The Return of Sherlock Holmes
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We had breakfasted and were smoking our morning pipe on
the day after the remarkable experience which I have recorded,
when Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, very solemn and impres-
sive, was ushered into our modest sitting-room.
"Good-morning, Mr. Holmes," said he; "good-morning. May
I ask if you are very busy just now?"
"Not too busy to listen to you."
"I thought that, perhaps, if you had nothing particular on
hand, you might care to assist us in a most remarkable case,
which occurred only last night at Hampstead."
"Dear me!" said Holmes. "What was that?"
"A murder -- a most dramatic and remarkable murder. I know
how keen you are upon these things, and I would take it as a
great favour if you would step down to Appledore Towers, and
give us the benefit of your advice. It is no ordinary crime. We
have had our eyes upon this Mr. Milverton for some time, and,
between ourselves, he was a bit of a villain. He is known to have
held papers which he used for blackmailing purposes. These
papers have all been burned by the murderers. No article of
value was taken, as it is probable that the criminals were men of
good position, whose sole object was to prevent social exposure."
"Criminals?" said Holmes. "Plural?"
"Yes, there were two of them. They were as nearly as possi-
ble captured red-handed. We have their footmarks, we have their
description, it's ten to one that we trace them. The first fellow
was a bit too active, but the second was caught by the under-
gardener, and only got away after a struggle. He was a middle-
sized, strongly built man -- square jaw, thick neck, moustache, a
mask over his eyes."
"That's rather vague," said Sherlock Holmes. "Why, it might
be a description of Watson!"
"It's true," said the inspector, with amusement. "It might be
a description of Watson."
"Well, I'm afraid I can't help you, Lestrade," said Holmes.
"The fact is that I knew this fellow Milverton, that I considered
him one of the most dangerous men in London, and that I think
there are certain crimes which the law cannot touch, and which
therefore, to some extent, justify private revenge. No, it's no use
arguing. I have made up my mind. My sympathies are with the
criminals rather than with the victim, and I will not handle this
Holmes had not said one word to me about the tragedy which
we had witnessed, but I observed all the morning that he was in
his most thoughtful mood, and he gave me the impression, from
his vacant eyes and his abstracted manner, of a man who is
striving to recall something to his memory. We were in the
middle of our lunch, when he suddenly sprang to his feet. "By
Jove, Watson, I've got it!" he cried. "Take your hat! Come
with me!" He hurried at his top speed down Baker Street and
along Oxford Street, until we had almost reached Regent Circus.
Here, on the left hand, there stands a shop window filled with
photographs of the celebrities and beauties of the day. Holmes's
eyes fixed themselves upon one of them, and following his gaze
I saw the picture of a regal and stately lady in Court dress, with a
high diamond tiara upon her noble head. I looked at that del-
icately curved nose, at the marked eyebrows, at the straight
mouth, and the strong little chin beneath it. Then I caught my
breath as I read the time-honoured title of the great nobleman
and statesman whose wife she had been. My eyes met those of
Holmes, and he put his finger to his lips as we turned away from
The Adventure of the Six Napoleons
It was no very unusual thing for Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland
Yard, to look in upon us of an evening, and his visits were wel-
come to Sherlock Holmes, for they enabled him to keep in touch
with all that was going on at the police headquarters. In return
for the news which Lestrde would bring, Holmes was always
ready to listen with attention to the details of any case upon
which the detective was engaged, and was able occasionally
without any active interference, to give some hint or suggestion
drawn from his own vast knowledge and experience.
On this particular evening, Lestrade had spoken of the weather
and the newspapers. Then he had fallen silent, puffing thoughtfully
at his cigar. Holmes looked keenly at him.
"Anything remarkable on hand?" he asked.
"Oh, no, Mr. Holmes -- nothing very particular."
"Then tell me about it."
"Well, Mr. Holmes, there is no use denying that there is
something on my mind. And yet it is such an absurd business,
that I hesitated to bother you about it. On the other hand,
although it is trivial, it is undoubtedly queer, and I know that
you have a taste for all that is out of the common. But, in my
opinion, it comes more in Dr. Watson's line than ours."
"Disease?" said I.
"Madness, anyhow. And a queer madness, too. You wouldn't
think there was anyone living at this time of day who had such a
hatred of Napoleon the First that he would break any image of
him that he could see."
Holmes sank back in his chair.
"That's no business of mine," said he.
"Exactly. That's what I said. But then, when the man com-
mits burglary in order to break images which are not his own,
that brings it away from the doctor and on to the policeman."
Holmes sat up again.
"Burglary! This is more interesting. Let me hear the details."
Lestrade took out his official notebook and refreshed his mem-
ory from its pages.
"The first case reported was four days ago," said he. "It was
at the shop of Morse Hudson, who has a place for the sale of
pictures and statues in the Kennington Road. The assistant had
left the front shop for an instant, when he heard a crash, and
hurrying in he found a plaster bust of Napoleon, which stood
with several other works of art upon the counter, lying shivered
into fragments. He rushed out into the road, but, although sev-
eral passers-by declared that they had noticed a man run out of
the shop, he could neither see anyone nor could he find any
means of identifying the rascal. It seemed to be one of those
senseless acts of Hooliganism which occur from time to time,
and it was reported to the constable on the beat as such. The
plaster cast was not worth more than a few shillings, and the
whole affair appeared to be too childish for any particular
"The second case, however, was more serious, and also more
singular. It occurred only last night.
"In Kennington Road, and within a few hundred yards of
Morse Hudson's shop, there lives a well-known medical practi-
tioner, named Dr. Barnicot, who has one of the largest practices
upon the south side of the Thames. His residence and principal
consulting-room is at Kennington Road, but he has a branch
surgery and dispensary at Lower Brixton Road, two miles away.
This Dr. Barnicot is an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon, and his
house is full of books, pictures, and relics of the French Em-
peror. Some little time ago he purchased from Morse Hudson
two duplicate plaster casts of the famous head of Napoleon by
the French sculptor, Devine. One of these he placed in his hall in
the house at Kennington Road, and the other on the mantelpiece
of the surgery at Lower Brixton. Well, when Dr. Barnicot came
down this morning he was astonished to find that his house had
been burgled during the night, but that nothing had been taken
save the plaster head from the hall. It had been carried out and
had been dashed savagely against the garden wall, under which
its splintered fragments were discovered."
Holmes rubbed his hands.
"This is certainly very novel," said he.
"I thought it would please you. But I have not got to the end
yet. Dr. Barnicot was due at his surgery at twelve o'clock, and
you can imagine his amazement when, on arriving there, he
found that the window had been opened in the night, and that the
broken pieces of his second bust were strewn all over the room.
It had been smashed to atoms where it stood. In neither case
were there any signs which could give us a clue as to the
criminal or lunatic who had done the mischief. Now, Mr. Holmes,
you have got the facts."
"They are singular, not to say grotesque," said Holmes.
"May I ask whether the two busts smashed in Dr. Barnicot's
rooms were the exact duplicates of the one which was destroyed
in Morse Hudson's shop?"
"They were taken from the same mould."
"Such a fact must tell against the theory that the man who
breaks them is influenced by any general hatred of Napoleon.
Considering how many hundreds of statues of the great Emperor
must exist in London, it is too much to suppose such a coinci-
dence as that a promiscuous iconoclast should chance to begin
upon three specimens of the same bust."
"Well, I thought as you do," said Lestrade. "On the other
hand, this Morse Hudson is the purveyor of busts in that part of
London, and these three were the only ones which had been in
his shop for years. So, although, as you say, there are many
hundreds of statues in London, it is very probable that these
three were the only ones in that district. Therefore, a local