PART I Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Me
Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of
John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army
Mr. Sherlock Holmes
In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the
University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the
course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed
my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland
Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in
India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan
war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my
corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in
the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other
officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded
in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and
at once entered upon my new duties.
The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but
for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed
from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I
served at the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the
shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed
the subclavian artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the
murderous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage
shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a pack-
horse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines.
Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships
which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of
wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawar. Here I
rallied, and had already improved so far as to be able to walk
about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the veranda
when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indian
possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at
last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak
and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day
should be lost in sending me back to England. I was despatched
accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and landed a month later
on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ruined, but
with permission from a paternal government to spend the next
nine months in attempting to improve it.
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free
as air -- or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a
day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I natu-
rally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the
loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I
stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a
comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as
I had, considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the
state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must
either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the coun-
try, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of
living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my
mind to leave the hotel, and take up my quarters in some less
pretentious and less expensive domicile.
On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was
standing at the Criterion Bar, when someone tapped me on the
shoulder, and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who
had been a dresser under me at Bart's. The sight of a friendly
face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed
to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particu-
lar crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he,
in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance
of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we
started off together in a hansom.
"Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?" he
asked in undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded
London streets. "You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a
I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly
concluded it by the time that we reached our destination.
"Poor devil!" he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened
to my misfortunes. "What are you up to now?"
"Looking for lodgings," I answered. "Trying to solve the
problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a
"That's a strange thing," remarked my companion; "you are
the second man today that has used that expression to me."
"And who was the first?" I asked.
"A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the
hospital. He was bemoaning himself this morning because he
could not get someone to go halves with him in some nice rooms
which he had found, and which were too much for his purse."
"By Jove!" I cried; "if he really wants someone to share the
rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should
prefer having a partner to being alone."
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-
glass. "You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet," he said; "per-
haps you would not care for him as a constant companion."
"Why, what is there against him?"
"Oh, I didn't say there was anything against him. He is a little
queer in his ideas -- an enthusiast in some branches of science.
As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough."
"A medical student, I suppose?" said I.
"No -- I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he
is well up in anatomy, and he is a first-class chemist; but, as far
as I know, he has never taken out any systematic medical
classes. His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but he has
amassed a lot of out-of-the-way knowledge which would aston-
ish his professors."
"Did you never ask him what he was going in for?" I asked.
"No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can
be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him."
"I should like to meet him," I said. "If I am to lodge with
anyone, I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am
not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had
enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my
natural existence. How could I meet this friend of yours?"
"He is sure to be at the laboratory," returned my companion.
"He either avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there
from morning till night. If you like, we will drive round together
"Certainly," I answered, and the conversation drifted away
into other channels.
As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn,
Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman
whom I proposed to take as a fellow-lodger.
"You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with him," he
said; "I know nothing more of him than I have learned from
meeting him occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this
arrangement, so you must not hold me responsible."
"If we don't get on it will be easy to part company," I
answered. "It seems to me, Stamford," I added, looking hard at
my companion, "that you have some reason for washing your
hands of the matter. Is this fellow's temper so formidable, or
what is it? Don't be mealymouthed about it."
"It is not easy to express the inexpressible," he answered
with a laugh. "Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes -- it
approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a
friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of
malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of
inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do
him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same
readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact
"Very right too."
"Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to
beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is
certainly taking rather a bizarre shape."
"Beating the subjects!"
"Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I
saw him at it with my own eyes."
"And yet you say he is not a medical student?"
"No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But
here we are, and you must form your own impressions about
him." As he spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed
through a small side-door, which opened into a wing of the great
hospital. It was familiar ground to me, and I needed no guiding
as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and made our way down
the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall and dun-
coloured doors. Near the farther end a low arched passage
branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory.
This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless
bottles. Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled
with retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue
flickering flames. There was only one student in the room, who
was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the
sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a
cry of pleasure. "I've found it! I've found it," he shouted to my
companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. "I
have found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and
by nothing else." Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight
could not have shone upon his features.
"Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, intro-
"How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a
strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. "You
have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."
"How on earth did you know that?" I asked in astonishment.
"Never mind," said he, chuckling to himselfl "The question
now is about haemoglobin. No doubt you see the significance of
this discovery of mine?"
"It is interesting, chemically, no doubt," I answered, "but
"Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery
for years. Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for
blood stains? Come over here now!" He seized me by the
coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at
which he had been working. "Let us have some fresh blood,"
he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and drawing off
the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. "Now, I add
this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that
the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The
proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have
no doubt, however, that we shall be able to obtain the character-
istic reaction." As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a few
white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent fluid.
In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogahy colour, and a
brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar.
"Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted
as a child with a new toy. "What do you think of that?"
"It seems to be a very delicate test," I remarked.
"Beautiful! beautiful! The old guaiacum test was very clumsy
and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood
corpuscles. The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours
old. Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or
new. Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now
walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of
"Indeed!" I murmured.
"Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point.
A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been
committed. His linen or clothes are examined and brownish
stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud
stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a
question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because
there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes's
test, and there will no longer be any difficulty."
His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over
his heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up
by hls imagination.
"You are to be congratulated," I remarked, considerably
surprised at his enthusiasm.
"There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year.
He would certainly have been hung had this test been in exis-
tence. Then there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious
Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of New Or-
leans. I could name a score of cases in which it would have been
_"You seem to be a walking calendar of crime," said Stamford
with a laugh. "You might start a paper on those lines. Call it the
'Police News of the Past.' "
"Very interesting reading it might be made, too," remarked
Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick
on his finger. "I have to be careful," he continued, turning to
me with a smile, "for I dabble with poisons a good deal." He
held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all
mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, and discoloured with
"We came here on business," said Stamford, sitting down on
a high three-legged stool, and pushing another one in my direc-
tion with his foot. "My friend here wants to take diggings; and
as you were complaining that you could get no one to go halves
with you, I thought that I had better bring you together."
Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his
rooms with me. "I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street," he
said, "which would suit us down to the ground. You don't mind
the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?"
"I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered.
"That's good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and
occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you?"
"By no means."
"Let me see -- what are my other shortcomings? I get in the
dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end. You
must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and
I'll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It's just as
well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before
they begin to live together."
I laughed at this cross-examination. "I keep a bull pup," I
said, "and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I
get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I
have another set of vices when I'm well, but those are the
principal ones at present."
"Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?" he
"It depends on the player," I answered. "A well-played
violin is a treat for the gods -- a badly played one --"
"Oh, that's all right," he cried, with a merry laugh. "I think
we may consider the thing as settled -- that is if the rooms are
agreeable to you."
"When shall we see them?"
"Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we'll go together
and settle everything," he answered.
"All right -- noon exactly," said I, shaking his hand.
We left him working among his chemicals, and we walked
together towards my hotel.
"By the way," I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon
Stamford, "how the deuce did he know that I had come from
My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. "That's just his
little peculiarity," he said. "A good many people have wanted
to know how he finds things out."
"Oh! a mystery is it?" I cried, rubbing my hands. "This is
very piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together.
'The proper study of mankind is man,' you know."
"You must study him, then," Stamford said, as he bade me
good-bye. "You'll find him a knotty problem, though. I'll wager
he learns more about you than you about him. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, consid-
erably interested in my new acquaintance.
The Science of Deduction
We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at
No. 22lB, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting.
They consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single
large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by
two broad windows. So desirable in every way were the apart-
ments, and so moderate did the terms seem when divided be-
tween us, that the bargain was concluded upon the spot, and we
at once entered into possession. That very evening I moved my
things round from the hotel, and on the following morning
Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and portman-
teaus. For a day or two we were busily employed in unpacking
and laying out our property to the best advantage. That done, we
gradually began to settle down and to accommodate ourselves to
our new surroundings.
Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was
quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him
to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and
gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his
day at the chemical laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-
rooms, and occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take
him into the lowest portions of the city. Nothing could exceed
his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and
again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would
lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or
moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I
have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I
might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some
narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life
forbidden such a notion.
As the weeks went by, my interest in him and my curiosity as
to his aims in life gradually deepened and increased. His very
person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the
most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and
so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His
eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of
torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave
his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin,
too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of
determination. His hands were invariably blotted with ink and
stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of extraordinary
delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I
watched him manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments.
The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I
confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how
often I endeavoured to break through the reticence which he
showed on all that concerned himself. Before pronouncing judg-
ment, however, be it remembered how objectless was my life,
and how little there was to engage my attention. My health
forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was exception-
ally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and
break the monotony of my daily existence. Under these circum-
stances, I eagerly hailed the little mystery which hung around my
companion, and spent much of my time in endeavouring to
He was not studying medicine. He had himself, in reply to a
question, confirmed Stamford's opinion upon that point. Neither
did he appear to have pursued any course of reading which might
fit him for a degree, in science or any other recognized portal
which would give him an entrance into the learned world. Yet
his zeal for certain studies was remarkable, and within eccentric
limits his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample and minute
that his observations have fairly astounded me. Surely no man
would work so hard or attain such precise information unless he
had some definite end in view. Desultory readers are seldom
remarkable for the exactness of their learning. No man burdens
his mind with small matters unless he has some very good reason
for doing so.
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of con-
temporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know
next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired
in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My
surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally
that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the compo-
sition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in
this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth trav-
elled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary
fact that I could hardly realize it.
"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my ex-
pression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best
to forget it."
"To forget it!"
"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain
originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it
with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber
of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which
might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up
with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his
hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as
to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the
tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has
a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a
mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can
distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when
for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you
knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to
have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."
"But the Solar System!" I protested.
"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently:
"you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it
would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my
I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but
something in his manner showed me that the question would be
an unwelcome one. I pondered over our short conversation
however, and endeavoured to draw my deductions from it. He
said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear
upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed
was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own
mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he
was exceptionally well informed. I even took a pencil and jotted
them down. I could not help smiling at the document when I had
completed it. It ran in this way:
Sherlock Holmes -- his limits
1. Knowledge of Literature. -- Nil.
2. " " Philosophy. -- Nil.
3. " " Astronomy. -- Nil.
4. " " Politics. -- Feeble.
5. " " Botany. -- Variable.
Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally.
Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Knowledge of Geology. -- Practical, but limited.
Tells at a glance different soils from each other.
After walks has shown me splashes upon his trou-
sers, and told me by their colour and consistence in
what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry. -- Profound.
8. " " Anatomy. -- Accurate, but unsystematic
9. " " Sensational Literature. -- Immense.
He appears to know every detail of every horror
perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in
despair. "If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by
reconciling all these accomplishments, and discovering a calling
which needs them all," I said to myself, "I may as well give up
the attempt at once."
