The Return of Sherlock Holmes
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my own eyes, I saw the skipper tip up his heels and put him over
the rail in the middle watch of a dark night, two days before we
sighted the Shetland Lights.
"Well, I kept my knowledge to myself, and waited to see
what would come of it. When we got back to Scotland it was
easily hushed up, and nobody asked any questions. A stranger
died by accident, and it was nobody's business to inquire. Shortly
after Peter Carey gave up the sea, and it was long years before I
could find where he was. I guessed that he had done the deed for
the sake of what was in that tin box, and that he could afford
now to pay me well for keeping my mouth shut.
"I found out where he was through a sailor man that had met
him in London, and down I went to squeeze him. The first night
he was reasonable enough, and was ready to give me what would
make me free of the sea for life. We were to fix it all two nights
later. When I came, I found him three parts drunk and in a vile
temper. We sat down and we drank and we yarned about old
times, but the more he drank the less I liked the look on his face.
I spotted that harpoon upon the wall, and I thought I might need
it before I was through. Then at last he broke out at me, spitting
and cursing, with murder in his eyes and a great clasp-knife in his
hand. He had not time to get it from the sheath before I had the
harpoon through him. Heavens! what a yell he gave! and his face
gets between me and my sleep. I stood there, with his blood
splashing round me, and I waited for a bit, but all was quiet, so l
took heart once more. I looked round, and there was the tin box
on the shelf. I had as much right to it as Peter Carey, anyhow, so
I took it with me and left the hut. Like a fool I left my
baccy-pouch upon the table.
"Now I'll tell you the queerest part of the whole story. I had
hardly got outside the hut when I heard someone coming, and I
hid among the bushes. A man came slinking along, went into the
hut, gave a cry as if he had seen a ghost, and legged it as hard as
he could run until he was out of sight. Who he was or what he
wanted is more than I can tell. For my part I walked ten miles,
got a train at Tunbridge Wells, and so reached London, and no
one the wiser.
"Well, when I came to examine the box I found there was no
money in it, and nothing but papers that I would not dare to sell.
I had lost my hold on Black Peter and was stranded in London
without a shilling. There was only my trade left. I saw these
advertisements about harpooners, and high wages, so I went to
the shipping agents, and they sent me here. That's all I know
and I say again that if I killed Bllck Peter, the law should give
me thanks, for I saved them the price of a hempen rope."
"A very clear statement," said Holmes, rising and lighting his
pipe. "I think, Hopkins, that you should lose no time in convey-
ing your prisoner to a place of safety. This room is not well
adapted for a cell, and Mr. Patrick Cairns occupies too large a
proportion of our carpet."
"Mr. Holmes," said Hopkins, "I do not know how to express
my gratitude. Even now I do not understand how you attained
"Simply by having the good fortune to get the right clue from
the beginning. It is very possible if I had known about this
notebook it might have led away my thoughts, as it did yours.
But all I heard pointed in the one direction. The amazing strength,
the skill in the use of the harpoon, the rum and water, the
sealskin tobacco-pouch with the coarse tobacco -- all these pointed
to a seaman, and one who had been a whaler. I was convinced
that the initials 'P. C.' upon the pouch were a coincidence, and
not those of Peter Carey, since he seldom smoked, and no pipe
was found in his cabin. You remember that I asked whether
whisky and brandy were in the cabin. You said they were. How
many landsmen are there who would drink rum when they could
get these other spirits? Yes, I was ccrtain it was a seaman."
"And how did you find him?"
"My dear sir, the problem had become a very simple one. If it
were a seaman, it could only be a seaman who had been with
him on the Sea Unicorn. So far as I could learn he had sailed in
no other ship. I spent three days in wiring to Dundee, and at the
end of that time I had ascertained the names of the crew of the
Sea Unicorn in 1883. When I found Patrick Cairns among the
harpooners, my research was nearing its end. I argued that the
man was probably in London, and that he would desire to leave
the country for a time. I therefore spent some days in the East
End, devised an Arctic expedition, put forth tempting terms for
harpooners who would serve under Captain Basil -- and behold
"Wonderful!" cried Hopkins. "Wonderful!"
