolted them securely.
"You are afraid of something?" I asked.
"Well, I am."