I see that I have alluded above to his powers upon the violin.
These were very remarkable, but as eccentric as all his other
accomplishments. That he could play pieces, and difficult pieces,
I knew well, because at my request he has played me some of
Mendelssohn's Lieder, and other favourites. When left to him-
self, however, he would seldom produce any music or attempt
any recognized air. Leaning back in his armchair of an evening,
he would close his eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle which
was thrown across his knee. Sometimes the chords were sono-
rous and melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and cheer-
ful. Clearly they reflected the thoughts which possessed him, but
whether the music aided those thoughts, or whether the playing
was simply the result of a whim or fancy, was more than I could
determine. I might have rebelled against these exasperating solos
had it not been that he usually terminated them by playing in
quick succession a whole series of my favourite airs as a slight
compensation for the trial upon my patience.
During the first week or so we had no callers, and I had begun
to think that my companion was as friendless a man as I was
myself. Presently, however, I found that he had many acquaint-
ances, and those in the most different classes of society. There
was one little sallow, rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow, who was
introduced to me as Mr. Lestrade, and who came three or four
times in a single week. One morning a young girl called, fash-
ionably dressed, and stayed for half an hour or more. The same
afternoon brought a gray-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a
Jew peddler, who appeared to me to be much excited, and who
was closely followed by a slipshod elderly woman. On another
occasion an old white-haired gentleman had an interview with
my companion; and on another, a railway porter in his velveteen
uniform. When any of these nondescript individuals put in an
appearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use of the
sitting-room, and I would retire to my bedroom. He always
apologized to me for putting me to this inconvenience. "I have
to use this room as a place of business," he said, "and these
people are my clients." Again I had an opportunity of asking
him a point-blank question, and again my delicacy prevented me
from forcing another man to confide in me. I imagined at the
time that he had some strong reason for not alluding to it, but he
soon dispelled the idea by coming round to the subject of his
It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good reason to
remember, that I rose somewhat earlier than usual, and found
that Sherlock Holmes had not yet finished his breakfast. The
landlady had become so accustomed to my late habits that my
place had not been laid nor my coffee prepared. With the unrea-
sonable petulance of mankind I rang the bell and gave a curt
intimation that I was ready. Then I picked up a magazine from
the table and attempted to while away the time with it, while my
companion munched silently at his toast. One of the articles had
a pencil mark at the heading, and I naturally began to run my eye
Its somewhat ambitious title was "The Book of Life," and it
attempted to show how much an observant man might learn by
an accurate and systematic examination of all that came in his
way. It struck me as being a remarkable mixture of shrewdness
and of absurdity. The reasoning was close and intense, but the
deductions appeared to me to be far fetched and exaggerated.
The writer claimed by a momentary expression, a twitch of a
muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a man's inmost thoughts.
Deceit, according to him, was an impossibility in the case of one
trained to observation and analysis. His conclusions were as
infallible as so many propositions of Euclid. So startling would
his results appear to the uninitiated that until they learned the
processes by which he had arrived at them they might well
consider him as a necromancer.
"From a drop of water," said the writer, "a logician could
infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having
seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the
nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link
of it. Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis
is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study, nor
is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest
possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and
mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficul-
ties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary prob-
lems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to
distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to
which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it
sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to
look and what to look for. By a man's finger-nails, by his
coat-sleeve, by his boots, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities
of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-
cuffs -- by each of these things a man's calling is plainly re-
vealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent
inquirer in any case is almost inconceivable."
"What ineffable twaddle!" I cried, slapping the magazine
down on the table; "I never read such rubbish in my life."
"What is it?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
"Why, this article," I said, pointing at it with my eggspoon as
I sat down to my breakfast. "I see that you have read it since
you have marked it. I don't deny that it is smartly written. It
irritates me, though. It is evidently the theory of some armchair
lounger who evolves all these neat little paradoxes in the seclu-
sion of his own study. It is not practical. I should like to see him
clapped down in a third-class carriage on the Underground, and
asked to give the trades of all his fellow-travellers. I would lay a
thousand to one against him."
"You would lose your money," Holmes remarked calmly.
"As for the article, I wrote it myself."
"Yes; I have a turn both for observation and for deduction.
The theories which I have expressed there, and which appear to
you to be so chimerical, are really extremely practical -- so prac-
tical that I depend upon them for my bread and cheese."
"And how?" I asked involuntarily.
"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one
in the world. I'm a consulting detective, if you can understand
what that is. Here in London we have lots of government detec-
tives and lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault,
they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent.
They lay all the evidence before me, and I am generally able, by
the help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to set them
straight. There is a strong family resemblance about misdeeds,
and if you have all the details of a thousand at your finger ends,
it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first. Lestrade is a
well-known detective. He got himself into a fog recently over a
forgery case, and that was what brought him here."
"And these other people?"
"They are mostly sent on by private inquiry agencies. They
are all people who are in trouble about something and want a
little enlightening. I listen to their story, they listen to my
comments, and then I pocket my fee."
"But do you mean to say," I said, "that without leaving your
room you can unravel some knot which other men can make
nothing of, although they have seen every detail for themselves?"
"Quite so. l have a kind of intuition that way. Now and again
a case turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to
bustle about and see things with my own eyes. You see I have a
lot of special knowledge which I apply to the problem, and
which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those rules of deduction
laid down in that article which aroused your scorn are invaluable
to me in practical work. Observation with me is second nature.
You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our first
meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan."
"You were told, no doubt."
"Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan.
From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my
mind that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of
intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of
reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with
the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has
just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not
the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has
undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly.
His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural
manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have
seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Af-
ghanistan.' The whole train of thought did not occupy a second.
I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were
"It is simple enough as you explain it," I said, smiling. "You
remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that such
individuals did exist outside of stories."
Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think
that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he
observed. "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior
fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts
with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is
really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical ge-
nius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as
Poe appeared to imagine."
"Have you read Gaboriau's works?" I asked. "Does Lecoq
come up to your idea of a detective?"
Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq was a misera-
ble bungler," he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing
to recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me
positively ill. The question was how to identify an unknown
prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four hours. Lecoq took
six months or so. It might be made a textbook for detectives to
teach them what to avoid."
I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had
admired treated in this cavalier style. I walked over to the
window and stood looking out into the busy street. "This fellow
may be very clever," I said to myself, "but he is certainly very
"There are no crimes and no criminals in these days," he
said, querulously. "What is the use of having brains in our
profession? I know well that I have it in me to make my name
famous. No man lives or has ever lived who has brought the
same amount of study and of natural talent to the detection of
crime which I have done. And what is the result? There is no
crime to detect, or, at most, some bungling villainy with a
motive so transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can see
I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of conversation. I
thought it best to change the topic.
"I wonder what that fellow is looking for?" I asked, pointing
to a stalwart, plainly dressed individual who was walking slowly
down the other side of the street, looking anxiously at the
numbers. He had a large blue envelope in his hand, and was
evidently the bearer of a message.
"You mean the retired sergeant of Marines," said Sherlock
"Brag and bounce!" thought I to myself. "He knows that I
cannot verify his guess."
The thought had hardly passed through my mind when the
man whom we were watching caught sight of the number on our
door, and ran rapidly across the roadway. We heard a loud
knock, a deep voice below, and heavy steps ascending the stair.
"For Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said, stepping into the room
and handing my friend the letter.
Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit out of him. He
little thought of this when he made that random shot. "May I
ask, my lad," I said, in the blandest voice, "what your trade
"Commissionaire, sir," he said, gruffly. "Uniform away for
"And you were?" I asked, with a slightly malicious glance at
"A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry, sir. No an-
swer? Right, sir."
He clicked his heels together, raised his hand in salute, and
The Lauriston Garden Mystery
I confess that I was considerably startled by this fresh proof of
the practical nature of my companion's theories. My respect for
his powers of analysis increased wondrously. There still re-
mained some lurking suspicion in my mind, however, that the
whole thing was a prearranged episode, intended to dazzle me,
though what earthly object he could have in taking me in was
past my comprehension. When I looked at him, he had finished
reading the note, and his eyes had assumed the vacant, lack-
lustre expression which showed mental abstraction.
"How in the world did you deduce that?" I asked.
"Deduce what?" said he, petulantly.
"Why, that he was a retired sergeant of Marines."
"I have no time for trifles," he answered, brusquely, then
with a smile, "Excuse my rudeness. You broke the thread of my
thoughts; but perhaps it is as well. So you actually were not able
to see that that man was a sergeant of Marines?"
"It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you
were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find
some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even
across the street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed on the
back of the fellow's hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a
military carriage, however, and regulation side whiskers. There
we have the marine. He was a man with some amount of
self-importance and a certain air of command. You must have
observed the way in which he held his head and swung his cane.
A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the face of
him -- all facts which led me to believe that he had been a
"Wonderful!" I ejaculated.
"Commonplace," said Holmes, though I thought from his
expression that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admi-
ration. "I said just now that there were no criminals. It appears
that I am wrong -- look at this!" He threw me over the note
which the commissionaire had brought.
"Why," I cried, as I cast my eye over it, "this is terrible!"
"It does seem to be a little out of the common," he remarked,
calmly. "Would you mind reading it to me aloud?"
This is the letter which I read to him, --
"MY DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES:
"There has been a bad business during the night at 3,
Lauriston Gardens, off the Brixton Road. Our man on the
beat saw a light there about two in the morning, and as the
house was an empty one, suspected that something was
amiss. He found the door open, and in the front room,
which is bare of furniture, discovered the body of a gentle-
man, well dressed, and having cards in his pocket bearing
the name of 'Enoch J. Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio, U. S. A.'
There had been no robbery, nor is there any evidence as to
how the man met his death. There are marks of blood in the
room, but there is no wound upon his person. We are at a
loss as to how he came into the empty house; indeed, the
whole affair is a puzzler. If you can come round to the
house any time before twelve, you will find me there. I
have left everything in statu quo until I hear from you. If
you are unable to come, I shall give you fuller details, and
would esteem it a great kindness if you would favour me
with your opinions.
"Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders," my friend
remarked; "he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot. They are
both quick and energetic, but conventional -- shockingly so. They
have their knives into one another, too. They are as jealous as a
pair of professional beauties. There will be some fun over this
case if they are both put upon the scent."
I was amazed at the calm way in which he rippled on. "Surely
there is not a moment to be lost," I cried, "shall I go and order
you a cab?"
"I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incura-
bly lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather -- that is, when the
fit is on me, for I can be spry enough at times."
"Why, it is just such a chance as you have been longing for."
