The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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fence, but now he sprang briskly to his feet and walked towards
"I have a few questions to ask Miss Cushing," said he.
"In that case I may leave you here," said Lestrade, "for I
have another small business on hand. I think that I have nothing
further to learn from Miss Cushing. You will find me at the
"We shall look in on our way to the train," answered Holmes.
A moment later he and I were back in the front room, where the
impassive lady was still quietly working away at her antimacas-
sar. She put it down on her lap as we entered and looked at us
with her frank, searching blue eyes.
"I am convinced, sir," she said, "that this matter is a mis-
take, and that the parcel was never meant for me at all. I have
said this several times to the gentleman from Scotland Yard, but
he simply laughs at me. I have not an enemy in the world, as far
as I know, so why should anyone play me such a trick?"
"I am coming to be of the same opinion, Miss Cushing," said
Holmes, taking a seat beside her. "I think that it is more than
probable " he paused, and I was surprised, on glancing round
to see that he was staring with singular intentness at the lady's
profile. Surprise and satisfaction were both for an instant to be
read upon his eager face, though when she glanced round to find
out the cause of his silence he had become as demure as ever. I
stared hard myself at her flat, grizzled hair, her trim cap, her
little gilt earrings, her placid features; but I could see nothing
which could account for my companion's evident excitement.
"There were one or two questions --"
"Oh, I am weary of questions!" cried Miss Cushing impatiently.
"You have two sisters, I believe."
"How could you know that?"
"I observed the very instant that I entered the room that you
have a portrait group of three ladies upon the mantelpiece, one of
whom is undoubtedly yourself, while the others are so exceed-
ingly like you that there could be no doubt of the relationship."
"Yes, you are quite right. Those are my sisters, Sarah and
"And here at my elbow is another portrait, taken at Liverpool,
of your younger sister, in the company of a man who appears to
be a steward by his uniform. I observe that she was unmarried at
"You are very quick at observing."
"That is my trade."
"Well, you are quite right. But she was married to Mr.
Browner a few days afterwards. He was on the South American
line when that was taken, but he was so fond of her that he
couldn't abide to leave her for so long, and he got into the
Liverpool and London boats."
"Ah, the Conqueror, perhaps?"
"No, the May Day, when last I heard. Jim came down here to
see me once. That was before he broke the pledge; but after-
wards he would always take drink when he was ashore, and a
little drink would send him stark, staring mad. Ah! it was a bad
day that ever he took a glass in his hand again. First he dropped
me, then he quarrelled with Sarah, and now that Mary has
stopped writing we don't know how things are going with them."
It was evident that Miss Cushing had come upon a subject on
which she felt very deeply. Like most people who lead a lonely
life, she was shy at first, but ended by becoming extremely
communicative. She told us many details about her brother-in-law
the steward, and then wandering off on the subject of her former
lodgers, the medical students, she gave us a long account of their
delinquencies, with their names and those of their hospitals.
Holmes listened attentively to everything, throwing in a question
from time to time.
"About your second sister, Sarah," said he. "I wonder, since
you are both maiden ladies, that you do not keep house together."
"Ah! you don't know Sarah's temper or you would wonder no
more. I tried it when I came to Croydon, and we kept on until
about two months ago, when we had to part. I don't want to say
a word against my own sister, but she was always meddlesome
and hard to please, was Sarah."
"You say that she quarrelled with your Liverpool relations."
"Yes, and they were the best of friends at one time. Why, she
went up there to live in order to be near them. And now she has
no word hard enough for Jim Browner. The last six months that
she was here she would speak of nothing but his drinking and his
ways. He had caught her meddling, I suspect, and given her a bit
of his mind, and that was the start of it."
"Thank you, Miss Cushing," said Holmes, rising and bow-
ing. "Your sister Sarah lives, I think you said, at New Street
Wallington? Good-bye, and I am very sorry that you should have
been troubled over a case with which, as you say, you have
nothing whatever to do."
There was a cab passing as we came out, and Holmes hailed
"How far to Wallington?" he asked.
"Only about a mile, sir."
"Very good. Jump in, Watson. We must strike while the iron
is hot. Simple as the case is, there have been one or two very
instructive details in connection with it. Just pull up at a tele-
graph office as you pass, cabby."
Holmes sent off a short wire and for the rest of the drive lay
back in the cab, with his hat tilted over his nose to keep the sun
from his face. Our driver pulled up at a house which was not
unlike the one which we had just quitted. My companion ordered
him to wait, and had his hand upon the knocker, when the door
opened and a grave young gentleman in black, with a very shiny
hat, appeared on the step.
"Is Miss Cushing at home?" asked Holmes.
"Miss Sarah Cushing is extremely ill," said he. "She has
been suffering since yesterday from brain symptoms of great
severity. As her medical adviser, I cannot possibly take the
responsibility of allowing anyone to see her. I should recom-
mend you to call again in ten days." He drew on his gloves,
closed the door, and marched off down the street.
"Well, if we can't we can't," said Holmes, cheerfully.
"Perhaps she could not or would not have told you much."
"I did not wish her to tell me anything. I only wanted to look
at her. However, I think that I have got all that I want. Drive us
to some decent hotel, cabby, where we may have some lunch,
and afterwards we shall drop down upon friend Lestrade at the
We had a pleasant little meal together, during which Holmes
would talk about nothing but violins, narrating with great exulta-
tion how he had purchased his own Stradivarius, which was
worth at least five hundred guineas, at a Jew broker's in Tottenham
Court Road for fifty-five shillings. This led him to Paganini, and
we sat for an hour over a bottle of claret while he told me
anecdote after anecdote of that extraordinary man. The afternoon
was far advanced and the hot glare had softened into a mellow
glow before we found ourselves at the police-station. Lestrade was
waiting for us at the door.
"A telegram for you, Mr. Holmes," said he.
"Ha! It is the answer!" He tore it open, glanced his eyes over
it, and crumpled it into his pocket. "That's all right," said he.
"Have you found out anything?"
"I have found out everything!"
"What!" Lestrade stared at him in amazement. "You are
"I was never more serious in my life. A shocking crime has
been committed, and I think I have now laid bare every detail of
"And the criminal?"
Holmes scribbled a few words upon the back of one of his
visiting cards and threw it over to Lestrade.
"That is the name," he said. "You cannot effect an arrest
until to-morrow night at the earliest. I should prefer that you do
not mention my name at all in connection with the case, as I
choose to be only associated with those crimes which present
some difficulty in their solution. Come on, Watson." We strode
off together to the station, leaving Lestrade still staring with a
delighted face at the card which Holmes had thrown him.
"The case," said Sherlock Holmes as we chatted over our
cigars that night in our rooms at Baker Street, "is one where, as
in the investigations which you have chronicled under the names
of 'A Study in Scarlet' and of 'The Sign of Four,' we have been
compelled to reason backward from effects to causes. I have
written to Lestrade asking him to supply us with the details
which are now wanting, and which he will only get after he has
secured his man. That he may be safely trusted to do, for
although he is absolutely devoid of reason, he is as tenacious as
a bulldog when he once understands what he has to do, and,
indeed, it is just this tenacity which has brought him to the top at