The Return of Sherlock Holmes
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"I've been down to Scotland Yard, Mr. Holmes. I saw In-
spector Stanley Hopkins. He advised me to come to you. He said
the case, so far as he could see, was more in your line than in
that of the regular police."
"Pray sit down and tell me what is the matter."
"It's awful, Mr. Holmes -- simply awful! I wonder my hair
isn't gray. Godfrey Staunton -- you've heard of him, of course?
He's simply the hinge that the whole team turns on. I'd rather
spare two from the pack, and have Godfrey for my three-quarter
line. Whether it's passing, or tackling, or dribbling, there's no
one to touch him, and then, he's got the head, and can hold us
all together. What am I to do? That's what I ask you, Mr.
Holmes. There's Moorhouse, first reserve, but he is trained as a
half, and he always edges right in on to the scrum instead of
keeping out on the touchline. He's a fine place-kick, it's true
but then he has no judgment, and he can't sprint for nuts. Why,
Morton or Johnson, the Oxford fliers, could romp round him.
Stevenson is fast enough, but he couldn't drop from the twenty-
five line, and a three-quarter who can't either punt or drop isn't
worth a place for pace alone. No, Mr. Holmes, we are done
unless you can help me to find Godfrey Staunton."
My friend had listened with amused surprise to this long
speech, which was poured forth with extraordinary vigour and
earnestness, every point being driven home by the slapping of a
brawny hand upon the speaker's knee. When our visitor was
silent Holmes stretched out his hand and took down letter "S"
of his commonplace book. For once he dug in vain into that
mine of varied information.
"There is Arthur H. Staunton, the rising young forger," said
he, "and there was Henry Staunton, whom I helped to hang, but
Godfrey Staunton is a new name to me."
It was our visitor's turn to look surprised.
"Why, Mr. Holmes, I thought you knew things," said he. "I
suppose, then, if you have never heard of Godfrey Staunton,
you don't know Cyril Overton either?"
Holmes shook his head good humouredly.
"Great Scott!" cried the athlete. "Why, I was first reserve for
England against Wales, and I've skippered the 'Varsity all this
year. But that's nothing! I didn't think there was a soul in
England who didn't know Godfrey Staunton, the crack three-
quarter, Cambridge, Blackheath, and five Internationals. Good
Lord! Mr. Holmes, where have you lived?"
Holmes laughed at the young giant's naive astonishment.
"You live in a different world to me, Mr. Overton -- a sweeter
and healthier one. My ramifications stretch out into many sec-
tions of society, but never, I am happy to say, into amateur
sport, which is the best and soundest thing in England. However,
your unexpected visit this morning shows me that even in that
world of fresh air and fair play, there may be work for me to do.
So now, my good sir, I beg you to sit down and to tell me,
slowly and quietly, exactly what it is that has occurred, and how
you desire that I should help you."
Young Overton's face assumed the bothered look of the man
who is more accustomed to using his muscles than his wits, but
by degrees, with many repetitions and obscurities which I may
omit from his narrative, he laid his strange story before us.
"It's this way, Mr. Holmes. As I have said, I am the skipper
of the Rugger team of Cambridge 'Varsity, and Godfrey Staunton
is my best man. To-morrow we play Oxford. Yesterday we all
came up, and we settled at Bentley's private hotel. At ten
o'clock I went round and saw that all the fellows had gone to
roost, for I believe in strict training and plenty of sleep to keep a
team fit. I had a word or two with Godfrey before he turned in.
He seemed to me to be pale and bothered. I asked him what was
the matter. He said he was all right -- just a touch of headache. I
bade him good-night and left him. Half an hour later, the porter
tells me that a rough-looking man with a beard called with a note
for Godfrey. He had not gone to bed, and the note was taken to
his room. Godfrey read it, and fell back in a chair as if he had
been pole-axed. The porter was so scared that he was going to
fetch me, but Godfrey stopped him, had a drink of water, and
pulled himself together. Then he went downstairs, said a few
words to the man who was waiting in the hall, and the two of
them went off together. The last that the porter saw of them,
they were almost running down the street in the direction of the
Strand. This morning Godfrey's room was empty, his bed had
never been slept in, and his things were all just as I had seen
them the night before. He had gone off at a moment's notice
with this stranger, and no word has come from him since. I don't
believe he will ever come back. He was a sportsman, was
Godfrey, down to his marrow, and he wouldn't have stopped his
training and let in his skipper if it were not for some cause that
was too strong for him. No: I feel as if he were gone for good,
and we should never see him again."
Sherlock Holmes listened with the deepest attention to this
"What did you do?" he asked.
"I wired to Cambridge to learn if anything had been heard of
him there. I have had an answer. No one has seen him."
"Could he have got back to Cambridge?"
"Yes, there is a late train -- quarter-past eleven."
"But, so far as you can ascertain, he did not take it?"
"No, he has not been seen."
"What did you do next?"
"I wired to Lord Mount-James."
"Why to Lord Mount-James?"
"Godfrey is an orphan, and Lord Mount-James is his nearest
relative -- his uncle, I believe."
"Indeed. This throws new light upon the matter. Lord Mount-
James is one of the richest men in England."
"So I've heard Godfrey say."
"And your friend was closely related?"
"Yes, he was his heir, and the old boy is nearly eighty -- cram
full of gout, too. They say he could chalk his billiard-cue with
his knuckles. He never allowed Godfrey a shilling in his life. for
he is an absolute miser, but it will all come to him right
"Have you heard from Lord Mount-James?"
"What motive could your friend have in going to Lord
"Well, something was worrying him the night before, and if it
was to do with money it is possible that he would make for his
nearest relative, who had so much of it, though from all I have
heard he would not have much chance of getting it. Godfrey was
not fond of the old man. He would not go if he could help it."
"Well, we can soon determine that. If your friend was going
to his relative, Lord Mount-James, you have then to explain the
visit of this rough-looking fellow at so late an hour, and the
agitation that was caused by his coming."
Cyril Overton pressed his hands to his head. "I can make
nothing of it," said he.
"Well, well, I have a clear day, and I shall be happy to look
into the matter," said Holmes. "I should strongly recommend
you to make your preparations for your match without reference
to this young gentleman. It must, as you say, have been an
overpowering necessity which tore him away in such a fashion,
and the same necessity is likely to hold him away. Let us step
round together to the hotel, and see if the porter can throw any
fresh light upon the matter."
Sherlock Holmes was a past-master in the art of putting a
humble witness at his ease, and very soon, in the privacy of
Godfrey Staunton's abandoned room, he had extracted all that
the porter had to tell. The visitor of the night before was not a
gentleman, neither was he a workingman. He was simply what
the porter described as a "medium-looking chap," a man of
fifty, beard grizzled, pale face, quietly dressed. He seemed
himself to be agitated. The porter had observed his hand trembling
when he had held out the note. Godfrey Staunton had crammed
the note into his pocket. Staunton had not shaken hands with the
man in the hall. They had exchanged a few sentences, of which
the porter had only distinguished the one word "time." Then
they had hurried off in the manner described. It was just half-
past ten by the hall clock.
"Let me see," said Holmes, seating himself on Staunton's
bed. "You are the day porter. are you not?"
"Yes, sir, I go off duty at eleven."
"The night porter saw nothing, I suppose?"
"No, sir, one theatre party came in late. No one else."
"Were you on duty all day yesterday?"
"Did you take any messages to Mr. Staunton?"
"Yes, sir, one telegram."
"Ah! that's interesting. What o'clock was this?"