"My dear fellow, what does it matter to me? Supposing I
unravel the whole matter, you may be sure that Gregson, Lestrade,
and Co. will pocket all the credit. That comes of being an
"But he begs you to help him."
"Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and acknowledges it
to me; but he would cut his tongue out before he would own it to
any third person. However, we may as well go and have a look.
I shall work it out on my own hook. I may have a laugh at them
if I have nothing else. Come on!"
He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about in a way that
showed that an energetic fit had superseded the apathetic one.
"Get your hat," he said.
"You wish me to come?"
"Yes, if you have nothing better to do." A minute later we
were both in a hansom, driving furiously for the Brixton Road.
It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung
over the housetops, looking like the reflection of the mud-
coloured streets beneath. My companion was in the best of
spirits, and prattled away about Cremona fiddles and the differ-
ence between a Stradivarius and an Amati. As for myself, I was
silent, for the dull weather and the melancholy business upon
which we were engaged depressed my spirits.
"You don't seem to give much thought to the matter in
hand," I said at last, interrupting Holmes's musical disquisition.
"No data yet," he answered. "It is a capital mistake to
theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."
"You will have your data soon," I remarked, pointing with
my finger; "this is the Brixton Road, and that is the house, if I
am not very much mistaken."
"So it is. Stop, driver, stop!" We were still a hundred yards
or so from it, but he insisted upon our alighting, and we finished
our journey upon foot.
Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and mina-
tory look. It was one of four which stood back some little way
from the street, two being occupied and two empty. The latter
looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which
were blank and dreary, save that here and there a "To Let" card
had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small
garden sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants
separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed
by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour, and consisting appar-
ently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place was
very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night.
The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe
of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was leaning a
stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers,
who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope
of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.
I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have
hurried into the house and plunged into a study of the mystery.
Nothing appeared to be further from his intention. With an air of
nonchalance which, under the circumstances, seemed to me to
border upon affectation, he lounged up and down the pavement,
and gazed vacantly at the ground, the sky, the opposite houses
and the line of railings. Having finished his scrutiny, he pro-
ceeded slowly down the path, or rather down the fringe of grass
which flanked the path, keeping his eyes riveted upon the ground.
Twice he stopped, and once I saw him smile, and heard him
utter an exclamation of satisfaction. There were many marks of
footsteps upon the wet clayey soil; but since the police had been
coming and going over it, I was unable to see how my compan-
ion could hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such
extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his perceptive facul-
ties, that I had no doubt that he could see a great deal which was
hidden from me.
At the door of the house we were met by a tall, white-faced,
flaxen-haired man, with a notebook in his hand, who rushed
forward and wrung my companion's hand with effusion. "It is
indeed kind of you to come," he said, "I have had everything
"Except that!" my friend answered, pointing at the pathway.
"If a herd of buffaloes had passed along, there could not be a
greater mess. No doubt, however, you had drawn your own
conclusions, Gregson, before you permitted this."
"I have had so much to do inside the house," the detective
said evasively. "My colleague, Mr. Lestrade, is here. I had
relied upon him to look after this."
Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows sardonically.
"With two such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground
there will not be much for a third party to find out," he said.
Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied way. "I think we
have done all that can be done," he answered; "it's a queer
case, though, and I knew your taste for such things."
"You did not come here in a cab?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
"Then let us go and look at the room." With which inconse-
quent remark he strode on into the house followed by Gregson,
whose features expressed his astonishment.
A short passage, bare-planked and dusty, led to the kitchen
and offices. Two doors opened out of it to the left and to the
right. One of these had obviously been closed for many weeks.
The other belonged to the dining-room, which was the apartment
in which the mysterious affair had occurred. Holmes walked in,
and I followed him with that subdued feeling at my heart which
the presence of death inspires.
It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the
absence of all furniture. A vulgar flaring paper adorned the
walls, but it was blotched in places with mildew, and here and
there great strips had become detached and hung down, exposing
the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the door was a showy
fireplace, surmounted by a mantelpiece of imitation white mar-
ble. On one corner of this was stuck the stump of a red wax
candle. The solitary window was so dirty that the light was hazy
and uncertain, giving a dull gray tinge to everything, which was
intensified by the thick layer of dust which coated the whole
All these details I observed afterwards. At present my atten-
tion was centred upon the single, grim, motionless figure which
lay stretched upon the boards, with vacant, sightless eyes staring
up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a man about forty-
three or forty-four years of age, middle-sized, broad-shouldered,
with crisp curling black hair, and a short, stubbly beard. He was
dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat, with
light-coloured trousers, and immaculate collar and cuffs. A top
hat, well brushed and trim, was placed upon the floor beside
him. His hands were clenched and his arms thrown abroad,
while his lower limbs were interlocked, as though his death
struggle had been a grievous one. On his rigid face there stood
an expression of horror, and, as it seemed to me, of hatred, such
as I have never seen upon human features. This malignant and
terrible contortion, combined with the low forehead, blunt nose,
and prognathous jaw, gave the dead man a singularly simious
and ape-like appearance, which was increased by. his writhing,
unnatural posture. I have seen death in many forms, but never
has it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that
dark, grimy apartment, which looked out upon one of the main
arteries of suburban London.
Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the
doorway, and greeted my companion and myself.
"This case will make a stir, sir," he remarked. "It beats
anything I have seen, and I am no chicken."
"There is no clue?" said Gregson.
"None at all," chimed in Lestrade.
Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down,
examined it intently. "You are sure that there is no wound?" he
asked, pointing to numerous gouts and splashes of blood which
lay all round.
"Positive!" cried both detectives.
"Then, of course, this blood belongs to a second individual --
presumably the murderer, if murder has been committed. It
reminds me of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van
Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year '34. Do you remember the case,
"Read it up -- you really should. There is nothing new under
the sun. It has all been done before."
As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and
everywhere, feeling, pressing, unbuttoning, examining, while
his eyes wore the same far-away expression which I have already
remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination made, that one
would hardly have guessed the minuteness with which it was
conducted. Finally, he sniffed the dead man's lips, and then
glanced at the soles of his patent leather boots.
"He has not been moved at all?" he asked.
"No more than was necessary for the purpose of our exam-
"You can take him to the mortuary now," he said. "There is
nothing more to be learned."
Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. At his call they
entered the room, and the stranger was lifted and carried out. As
they raised him, a ring tinkled down and rolled across the floor.
Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with mystified eyes.
"There's been a woman here," he cried. "It's a woman's
He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of his hand. We all
gathered round him and gazed at it. There could be no doubt that
that circlet of plain gold had once adorned the finger of a bride.
"This complicates matters," said Gregson. "Heaven knows,
they were complicated enough before."
"You're sure it doesn't simplify them?" observed Holmes.
"There's nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you
find in his pockets?"
"We have it all here," said Gregson, pointing to a litter of
objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs. "A gold
watch, No. 97163, by Barraud, of London. Gold Albert chain,
very heavy and solid. Gold ring, with masonic device. Gold
pin -- bull-dog's head, with rubies as eyes. Russian leather cardcase,
with cards of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland, corresponding with
the E. J. D. upon the linen. No purse, but loose money to the
extent of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of Boccaccio's
'Decameron,' with name of Joseph Stangerson upon the flyleaf.
Two letters -- one addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph
"At what address?"
"American Exchange, Strand -- to be left till called for. They
are both from the Guion Steamship Company, and refer to the
sailing of their boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this unfortu-
nate man was about to return to New York."
"Have you made any inquiries as to this man Stangerson?"
"I did it at once, sir," said Gregson. "I have had advertise-
ments sent to all the newspapers, and one of my men has gone to
the American Exchange, but he has not returned yet."
"Have you sent to Cleveland?"
"We telegraphed this morning."
"How did you word your inquiries?"
"We simply detailed the circumstances, and said that we
should be glad of any information which could help us."
"You did not ask for particulars on any point which appeared
to you to be crucial?"
"I asked about Stangerson."
"Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on which this whole
case appears to hinge? Will you not telegraph again?"
"I have said all I have to say," said Gregson, in an offended
Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and appeared to be
about to make some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the
front room while we were holding this conversation in the hall,
reappeared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a pompous and
"Mr. Gregson," he said, "I have just made a discovery of the
highest importance, and one which would have been overlooked
had I not made a careful examination of the walls."
The little man's eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evi-
dently in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point
against his colleague.
"Come here," he said, bustling back into the room, the
atmosphere of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly
inmate. "Now, stand there!"
He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall.
"Look at that!" he said, triumphantly.
I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this
particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off,
leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare
space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word --
"What do you think of that?" cried the detective, with the air
of a showman exhibiting his show. "This was overlooked be-
cause it was in the darkest corner of the room, and no one
thought of looking there. The murderer has written it with his or
her own blood. See this smear where it has trickled down the
wall! That disposes of the idea of suicide anyhow. Why was that
corner chosen to write it on? I will tell you. See that candle on
the mantelpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this corner
would be the brightest instead of the darkest portion of the
"And what does it mean now that you have found it?" asked
Gregson in a depreciatory voice.
"Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the
female name Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time
to finish. You mark my words, when this case comes to be
cleared up, you will find that a woman named Rachel has
something to do with it. It's all very well for you to laugh, Mr.
Sherlock Holmes. You may be very smart and clever, but the old
hound is the best, when all is said and done."
"I really beg your pardon!" said my companion, who had
ruffled the little man's temper by bursting into an explosion of
laughter. "You certainly have the credit of being the first of us
to find this out and, as you say, it bears every mark of having
been written by the other participant in last night's mystery. I
have not had time to examine this room yet, but with your
permission I shall do so now."
As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round
magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he
trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occa-
sionally kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So en-
grossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have
forgotten our presence, for he chattered away to himself under
his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire of exclama-
tions, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of encourage-
ment and of hope. As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded
of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as it dashes backward
and forward through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it
comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he
continued his researches, measuring with the most exact care the
distance between marks which were entirely invisible to me, and
occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally incom-
prehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a
little pile of gray dust from the floor, and packed it away in an
envelope. Finally he examined with his glass the word upon the
wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exact-
ness. This done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he replaced his
tape and his glass in his pocket.
"They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,"
he remarked with a smile. "It's a very bad definition, but it does
apply to detective work."
Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres of their
amateur companion with considerable curiosity and some con-
tempt. They evidently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had
begun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes's smallest actions were
all directed towards some definite and practical end.
"What do you think of it, sir?" they both asked.
"It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I were to
presume to help you," remarked my friend. "You are doing so
well now that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere." There
was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. "If you will let
me know how your investigations go," he continued, "I shall be
happy to give you any help I can. In the meantime I should like
to speak to the constable who found the body. Can you give me
his name and address?"
