The Return of Sherlock Holmes
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vigorous arm. The lad, then, had a companion in his flight. And
the flight was a swift one, since it took five miles before an
expert cyclist could overtake them. Yet we survey the ground
round the scene of the tragedy. What do we find? A few cattle-
tracks, nothing more. I took a wide sweep round, and there is no
path within fifty yards. Another cyclist could have had nothing
to do with the actual murder, nor were there any human
"Holmes," I cried, "this is impossible."
"Admirable!" he said. "A most illuminating remark. It is
impossible as I state it, and therefore I must in some respect have
stated it wrong. Yet you saw for yourself. Can you suggest any
"He could not have fractured his skull in a fall?"
"In a morass, Watson?"
"I am at my wit's end."
"Tut, tut, we have solved some worse problems. At least we
have plenty of material, if we can only use it. Come, then, and,
having exhausted the Palmer, let us see what the Dunlop with the
patched cover has to offer us."
We picked up the track and followed it onward for some
distance, but soon the moor rose into a long, heather-tufted
curve, and we left the watercourse behind us. No further help
from tracks could be hoped for. At the spot where we saw the
last of the Dunlop tyre it might equally have led to Holdernesse
Hall, the stately towers of which rose some miles to our left, or
to a low, gray village which lay in front of us and marked the
position of the Chesterfield high road.
As we approached the forbidding and squalid inn, with the
sign of a game-cock above the door, Holmes gave a sudden
groan, and clutched me by the shoulder to save himself from
falling. He had had one of those violent strains of the ankle
which leave a man helpless. With difficulty he limped up to the
door, where a squat, dark, elderly man was smoking a black clay
"How are you, Mr. Reuben Hayes?" said Holmes.
"Who are you, and how do you get my name so pat?" the
countryman answered, with a suspicious flash of a pair of cun-
"Well, it's printed on the board above your head. It's easy to
see a man who is master of his own house. I suppose you
haven't such a thing as a carriage in your stables?"
"No, I have not."
"I can hardly put my foot to the ground."
"Don't put it to the ground."
"But I can't walk."
"Well, then, hop."
Mr. Reuben Hayes's manner was far from gracious, but Holmes
took it with admirable good-humour.
"Look here, my man," said he. "This is really rather an
awkward fix for me. I don't mind how I get on."
"Neither do I," said the morose landlord.
"The matter is very important. I would offer you a sovereign
for the use of a bicycle."
The landlord pricked up his ears.
"Where do you want to go?"
"To Holdernesse Hall."
"Pals of the Dook, I suppose?" said the landlord, surveying
our mud-stained garments with ironical eyes.
Holmes laughed good-naturedly.
"He'll be glad to see us, anyhow."
"Because we bring him news of his lost son."
The landlord gave a very visible start.
"What, you're on his track?"
"He has been heard of in Liverpool. They expect to get him
Again a swift change passed over the heavy, unshaven face.
His manner was suddenly genial.
"I've less reason to wish the Dook well than most men,"
said he, "for I was his head coachman once, and cruel bad he
treated me. It was him that sacked me without a character on the
word of a lying corn-chandler. But I'm glad to hear that the
young lord was heard of in Liverpool, and I'll help you to take
the news to the Hall."
"Thank you," said Holmes. "We'll have some food first.
Then you can bring round the bicycle."
"I haven't got a bicycle."
Holmes held up a sovereign.
"I tell you, man, that I haven't got one. I'll let you have two
horses as far as the Hall."
"Well, well," said Holmes, "we'll talk about it when we've
had something to eat."
When we were left alone in the stone-flagged kitchen, it was
astonishing how rapidly that sprained ankle recovered. It was
nearly nightfall, and we had eaten nothing since early morning,
so that we spent some time over our meal. Holmes was lost in
thought, and once or twice he walked over to the window and
stared earnestly out. It opened on to a squalid courtyard. In the
far corner was a smithy, where a grimy lad was at work. On the
other side were the stables. Holmes had sat down again after one
of these excursions, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair
with a loud exclamation.
"By heaven, Watson, I believe that I've got it!" he cried.
"Yes, yes, it must be so. Watson, do you remember seeing any
"Well, everywhere. They were at the morass, and again on
the path, and again near where poor Heidegger met his death."
"Exactly. Well, now, Watson, how many cows did you see
on the moor?"
"I don't remember seeing any."
"Strange, Watson, that we should see tracks all along our
line, but never a cow on the whole moor. Very strange, Watson,
"Yes, it is strange."
"Now, Watson, make an effort, throw your mind back. Can
you see those tracks upon the path?"
"Yes, I can."
"Can you recall that the tracks were sometimes like that,
Watson" -- he arranged a number of bread-crumbs in this fashion -- :
: : : : -- "and sometimes like this" -- : . : . : . : . -- "and
occasionally like this" -- . ' . ' . ' . ' "Can you remember that?"
"No, I cannot."
"But I can. I could swear to it. However, we will go back at
our leisure and verify it. What a blind beetle I have been, not to
draw my conclusion."
"And what is your conclusion?"
"Only that it is a remarkable cow which walks, canters, and
gallops. By George! Watson, it was no brain of a country
publican that thought out such a blind as that. The coast seems to
be clear, save for that lad in the smithy. Let us slip out and see
what we can see."
There were two rough-haired, unkempt horses in the tumble-
down stable. Holmes raised the hind leg of one of them and
"Old shoes, but newly shod -- old shoes, but new nails. This
case deserves to be a classic. Let us go across to the smithy."
The lad continued his work without regarding us. I saw Holmes's
eye darting to right and left among the litter of iron and wood
which was scattered about the floor. Suddenly, however, we
heard a step behind us, and there was the landlord, his heavy
eyebrows drawn over his savage eyes, his swarthy features con-
vulsed with passion. He held a short, metal-headed stick in his
hand, and he advanced in so menacing a fashion that I was right
glad to feel the revolver in my pocket.
"You infernal spies!" the man cried. "What are you doing
"Why, Mr. Reuben Hayes," said Holmes, coolly, "one might
think that you were afraid of our finding something out."