"You must obtain the release of young Neligan as soon as
possible," said Holmes. "I confess that I think you owe him
some apology. The tin box must be returned to him, but, of
course, the securities which Peter Carey has sold are lost forever.
There's the cab, Hopkins, and you can remove your man. If you
want me for the trial, my address and that of Watson will be
somewhere in Norway -- I'll send particulars later."
The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton
It is years since the incidents of which I speak took place, and
yet it is with diffidence that I allude to them. For a long time,
even with the utmost discretion and reticence, it would have
been impossible to make the facts public, but now the principal
person concerned is beyond the reach of human law, and with
due suppression the story may be told in such fashion as to injure
no one. It records an absolutely unique experience in the career
both of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and of myself. The reader will
excuse me if I conceal the date or any other fact by which he
might trace the actual occurrence.
We had been out for one of our evening rambles, Holmes and
I, and had returned about six o'clock on a cold, frosty winter's
evening. As Holmes turned up the lamp the light fell upon a card
on the table. He glanced at it, and then, with an ejaculation of
disgust, threw it on the floor. I picked it up and read:
CHARLES AUGUSTUS MILVERTON,
"Who is he?" I asked.
"The worst man in London," Holmes answered, as he sat
down and stretched his legs before the fire. "Is anything on the
back of the card?"
I turned it over.
"Will call at 6:30 -- C. A. M.," I read.
"Hum! He's about due. Do you feel a creeping, shrinking
sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents in the
Zoo, and see the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with
their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that's how
Milverton impresses me. I've had to do with fifty murderers in
my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion
which I have for this fellow. And yet I can't get out of doing
business with him -- indeed, he is here at my invitation."
"But who is he?"
"I'll tell you, Watson. He is the king of all the blackmailers.
Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose secret
and reputation come into the power of Milverton! With a smiling
face and a heart of marble, he will squeeze and squeeze until he
has drained them dry. The fellow is a genius in his way, and
would have made his mark in some more savoury trade. His
method is as follows: He allows it to be known that he is
prepared to pay very high sums for letters which compromise
people of wealth and position. He receives these wares not only
from treacherous valets or maids, but frequently from genteel
ruffians, who have gained the confidence and affection of trust-
ing women. He deals with no niggard hand. I happen to know
that he paid seven hundred pounds to a footman for a note two
lines in length, and that the ruin of a noble family was the result.
Everything which is in the market goes to Milverton, and there
are hundreds in this great city who turn white at his name. No
one knows where his grip may fall, for he is far too rich and far
too cunning to work from hand to mouth. He will hold a card
back for years in order to play it at the moment when the stake is
best worth winning. I have said that he is the worst man in
London, and I would ask you how could one compare the
ruffian, who in hot blood bludgeons his mate, with this man,
who methodically and at his leisure tortures the soul and wrings
the nerves in order to add to his already swollen money-bags?"
I had seldom heard my friend speak with such intensity of
"But surely," said I, "the fellow must be within the grasp of
"Technically, no doubt, but practically not. What would it
profit a woman, for example, to get him a few months' impris-
onment if her own ruin must immediately follow? His victims
dare not hit back. If ever he blackmailed an innocent person,
then indeed we should have him, but he is as cunning as the Evil
One. No, no, we must find other ways to fight him."
"And why is he here?"
"Because an illustrious client has placed her piteous case in
my hands. It is the Lady Eva Blackwell, the most beautiful
debutante of last season. She is to be married in a fortnight to the
Earl of Dovercourt. This fiend has several imprudent letters --
imprudent, Watson, nothing worse -- which were written to an
impecunious young squire in the country. They would suffice to
break off the match. Milverton will send the letters to the Earl
unless a large sum of money is paid him. I have been commis-
sioned to meet him, and -- to make the best terms I can."
At that instant there was a clatter and a rattle in the street
below. Looking down I saw a stately carriage and pair, the
brilliant lamps gleaming on the glossy haunches of the noble