Lestrade glanced at his notebook. "John Rance," he said.
"He is off duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court,
Kennington Park Gate."
Holmes took a note of the address.
"Come along, Doctor," he said: "we shall go and look him
up. I'll tell you one thing which may help you in the case," he
continued, turning to the two detectives. "There has been mur-
der done, and the murderer was a man. He was more than six
feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height,
wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar.
He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was
drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his
off fore-leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid face, and
the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These
are only a few indications, but they may assist you."
Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredu-
"If this man was murdered, how was it done?" asked the
"Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. "One
other thing, Lestrade," he added, turning round at the door:
" 'Rache,' is the German for 'revenge'; so don't lose your time
looking for Miss Rachel."
With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two
rivals open mouthed behind him.
What John Rance Had to Tell
It was one o'clock when we left No. 3, Lauriston Gardens.
Sherlock Holmes led me to the nearest telegraph office, whence
he dispatched a long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered
the driver to take us to the address given us by Lestrade.
"There is nothing like first-hand evidence," he remarked; "as
a matter of fact, my mind is entirely made up upon the case, but
still we may as well learn all that is to be learned."
"You amaze me, Holmes," said I. "Surely you are not as
sure as you pretend to be of all those particulars which you
"There's no room for a mistake," he answered. "The very
first thing which I observed on arriving there was that a cab had
made two ruts with its wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last
night, we have had no rain for a week, so that those wheels
which left such a deep impression must have been there during
the night. There were the marks of the horse's hoofs, too, the
outline of one of which was far more clearly cut than that of the
other three, showing that that was a new shoe. Since the cab was
there after the rain began, and was not there at any time during
the morning -- I have Gregson's word for that -- it follows that it
must have been there during the night, and therefore, that it
brought those two individuals to the house."
"That seems simple enough," said I; "but how about the
other man's height?"
"Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out of ten, can be
told from the length of his stride. It is a simple calculation
enough, though there is no use my boring you with figures. I had
this fellow's stride both on the clay outside and on the dust
within. Then I had a way of checking my calculation. When a
man writes on a wall, his instinct leads him to write above the
level of his own eyes. Now that writing was just over six feet
from the ground. It was child's play."
"And his age?" I asked.
"Well, if a man can stride four and a half feet without the
smallest effort, he can't be quite in the sere and yellow. That
was the breadth of a puddle on the garden walk which he had
evidently walked across. Patent-leather boots had gone round,
and Square-toes had hopped over. There is no mystery about it at
all. I am simply applying to ordinary life a few of those precepts
of observation and deduction which I advocated in that article. Is
there anything else that puzzles you?"
"The finger-nails and the Trichinopoly," I suggested.
"The writing on the wall was done with a man's forefinger
dipped in blood. My glass allowed me to observe that the plaster
was slightly scratched in doing it, which would not have been
the case if the man's nail had been trimmed. I gathered up some
scattered ash from the floor. It was dark in colour and flaky --
such an ash is only made by a Trichinopoly. I have made a
special study of cigar ashes -- in fact, I have written a monograph
upon the subject. I flatter myself that I can distinguish at a
glance the ash of any known brand either of cigar or of tobacco.
It is just in such details that the skilled detective differs from the
Gregson and Lestrade type."
"And the florid face?" I asked.
"Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I have no doubt that
I was right. You must not ask me that at the present state of the
I passed my hand over my brow. "My head is in a whirl," I
remarked; "the more one thinks of it the more mysterious it
grows. How came these two men -- if there were two men -- into
an empty house? What has become of the cabman who drove
them? How could one man compel another to take poison?
Where did the blood come from? What was the object of the
murderer, since robbery had no part in it? How came the wom-
an's ring there? Above all, why should the second man write up
the German word RACHE before decamping? I confess that I
cannot see any possible way of reconciling all these facts."
My companion smiled approvingly.
"You sum up the difficulties of the situation succinctly and
well," he said. "There is much that is still obscure, though I
have quite made up my mind on the main facts. As to poor
Lestrade's discovery, it was simply a blind intended to put the
police upon a wrong track, by suggesting Socialism and secret
societies. It was not done by a German. The A, if you noticed,
was printed somewhat after the German fashion. Now, a real
German invariably prints in the Latin character, so that we may
safely say that this was not written by one, but by a clumsy
imitator who overdid his part. It was simply a ruse to divert
inquiry into a wrong channel. I'm not going to tell you much
more of the case, Doctor. You know a conjurer gets no credit
when once he has explained his trick and if I show you too
much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion
that I am a very ordinary individual after all."
"I shall never do that," I answered; "you have brought
detection as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in
My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the
earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that
he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl
could be of her beauty.
"I'll tell you one other thing," he said. "Patent-leathers and
Square-toes came in the same cab, and they walked down the
pathway together as friendly as possible -- arm-in-arm, in all
probability. When they got inside, they walked up and down the
room -- or rather, Patent-leathers stood still while Square-toes
walked up and down. I could read all that in the dust; and I could
read that as he walked he grew more and more excited. That is
shown by the increased length of his strides. He was talking all
the while, and working himself up, no doubt, into a fury. Then
the tragedy occurred. I've told you all I know myself now, for
the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have a good working
basis, however, on which to start. We must hurry up, for I want
to go to Halle's concert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon."
This conversation had occurred while our cab had been thread-
ing its way through a long succession of dingy streets and dreary
byways. ln the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver suddenly
came to a stand. "That's Audley Court in there," he said,
pointing to a narrow slit in the line of dead-coloured brick.
"You'll find me here when you come back."
Audley Court was not an attractive locality. The narrow pas-
sage led us into a quadrangle paved with flags and lined by
sordid dwellings. We picked our way among groups of dirty
children, and through lines of discoloured linen, until we came
to Number 46, the door of which was decorated with a small slip
of brass on which the name Rance was engraved. On inquiry we
found that the constable was in bed, and we were shown into a
little front parlour to await his coming.
He appeared presently, looking a little irritable at being dis-
turbed in his slumbers. "I made my report at the office," he
Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with
it pensively. "We thought that we should like to hear it all from
your own lips," he said.
"I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can," the
constable answered, with his eyes upon the little golden disc.
"Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred."
Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knitted his brows
as though determined not to omit anything in his narrative.
"I'll tell it ye from the beginning," he said. "My time is from
ten at night to six in the morning. At eleven there was a fight at
the White Hart; but bar that all was quiet enough on the beat. At
one o'clock it began to rain, and I met Harry Murcher -- him who
has the Holland Grove beat -- and we stood together at the corner
of Henrietta Street a-talkin'. Presently -- maybe about two or a
little after -- I thought I would take a look round and see that all
was right down the Brixton Road. It was precious dirty and
lonely. Not a soul did I meet all the way down, though a cab or
two went past me. I was a-strollin' down, thinkin' between
ourselves how uncommon handy a four of gin hot would be,
when suddenly the glint of a light caught my eye in the window
of that same house. Now, I knew that them two houses in Lauriston
Gardens was empty on account of him that owns them who
won't have the drains seed to, though the very last tenant what
lived in one of them died o' typhoid fever. I was knocked all in a
heap, therefore, at seeing a light in the window, and I suspected
as something was wrong. When I got to the door --"
"You stopped, and then walked back to the garden gate," my
companion interrupted. "What did you do that for?"
Rance gave a violent jump, and stared at Sherlock Holmes
with the utmost amazement upon his features.
"Why, that's true, sir," he said; "though how you come to
know it, Heaven only knows. Ye see when I got up to the door,
it was so still and so lonesome, that I thought I'd be none the
worse for someone with me. I ain't afeared of anything on this
side o' the grave; but I thought that maybe it was him that died
o' the typhoid inspecting the drains what killed him. The thought
gave me a kind o' turn, and I walked back to the gate to see if I
could see Murcher's lantern, but there wasn't no sign of him nor
of anyone else."
"There was no one in the street?"
"Not a livin' soul, sir, nor as much as a dog. Then I pulled
myself together and went back and pushed the door open. All
was quiet inside, so I went into the room where the light was
a-burnin'. There was a candle flickerin' on the mantelpiece -- a
red wax one -- and by its light I saw --"
"Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked round the room
several times, and you knelt down by the body, and then you
walked through and tried the kitchen door, and then --"
John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened face and
suspicion in his eyes. "Where was you hid to see all that?" he
cried. "It seems to me that you knows a deal more than you
Holmes laughed and threw his card across the table to the
constable. "Don't go arresting me for the murder," he said. "I
am one of the hounds and not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr.
Lestrade will answer for that. Go on, though. What did you do
Rance resumed his seat, without, however, losing his mysti-
fied expression. "I went back to the gate and sounded my
whistle. That brought Murcher and two more to the spot."
"Was the street empty then?"
"Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be of any good
"What do you mean?"
The constable's features broadened into a grin, "I've seen
many a drunk chap in my time," he said, "but never anyone so
cryin' drunk as that cove. He was at the gate when I came out,
a-leanin' up ag'in the railings, and a-singin' at the pitch o' his
lungs about Columbine's New-fangled Banner, or some such
stuff. He couldn't stand, far less help."
"What sort of a man was he?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated at this digres-
sion. "He was an uncommon drunk sort o' man," he said.
"He'd ha' found hisself in the station if we hadn't been so took
"His face -- his dress -- didn't you notice them?" Holmes broke
"I should think I did notice them, seeing that I had to prop
him up -- me and Murcher between us. He was a long chap, with
a red face, the lower part muffled round --"
"That will do," cried Holmes. "What became of him?"
"We'd enough to do without lookin' after him," the police-
man said, in an aggrieved voice. "I'll wager he found his way
home all right."
"How was he dressed?"
"A brown overcoat."
"Had he a whip in his hand?"
"A whip -- no."
"He must have left it behind," muttered my companion.
"You didn't happen to see or hear a cab after that?"
"There's a half-sovereign for you," my companion said,
standing up and taking his hat. "I am afraid, Rance, that you
will never rise in the force. That head of yours should be for use
as well as ornament. You might have gained your sergeant's
stripes last night. The man whom you held in your hands is the
man who holds the clue of this mystery, and whom we are
seeking. There is no use of arguing about it now; I tell you that it
is so. Come along, Doctor."
We started off for rhe cab together, leaving our informant
incredulous, but obviously uncomfortable.
"The blundering fool!" Holmes said, bitterly, as we drove
back to our lodgings. "Just to think of his having such an
incomparable bit of good luck, and not taking advantage of it."
"I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the description of
this man tallies with your idea of the second party in this
mystery. But why should he come back to the house after
leaving it? That is not the way of criminals."
"The ring, man, the ring: that was what he came back for. If
we have no other way of catching him, we can always bait our
line with the ring. I shall have him, Doctor -- I'll lay you two to
one that I have him. I must thank you for it all. I might not have
gone but for you, and so have missed the finest study I ever
came across: a study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn't we use a little
art jargon. There's the scarlet thread of murder running through
the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and
isolate it, and expose every inch of it. And now for lunch, and
then for Norman Neruda. Her attack and her bowing are splen-
did. What's that little thing of Chopin's she plays so magnifi-
Leaning back in the cab, this amateur bloodhound carolled
away like a lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of
the human mind.
Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor
Our morning's exertions had been too much for my weak health,
and I was tired out in the afternoon. After Holmes's departure
for the concert, I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get
a couple of hours' sleep. It was a useless attempt. My mind had
been too much excited by all that had occurred, and the strangest
fancies and surmises crowded into it. Every time that I closed
my eyes I saw before me the distorted, baboon-like countenance
of the murdered man. So sinister was the impression which that
face had produced upon me that I found it difficult to feel
anything but gratitude for him who had removed its owner from
the world. If ever human features bespoke vice of the most
malignant type, they were certainly those of Enoch J. Drebber,
of Cleveland. Still I recognized that justice must be done, and
that the depravity of the victim was no condonement in the eyes
of the law.
The more I thought of it the more extraordinary did my
companion's hypothesis, that the man had been poisoned, ap-
pear. I remembered how he had sniffed his lips, and had no
doubt that he had detected something which had given rise to the
idea. Then, again, if not poison, what had caused the man's
death, since there was neither wound nor marks of strangulation?
But, on the otner hand, whose blood was that which lay so
thickly upon the floor? There were no signs of a struggle, nor
had the victim any weapon with which he might have wounded
an antagonist. As long as all these questions were unsolved, I
felt that sleep would be no easy matter, either for Holmes or
myself. His quiet, self-confident manner convinced me that he
had already formed a theory which explained all the facts,
though what it was I could not for an instant conjecture.
He was very late in returning -- so late that I knew that the
concert could not have detained him all the time. Dinner was on
the table before he appeared.
"It was magnificent," he said, as he took his seat. "Do you
remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the
power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human
race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that
is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague
memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world
was in its childhood."
"That's rather a broad idea," I remarked.
"One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to
interpret Nature," he answered. "What's the matter? You're not
looking quite yourself. This Brixton Road affair has upset you."
"To tell the truth, it has," I said. "I ought to be more
case-hardened after my Afghan experiences. I saw my own
comrades hacked to pieces at Maiwand without losing my nerve."
"I can understand. There is a mystery about this which stimu-
lates the imagination; where there is no imagination there is no
horror. Have you seen the evening paper?"
"It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It does not
mention the fact that when the man was raised up a woman's
wedding ring fell upon the floor. It is just as well it does not."
"Look at this advertisement," he answered. "I had one sent
to every paper this morning immediately after the affair."
He threw the paper across to me and I glanced at the place
indicated. It was the first announcement in the "Found" col-
umn. "In Brixton Road, this morning," it ran, "a plain gold
wedding ring, found in the roadway between the White Hart
Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply Dr. Watson, 221 B, Baker
Street, between eight and nine this evening."
"Excuse my using your name," he said. "If I used my own,
some of these dunderheads would recognize it, and want to
meddle in the affair."
"That is all right," I answered. "But supposing anyone ap-
plies, I have no ring."
"Oh, yes, you have," said he, handing me one. "This will do
very well. It is almost a facsimile."
"And who do you expect will answer this advertisement?"
"Why, the man in the brown coat -- our florid friend with the
square toes. If he does not come himself, he will send an
"Would he not consider it as too dangerous?"
"Not at all. If my view of the case is correct, and I have every
reason to believe that it is, this man would rather risk anything
than lose the ring. According to my notion he dropped it while
stooping over Drebber's body, and did not miss it at the time.
After leaving the house he discovered his loss and hurried back,
but found the police already in possession, owing to his own
folly in leaving the candle burning. He had to pretend to be
drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might have been
aroused by his appearance at the gate. Now put yourself in that
man's place. On thinking the matter over, it must have occurred
to him that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the road
after leaving the house. What would he do then? He would
eagerly look out for the evening papers in the hope of seeing it
among the articles found. His eye, of course, would light upon
this. He would be overjoyed. Why should he fear a trap? There
would be no reason in his eyes why the finding of the ring
should be connected with the murder. He would come. He will
come. You shall see him within an hour."
"And then?" I asked.
"Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then. Have you any
"I have my old service revolver and a few cartridges."
"You had better clean it and load it. He will be a desperate
man; and though I shall take him unawares, it is as well to be
ready for anything."
I went to my bedroom and followed his advice. When I
returned with the pistol, the table had been cleared, and Holmes
was engaged in his favourite occupation of scraping upon his
"The plot thickens," he said, as I entered; "I have just had an
answer to my American telegram. My view of the case is the
"And that is?" I asked eagerly.
"My fiddle would be the better for new strings," he re-
marked. "Put your pistol in your pocket. When the fellow
comes, speak to him in an ordinary way. Leave the rest to me.
Don't frighten him by looking at him too hard."
"It is eight o'clock now," I said, glancing at my watch.
"Yes. He will probably be here in a few minutes. Open the
door slightly. That will do. Now put the key on the inside.
Thank you! This is a queer old book I picked up at a stall
yesterday -- De Jure inter Gentes -- published in Latin at Liege in
the Lowlands, in 1642. Charles's head was still firm on his
shoulders when this little brown-backed volume was struck off."
"Who is the printer?"
"Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been. On the fly-
leaf, in very faded ink, is written 'Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte.' I
wonder who William Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth-
century lawyer, I suppose. His writing has a legal twist about it.
Here comes our man, I think."
As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell. Sherlock
Holmes rose softly and moved his chair in the direction of the
door. We heard the servant pass along the hall, and the sharp
click of the latch as she opened it.
"Does Dr. Watson live here?" asked a clear but rather harsh
voice. We could not hear the servant's reply, but the door
closed, and someone began to ascend the stairs. The footfall was
an uncertain and shuffling one. A look of surprise passed over
the face of my companion as he listened to it. It came slowly
along the passage, and there was a feeble tap at the door.
"Come in," I cried.
At my summons, instead of the man of violence whom we
expected, a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the
apartment. She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of
light, and after dropping a curtsey, she stood blinking at us with
her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous, shaky
fingers. I glanced at my companion, and his face had assumed
such a disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to keep
The old crone drew out an evening paper, and pointed at our
advertisement. "It's this as has brought me, good gentlemen,"
she said, dropping another curtsey; "a gold wedding ring in the
Brixton Road. It belongs to my girl Sally, as was married only
this time twelvemonth, which her husband is steward aboard a
Union boat, and what he'd say if he comes 'ome and found her
without her ring is more than I can think, he being short enough
at the best o' times, but more especially when he has the drink.
If it please you, she went to the circus last night along with --"
"Is that her ring?" I asked.
"The Lord be thanked!" cried the old woman; "Sally will be
a glad woman this night. That's the ring."
"And what may your address be?" I inquired, taking up a
"13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch. A weary way from here."
"The Brixton Road does not lie between any circus and
Houndsditch," said Sherlock Holmes sharply.
The old woman faced round and looked keenly at him from
her little red-rimmed eyes. "The gentleman asked me for my
address," she said. "Sally lives in lodgings at 3, Mayfield
"And your name is?"
"My name is Sawyer -- hers is Dennis, which Tom Dennis
married her -- and a smart, clean lad, too, as long as he's at sea,
and no steward in the company more thought of; but when on
shore, what with the women and what with liquor shops --"
"Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer," I interrupted, in obedience
to a sign from my companion; "it clearly belongs to your
daughter, and I am glad to be able to restore it to the rightful
With many mumbled blessings and protestations of gratitude
the old crone packed it away in her pocket, and shuffled off
down the stairs. Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment
that she was gone and rushed into his room. He returned in a few
seconds enveloped in an ulster and a cravat. "I'll follow her,"
he said, hurriedly; "she must be an accomplice, and will lead me
to him. Wait up for me." The hall door had hardly slammed
behind our visitor before Holmes had descended the stair. Look-
ing through the window I could see her walking feebly along the
other side, while her pursuer dogged her some little distance
behind. "Either his whole theory is incorrect," I thought to
myself, "or else he will be led now to the heart of the mystery."
There was no need for him to ask me to wait up for him, for I
felt that sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his
It was close upon nine when he set out. I had no idea how
long he might be, but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and
skipping over the pages of Henri Murger's Vie de Boheme. Ten
o'clock passed, and I heard the footsteps of the maid as she
pattered off to bed. Eleven, and the more stately tread of the
landlady passed my door, bound for the same destination. It was
close upon twelve before I heard the sharp sound of his latchkey.
The instant he entered I saw by his face that he had not been
successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be struggling for
the mastery, until the former suddenly carried the day, and he
burst into a hearty laugh.
"I wouldn't have the Scotland Yarders know it for the world,"
he cried, dropping into his chair; "I have chaffed them so much
that they would never have let me hear the end of it. I can afford
to laugh, because I know that I will be even with them in the
"What is it then?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't mind telling a story against myself. That creature
had gone a little way when she began to limp and show every
sign of being footsore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a
four-wheeler which was passing. I managed to be close to her so
as to hear the address, but I need not have been so anxious, for
she sang it out loud enough to be heard at the other side of the
street, 'Drive to 13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch,' she cried.
This begins to look genuine, I thought, and having seen her
safely inside, I perched myself behind. That's an art which every
detective should be an expert at. Well, away we rattled, and
never drew rein until we reached the street in question. I hopped
off before we came to the door, and strolled down the street in
an easy, lounging way. I saw the cab pull up. The driver jumped
down, and I saw him open the door and stand expectantly.
Nothing came out though. When I reached him, he was groping
about frantically in the empty cab, and giving vent to the finest
assorted collection of oaths that ever I listened to. There was no
sign or trace of his passenger, and I fear it will be some time
before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Number 13 we found that
the house belonged to a respeetable paperhanger, named Keswick,
and that no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had ever
been heard of there."
"You don't mean to say," I cried, in amazement, "that that
tottering, feeble old woman was able to get out of the cab while
it was in motion, without either you or the driver seeing her?"
"Old woman be damned!" said Sherlock Holmes, sharply.
"We were the old women to be so taken in. It must have been a
young man, and an active one, too, besides being an incompara-
ble actor. The get-up was inimitable. He saw that he was fol-
lowed, no doubt, and used this means of giving me the slip. It
shows that the man we are after is not as lonely as I imagined he
was, but has friends who are ready to risk something for him.
Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take my advice and turn
I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed his injunction.
I left Holmes seated in front of the smouldering fire, and long
into the watches of the night I heard the low melancholy wailings
of his violin, and knew that he was still pondering over the
strange problem which he had set himself to unravel.
Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do
The papers next day were full of the "Brixton Mystery," as they
termed it. Each had a long account of the affair, and some had
leaders upon it in addition. There was some information in them
which was new to me. I still retain in my scrapbook numerous
clippings and extracts bearing upon the case. Here is a condensa-
tion of a few of them:
The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history of crime
there had seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger
features. The German name of the victim, the absence of all
other motive, and the sinister inscription on the wall, all pointed
to its perpetration by political refugees and revolutionists. The
Socialists had many branches in America, and the deceased had
no doubt, infringed their unwritten laws, and been tracked down
by them. After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht, aqua tofana,
Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, the Darwinian theory,
the principles of Malthus, and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the
article concluded by admonishing the government and advocating
a closer watch over foreigners in England.
The Standard commented upon the fact that lawless outrages
of the sort usually occurred under a Liberal administration. They
arose from the unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the
consequent weakening of all authority. The deceased was an
American gentleman who had been residing for some weeks in
the metropolis. He had stayed at the boarding-house of Madame
Charpentier, in Torquay Terrace, Camberwell. He was accompa-
nied in his travels by his private secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson.
The two bade adieu to their landlady upon Tuesday, the 4th
inst., and departed to Euston Station with the avowed intention
of catching the Liverpool express. They were afterwards seen
together upon the platform. Nothing more is known of them until
Mr. Drebber's body was, as recorded, discovered in an empty
house in the Brixton Road, many miles from Euston. How he
came there, or how he met his fate, are questions which are still
involved in mystery. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of
Stangerson. We are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and Mr.
Gregson, of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the case, and
it is confidently anticipated that these well-known officers will
speedily throw light upon the matter.
The Daily News observed that there was no doubt as to the
crime being a political one. The despotism and hatred of Liberal-
ism which animated the Continental governments had had the
effect of driving to our shores a number of men who might have
made excellent citizens were they not soured by the recollection
of all that they had undergone. Among these men there was a
stringent code of honour, any infringement of which was pun-
ished by death. Every effort should be made to find the secretary,
Stangerson, and to ascertain some particulars of the habits of
the deceased. A great step had been gained by the discovery of
the address of the house at which he had boarded -- a result
which was entirely due to the acuteness and energy of Mr.
Gregson of Scotland Yard.
Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over together at
breakfast, and they appeared to afford him considerable amusement.
"I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade and Gregson
would be sure to score."
"That depends on how it turns out."
"Oh, bless you, it doesn't matter in the least. If the man is
caught, it will be on account of their exertions; if he escapes, it
will be in spite of their exertions. It's heads I win and tails you
lose. Whatever they do, they will have followers. 'Un sot trouve
toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.' "
"What on earth is this?" I cried, for at this moment there
came the pattering of many steps in the hall and on the stairs,
accompanied by audible expressions of disgust upon the part of
"It's the Baker Street division of the detective police force,"
said my companion gravely; and as he spoke there rushed into
the room half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street
Arabs that ever I clapped eyes on.
" 'Tention!" cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and the six dirty
little scoundrels stood in a line like so many disreputable statu-
ettes. "In future you shall send up Wiggins alone to report, and
the rest of you must wait in the street. Have you found it,
"No, sir, we hain't," said one of the youths.
"I hardly expected you would. You must keep on until you
do. Here are your wages." He handed each of them a shilling.
"Now, off you go, and come back with a better report next
He waved his hand, and they scampered away downstairs like
so many rats, and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the
"There's more work to be got out of one of those little
beggars than out of a dozen of the force," Holmes remarked.
"The mere sight of an official-looking person seals men's lips.
These youngsters, however, go everywhere and hear everything.
They are as sharp as needles, too; all they want is organization."
"Is it on this Brixton case that you are employing them?" I
"Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. It is merely a
matter of time. Hullo! we are going to hear some news now with
a vengeance! Here is Gregson coming down the road with beati-
tude written upon every feature of his face. Bound for us, I
know. Yes, he is stopping. There he is!"
There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a few seconds the
fair-haired detective came up the stairs, three steps at a time, and
burst into our sitting-room.
"My dear fellow," he cried, wringing Holmes's unresponsive
hand, "congratulate me! I have made the whole thing as clear as
A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companion's
"Do you mean that you are on the right track?" he asked.
"The right track! Why, sir, we have the man under lock and
"And his name is?"
"Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her Majesty's navy,"
cried Gregson pompously rubbing his fat hands and inflating his
Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief and relaxed into a
"Take a seat, and try one of these cigars," he said. "We are
anxious to know how you managed it. Will you have some
whisky and water?"
"I don't mind if I do," the detective answered. "The tremen-
dous exertions which I have gone through during the last day or
two have worn me out. Not so much bodily exertion, you
understand, as the strain upon the mind. You will appreciate
that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both brain-workers."
"You do me too much honour," said Holmes, gravely. "Let
us hear how you arrived at this most gratifying result."
The detective seated himself in the armchair, and puffed com-
placently at his cigar. Then suddenly he slapped his thigh in a
paroxysm of amusement.
"The fun of it is," he cried, "that that fool Lestrade, who
thinks himself so smart, has gone off upon the wrong track
altogether. He is after the secretary Stangerson, who had no
more to do with the crime than the babe unborn. I have no doubt
that he has caught him by this time."
The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he
"And how did you get your clue?"
"Ah, I'll tell you all about it. Of course, Dr. Watson, this is
strictly between ourselves. The first difficulty which we had to
contend with was the finding of this American's antecedents.
Some people would have waited until their advertisements were
answered, or until parties came forward and volunteered infor-
mation. That is not Tobias Gregson's way of going to work. You
remember the hat beside the dead man?"
"Yes," said Holmes; "by John Underwood and Sons, 129,
Gregson looked quite crestfallen.
"I had no idea that you noticed that," he said. "Have you
"Ha!" cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; "you should never
neglect a chance, however small it may seem."
"To a great mind, nothing is little," remarked Holmes,
"Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him if he had sold a
hat of that size and description. He looked over his books, and
came on it at once. He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber,
residing at Charpentier's Boarding Establishment, Torquay Ter-
race. Thus I got at his address."
"Smart, -- very smart!" murmured Sherlock Holmes.
"I next called upon Madame Charpentier," continued the
detective. "I found her very pale and distressed. Her daughter
was in the room, too -- an uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she
was looking red about the eyes and her lips trembled as I spoke
to her. That didn't escape my notice. I began to smell a rat. You
know the feeling, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon
the right scent -- a kind of thrill in your nerves. 'Have you heard
of the mysterious death of your late boarder Mr. Enoch J.
Drebber, of Cleveland?' I asked.
"The mother nodded. She didn't seem able to get out a word.
The daughter burst into tears. I felt more than ever that these
people knew something of the matter.
" 'At what o'clock did Mr. Drebber leave your house for the
train?' I alsked.
" 'At eight o'clock,' she said, gulping in her throat to keep
down her agitation. 'His secretary, Mr. Stangerson, said that
there were two trains -- one at 9:15 and one at 11. He was to
catch the lfirst.'
" 'And was that the last which you saw of him?'
"A terible change came over the woman's face as I asked the
question. Her features turned perfectly livid. It was some sec-
onds before she could get out the single word 'Yes' -- and when
it did come it was in a husky, unnatural tone.
"There was silence for a moment, and then the daughter
spoke in a calm, clear voice.
" 'No good can ever come of falsehood, mother,' she said.
'Let us be frank with this gentleman. We did see Mr. Drebber
" 'God forgive you!' cried Madame Charpentier, throwing up
her hands and sinking back in her chair. 'You have murdered
" 'Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,' the girl
" 'Yqu had best tell me all about it now,' I said. 'Half-
confidences are worse than none. Besides, you do not know how
much we know of it.'
" 'On your head be it, Alice!' cried her mother; and then
turning to me, 'I will tell you all, sir. Do not imagine that my
agitation on behalf of my son arises from any fear lest he should
have had a hand in this terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of
it. My dread is, however, that in your eyes and in the eyes of
others he may appear to be compromised. That, however, is
surely impossible. His high character, his profession, his ante-
cedents would all forbid it.'
" 'Your best way is to make a clean breast of the facts,' I
answered. 'Depend upon it, if your son is innocent he will be
none the worse.'
" 'Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us together,' she said,
and her daughter withdrew. 'Now, sir,' she continued, 'I had no
intention of telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has
disclosed it I have no alternative. Having once decided to speak,
I will tell you all without omitting any particular.'
" 'It is your wisest course,' said I.
" 'Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks. He and
his secretary, Mr. Stangerson, had been travelling on the Conti-
nent. I noticed a Copenhagen label upon each of their trunks,
showing that that had been their last stopping place. Stangerson
was a quiet, reserved man, but his employer, I am sorry to say,
was far otherwise. He was coarse in his habits and brutish in his
ways. The very night of his arrival he became very much the
worse for drink, and, indeed, after twelve o'clock in the day he
could hardly ever be said to be sober. His manners towards the
maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar. Worst of all,
he speedily assumed the same attitude towards my daughter,
Alice, and spoke to her more than once in a way which, fortu-
nately, she is too innocent to understand. On one occasion he
actually seized her in his arms and embraced her -- an outrage
which caused his own secretary to reproach him for his unmanly
" 'But why did you stand all this?' I asked. 'I suppose that
you can get rid of your boarders when you wish.'
"Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question. 'Would
to God that I had given him notice on the very day that he
came,' she said. 'But it was a sore temptation. They were paying
a pound a day each -- fourteen pounds a week, and this is the
slack season. I am a widow, and my boy in the Navy has cost
me much. I grudged to lose the money. I acted for the best. This
last was too much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on
account of it. That was the reason of his going.'
" 'My heart grew light when I saw him drive away. My son is
on leave just now, but I did not tell him anything of all this, for
his temper is violent, and he is passionately fond of his sister.
When I closed the door behind them a load seemed to be lifted
from my mind. Alas, in less than an hour there was a ring at the
bell, and I learned that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much
excited, and evidently the worse for drink. He forced his way
into the room, where I was sitting with my daughter, and made
some incoherent remark about having missed his train. He then
turned to Alice, and before my very face, proposed to her that
she should fly with him. "You are of age," he said, "and there
is no law to stop you. I have money enough and to spare. Never
mind the old girl here, but come along with me now straight
away. You shall live like a princess." Poor Alice was so fright-
ened that she shrunk away from him, but he caught her by the
wrist and endeavoured to draw her towards the door. I screamed,
and at that moment my son Arthur came into the room. What
happened then I do not know. I heard oaths and the confused
sounds of a scuffle. I was too terrified to raise my head. When I
did look up I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing, with
a stick in his hand. "I don't think that fine fellow will trouble us
again," he said. "I will just go after him and see what he does
with himself." With those words he took his hat and started off
down the street. The next morning we heard of Mr. Drebber's
"This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier's lips with many
gasps and pauses. At times she spoke so low that I could hardly
catch the words. I made shorthand notes of all that she said
however, so that there should be no possibility of a mistake."
"It's quite exciting," said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn.
"What happened next?"
"When Mrs. Charpentier paused," the detective continued,
"I saw that the whole case hung upon one point. Fixing her with
my eye in a way which I always found effective with women, I
asked her at what hour her son returned.
" 'I do not know,' she answered.
" 'Not know?'
" 'No; he has a latchkey, and he let himself in.'
" 'After you went to bed?'
" 'When did you go to bed?'
" 'About eleven.'
" 'So your son was gone at least two hours?'
" 'Possibly four or five?'
" 'What was he doing during that time?'
" 'I do not know,' she answered, turning white to her very
"Of course after that there was nothing more to be done. I
found out where Lieutenant Charpentier was, took two officers
with me, and arrested him. When I touched him on the shoulder
and warned him to come quietly with us, he answered us as bold
as brass, 'I suppose you are arresting me for being concerned in
the death of that scoundrel Drebber,' he said. We had said
nothing to him about it, so that his alluding to it had a most
"Very," said Holmes.
"He still carried the heavy stick which the mother described
him as having with him when he followed Drebber. It was a
stout oak cudgel."
"What is your theory, then?"
"Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as the
Brixton Road. When there, a fresh altercation arose between
them, in the course of which Drebber received a blow from the
stick, in the pit of the stomach perhaps, which killed him without
leaving any mark. The night was so wet that no one was about,
so Charpentier dragged the body of his victim into the empty
house. As to the candle, and the blood, and the writing on the
wall, and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to throw the
police on to the wrong scent."
"Well done!" said Holmes in an encouraging voice. "Really,
Gregson, you are getting along. We shall make something of you
"I flatter myself that I have managed it rather neatly," the
detective answered, proudly. "The young man volunteered a
statement, in which he said that after following Drebber some
time, the latter perceived him, and took a cab in order to get
away from him. On his way home he met an old shipmate, and
took a long walk with him. On being asked where this old
shipmate lived, he was unable to give any satisfactory reply. I
think the whole case fits together uncommonly well. What amuses
me is to think of Lestrade, who had started off upon the wrong
scent. I am afraid he won't make much of it. Why, by Jove,
here's the very man himself!"
It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the stairs while we
were talking, and who now entered the room. The assurance and
jauntiness which generally marked his demeanour and dress
were, however, wanting. His face was disturbed and troubled,
while his clothes were disarranged and untidy. He had evidently
come with the intention of consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for
on perceiving his colleague he appeared to be embarrassed and
put out. He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling nervously
with his hat and uncertain what to do. "This is a most extraordi-
nary case," he said at last -- "a most incomprehensible affair."
"Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!" cried Gregson, trium-
phantly. "I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have
you managed to find the secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?"
"The secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson," said Lestrade, gravely,
"was murdered at Halliday's Private Hotel about six o'clock this
Light in the Darkness
The intelligence with which Lestrade greeted us was so momen-
tous and so unexpected that we were all three fairly dumfounded.
Gregson sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of his
whisky and water. I stared in silence at Sherlock Holmes, whose
lips were compressed and his brows drawn down over his eyes.
"Stangerson too!" he muttered. "The plot thickens."
"It was quite thick enough before," grumbled Lestrade, tak-
ing a chair, "I seem to have dropped into a sort of council of
"Are you -- are you sure of this piece of intelligence?" stam-
"I have just come from his room," said Lestrade. "I was the
first to discover what had occurred."
"We have been hearing Gregson's view of the matter," Holmes
observed. "Would you mind letting us know what you have seen
"I have no objection," Lestrade answered, seating himself.
"I freely confess that I was of the opinion that Stangerson was
concerned in the death of Drebber. This fresh development has
shown me that I was completely mistaken. Full of the one idea, I
set myself to find out what had become of the secretary. They
had been seen together at Euston Station about half-past eight on
the evening of the 3rd. At two in the morning Drebber had been
found in the Brixton Road. The question which confronted me
was to find out how Stangerson had been employed between
8:30 and the time of the crime, and what had become of him
afterwards. I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description of
the man, and warning them to keep a watch upon the American
boats. I then set to work calling upon all the hotels and lodging-
houses in the vicinity of Euston. You see, I argued that if
Drebber and his companion had become separated, the natural
course for the latter would be to put up somewhere in the vicinity
for the night, and then to hang about the station again next
"They would be likely to agree on some meeting place be-
forehand," remarked Holmes.
"So it proved. I spent the whole of yesterday evening in
making inquiries entirely without avail. This morning I began
very early, and at eight o'clock I reached Halliday's Private
Hotel, in Little George Street. On my inquiry as to whether a
Mr. Stangerson was living there, they at once answered me in
" 'No doubt you are the gentleman whom he was expecting,'
they said. 'He has been waiting for a gentleman for two days.'
" 'Where is he now?' I asked.
" 'He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called at nine.'
" 'I will go up and see him at once,' I said.
"It seemed to me that my sudden appearance might shake his
nerves and lead him to say something unguarded. The boots
volunteered to show me the room: it was on the second floor
and there was a small corridor leading up to it. The boots pointed
out the door to me, and was about to go downstairs again when I
saw something that made me feel sickish, in spite of my twenty
years' experience. From under the door there curled a little red
ribbon of blood, which had meandered across the passage and
formed a little pool along the skirting at the other side. I gave a
cry, which brought the boots back. He nearly fainted when he
saw it. The door was locked on the inside, but we put our
shoulders to it, and knocked it in. The window of the room was
open, and beside the window, all huddled up, lay the body of a
man in his nightdress. He was quite dead, and had been for some
time, for his limbs were rigid and cold. When we turned him
over, the boots recognized him at once as being the same gentle-
man who had engaged the room under the name of Joseph
Stangerson. The cause of death was a deep stab in the left side,
which must have penetrated the heart. And now comes the
strangest part of the affair. What do you suppose was above the
I felt a creeping of the flesh, and a presentiment of coming
horror, even before Sherock Holmes answered.
"The word RACHE, written in letters of blood," he said,
"That was it," said Lestrade, in an awestruck voice, and we
were all silent for a while.
There was something so methodical and so incomprehensible
about the deeds of this unknown assassin, that it imparted a fresh
ghastliness to his crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough
on the field of battle, tingled as I thought of it.
"The man was seen," continued Lestrade. "A milk boy,
passing on his way to the dairy, happened to walk down the lane
which leads from the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed
that a ladder, which usually lay there, was raised against one of
the windows of the second floor, which was wide open. After
passing, he looked back and saw a man descend the ladder. He
came down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined him to
be some carpenter or joiner at work in the hotel. He took no
particular notice of him, beyond thinking in his own mind that it
was early for him to be at work. He has an impression that the
man was tall, had a reddish face, and was dressed in a long,
brownish coat. He must have stayed in the room some little time
after the murder, for we found blood-stained water in the basin,
where he had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets where
he had deliberately wiped his knife."
I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer
which tallied so exactly with his own. There was, however, no
trace of exultation or satisfaction upon his face.
"Did you find nothing in the room which could furnish a clue
to the murderer?" he asked.
"Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber's purse in his pocket, but
it seems that this was usual, as he did all the paying. There was
eighty-odd pounds in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever
the motives of these extraordinary crimes, robbery is certainly
not one of them. There were no papers or memoranda in the
murdered man's pocket, except a single telegram, dated from
Cleveland about a month ago, and containing the words, 'J. H.
is in Europe.' There was no name appended to this message."
"And there was nothing else?" Holmes asked.
"Nothing of any importance. The man's novel, with which he
had read himself to sleep, was lying upon the bed, and his pipe
was on a chair beside him. There was a glass of water on the
table, and on the window-sill a small chip ointment box contain-
ing a couple of pills."
Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an exclamation of
"The last link," he cried, exultantly. "My case is complete."
The two detectives stared at him in amazement.
"I have now in my hands," my companion said, confidently,
"all the threads which have formed such a tangle. There are, of
course, details to be filled in, but I am as certain of all the main
facts, from the time that Drebber parted from Stangerson at the
station, up to the discovery of the body of the latter, as if I had
seen them with my own eyes. I will give you a proof of my
knowledge. Could you lay your hand upon those pills?"
"I have them," said Lestrade, producing a small white box;
"I took them and the purse and the telegram, intending to have
them put in a place of safety at the police station. It was the
merest chance my taking these pills, for I am bound to say that I
do not attach any importance to them."
"Give them here," said Holmes. "Now, Doctor," turning to
me, "are those ordinary pills?"
They certainly were not. They were of a pearly gray colour,
small, round, and almost transparent against the light. "From
their lightness and transparency, I should imagine that they are
soluble in water," I remarked.
"Precisely so," answered Holmes. "Now would you mind
going down and fetching that poor little devil of a terrier which
has been bad so long, and which the landlady wanted you to put
out of its pain yesterday?"
I went downstairs and carried the dog upstairs in my arms. Its
laboured breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not far
from its end. Indeed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it
had already exceeded the usual term of canine existence. I placed
it upon a cushion on the rug.
"I will now cut one of these pills in two," said Holmes, and
drawing his penknife he suited the action to the word. "One half
we return into the box for future purposes. The other half I will
place in this wineglass, in which is a teaspoonful of water. You
perceive that our friend, the doctor, is right, and that it readily
"This may be very interesting," said Lestrade, in the injured
tone of one who suspects that he is being laughed at; "I cannot
see, however, what it has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph
"Patience, my friend, patience! You will find in time that it
has everything to do with it. I shall now add a little milk to make
the mixture palatable, and on presenting it to the dog we find
that he laps it up readily enough."
As he spoke he turned the contents of the wineglass into a
saucer and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it
dry. Sherlock Holmes's earnest demeanour had so far convinced
us that we all sat in silence, watching the animal intently, and
expecting some startling effect. None such appeared, however.
The dog continued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in
a laboured way, but apparently neither the better nor the worse
for its draught.
Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute followed
minute without result, an expression of the utmost chagrin and
disappointment appeared upon his features. He gnawed his lip,
drummed his fingers upon the table, and showed every other
symptom of acute impatience. So great was his emotion that I
felt sincerely sorry for him, while the two detectives smiled
derisively, by no means displeased at this check which he had
"It can't be a coincidence," he cried, at last springing from
his chair and pacing wildly up and down the room; "it is
impossible that it should be, a mere coincidence. The very pills
which I suspected in the case of Drebber are actually found after
the death of Stangerson. And yet they are inert. What can it
mean? Surely my whole chain of reasoning cannot have been
false. It is impossible! And yet this wretched dog is none the
worse. Ah, I have it! I have it!" With a perfect shriek of delight
he rushed to the box, cut the other pill in two, dissolved it,
added milk, and presented it to the terrier. The unfortunate
creature's tongue seemed hardly to have been moistened in it
before it gave a convulsive shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid
and lifeless as if it had been struck by lightning.
Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and wiped the perspira-
tion from his forehead. "I should have more faith," he said; "I
ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be
opposed to a long train of deductions, it invariably proves to be
capable of bearing some other interpretation. Of the two pills in
that box, one was of the most deadly poison, and the other was
entirely harmless. I ought to have known that before ever I saw
the box at all."
This last statement appeared to me to be so startling that I
could hardly believe that he was in his sober senses. There was
the dead dog, however, to prove that his conjecture had been
correct. It seemed to me that the mists in my own mind were
gradually clearing away, and I began to have a dim, vague
perception of the truth.
"All this seems strange to you," continued Holmes, "because
you failed at the beginning of the inquiry to grasp the importance
of the single real clue which was presented to you. I had the
good fortune to seize upon that, and everything which has oc-
curred since then has served to confirm my original supposition,
and, indeed, was the logical sequence of it. Hence things which
have perplexed you and made the case more obscure have served
to enlighten me and to strengthen my conclusions. It is a mistake
to confound strangeness with mystery. The most commonplace
crime is often the most mysterious, because it presents no new or
special features from which deductions may be drawn. This
murder would have been infinitely more difficult to unravel had
the body of the victim been simply found lying in the roadway
without any of those outre and sensational accompaniments which
have rendered it remarkable. These strange details, far from
making the case more difficult, have really had the effect of
making it less so."
Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address with consider-
able impatience, could contain himself no longer. "Look here,
Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said, "we are all ready to acknowl-
edge that you are a smart man, and that you have your own
methods of working. We want something more than mere theory
and preaching now, though. It is a case of taking the man. I have
made my case out, and it seems I was wrong. Young Charpentier
could not have been engaged in this second affair. Lestrade went
after his man, Stangerson, and it appears that he was wrong too.
You have thrown out hints here, and hints there, and seem to
know more than we do, but the time has come when we feel that
we have a right to ask you straight how much you do know of
the business. Can you name the man who did it?"
"I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right, sir," remarked
Lestrade. "We have both tried, and we have both failed. You
have remarked more than once since I have been in the room that
you had all the evidence which you require. Surely you will not
withhold it any longer."
"Any delay in arresting the assassin," I observed, "might
give him time to perpetrate some fresh atrocity."
Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of irresolution.
He continued to walk up and down the room with his head sunk
on his chest and his brows drawn down, as was his habit when
lost in thought.
"There will be no more murders," he said at last, stopping
abruptly and facing us. "You can put that consideration out of
the question. You have asked me if I know the name of the
assassin. I do. The mere knowing of his name is a small thing,
however, compared with the power of laying our hands upon
him. This I expect very shortly to do. I have good hopes of
managing it through my own arrangements; but it is a thing
which needs delicate handling, for we have a shrewd and desper-
ate man to deal with, who is supported, as I have had occasion to
prove, by another who is as clever as himself. As long as this
man has no idea that anyone can have a clue there is some
chance of securing him- but if he had the slightest suspicion, he
would change his name, and vanish in an instant among the four
million inhabitants of this great city. Without meaning to hurt
either of your feelings, I am bound to say that T consider these
men to be more than a match for the official force, and that is
why I have not asked your assistance. If I fail, I shall, of course,
incur all the blame due to this omission; but that I am prepared
for. At present I am ready to promise that the instant that I can
communicate with you without endangering my own combina-
tions, I shall do so."
Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from satisfied by this
assurance, or by the depreciating allusion to the detective police.
The former had flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair, while
the other's beady eyes glistened with curiosity and resentment.
Neither of them had time to speak, however, before there was a
tap at the door, and the spokesman of the street Arabs, young
Wiggins, introduced his insignificant and unsavoury person.
"Please, sir," he said, touching his forelock, "I have the cab
"Good boy," said Holmes, blandly. "Why don't you intro-
duce this pattern at Scotland Yard?" he continued, taking a pair
of steel handcuffs from a drawer. "See how beautifully the
spring works. They fasten in an instant."
"The old pattern is good enough," remarked Lestrade, "if we
can only find the man to put them on."
"Very good, very good," said Holmes, smiling. "The cab-
man may as well help me with my boxes. Just ask him to step
I was surprised to find my companion speaking as though he
were about to set out on a journey, since he had not said
anything to me about it. There was a small portmanteau in the
room, and this he pulled out and began to strap. He was busily
engaged at it when the cabman entered the room.
"Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman," he said,
kneeling over his task, and never turning his head.
The fellow came forward with a somewhat sullen, defiant air,
and put down his hands to assist. At that instant there was a
sharp click, the jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang
to his feet again.
"Gentlemen," he cried, with flashing eyes, "let me introduce
you to Mr. Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch Drebber and
of Joseph Stangerson."
The whole thing occurred in a moment -- so quickly that I had
no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of
Holmes's triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the
cabman's dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering
handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists.
For a second or two we might have been a group of statues.
Then with an inarticulate roar of fury, the prisoner wrenched
himself free from Holmes's grasp, and hurled himself through
the window. Woodwork and glass gave way before him; but
before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes
sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back
into the room, and then commenced a terrific conflict. So power-
ful and so fierce was he that the four of us were shaken off again
and again. He appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man
in an epileptic fit. His face and hands were terribly mangled by
his passage through the glass, but loss of blood had no effect in
diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in
getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that
we made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even
then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as
his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting.
"We have his cab," said Sherlock Holmes. "It will serve to
take him to Scotland Yard. And now, gentlemen," he continued,
with a pleasant smile, "we have reached the end of our little
mystery. You are very welcome to put any questions that you
like to me now, and there is no danger that I will refuse to
The Country of the Saints
On the Great Alkali Plain
In the central portion of the great North American Continent
there lies an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long
year served as a barrier against the advance of civilization. From
the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River
in the north to the Colorado upon the south, is a region of
desolation and silence. Nor is Nature always in one mood through-
out this grim district. It comprises snow-capped and lofty moun-
tains, and dark and gloomy valleys. There are swift-flowing
rivers which dash through jagged canons; and there are enormous
plains, which in winter are white with snow, and in summer are
gray with the saline alkali dust. They all preserve, however, the
common characteristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery.
There are no inhabitants of this land of despair. A band of
Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order to
reach other hunting-grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are
glad to lose sight of those awesome plains, and to find them-
selves once more upon their prairies. The coyote skulks among
the scrub, the buzzard flaps heavily through the air, and the
clumsy grizzly bear lumbers through the dark ravines, and picks
up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks. These are the
sole dwellers in the wilderness.
In the whole world there can be no more dreary view than that
from the northern slope of the Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye
can reach stretches the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with
patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the dwarfish
chaparral bushes. On the extreme verge of the horizon lie a long
chain of mountain peaks, with their rugged summits flecked with
snow. In this great stretch of country there is no sign of life, nor
of anything appertaining to life. There is no bird in the steel-blue
heaven, no movement upon the dull, gray earth -- above all, there
is absolute silence. Listen as one may, there is no shadow of a
sound in all that mighty wilderness; nothing but silence -- complete
and heart-subduing silence.
It has been said there is nothing appertaining to life upon the
broad plain. That is hardly true. Looking down from the Sierra
Blanco, one sees a pathway traced out across the desert, which
winds away and is lost in the extreme distance. It is rutted with
wheels and trodden down by the feet of many adventurers. Here
and there there are scattered white objects which glisten in the
sun, and stand out against the dull deposit of alkali. Approach,
and examine them! They are bones: some large and coarse,
others smaller and more delicate. The former have belonged to
oxen, and the latter to men. For fifteen hundred miles one may
trace this ghastly caravan route by these scattered remains of
those who had fallen by the wayside.
Looking down on this very scene, there stood upon the fourth
of May, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, a solitary traveller.
His appearance was such that he might have been the very genius
or demon of the region. An observer would have found it
difficult to say whether he was nearer to forty or to sixty. His
face was lean and haggard, and the brown parchment-like skin
was drawn tightly over the projecting bones; his long, brown hair
and beard were all flecked and dashed with white; his eyes were
sunken in his head, and burned with an unnatural lustre; while
the hand which grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy than that
of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned upon his weapon for
support, and yet his tall figure and the massive framework of his
bones suggested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt
face, however, and his clothes, which hung so baggily over his
shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it was that gave him that
senile and decrepit appearance. The man was dying -- dying from
hunger and from thirst.
He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and on to this little
elevation, in the vain hope of seeing some signs of water. Now
the great salt plain stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt
of savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of plant or tree,
which might indicate the presence of moisture. In all that broad
landscape there was no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west
he looked with wild, questioning eyes, and then he realized that
his wanderings had come to an end, and that there, on that
barren crag, he was about to die. "Why not here, as well as in a
feather bed, twenty years hence?" he muttered, as he seated
himself in the shelter of a boulder.
Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the ground his
useless rifle, and also a large bundle tied up in a gray shawl,
which he had carried slung over his right shoulder. It appeared to
be somewhat too heavy for his strength, for in lowering it, it
came down on the ground with some little violence. Instantly
there broke from the gray parcel a little moaning cry, and from it
there protruded a small, scared face, with very bright brown
eyes, and two little speckled dimpled fists.
"You've hurt me!" said a childish voice, reproachfully.
"Have I, though?" the man answered penitently; "I didn't go
for to do it." As he spoke he unwrapped the gray shawl and
extricated a pretty little girl of about five years of age, whose
dainty shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen apron, all
bespoke a mother's care. The child was pale and wan, but her
healthy arms and legs showed that she had suffered less than her
"How is it now?" he answered anxiously, for she was still
rubbing the tousy golden curls which covered the back of her
"Kiss it and make it well," she said, with perfect gravity,
showing the injured part up to him. "That's what mother used to
do. Where's mother?"
"Mother's gone. I guess you'll see her before long."
"Gone, eh!" said the little girl. "Funny, she didn't say
good-bye; she most always did if she was just goin' over to
auntie's for tea, and now she's been away three days. Say, it's
awful dry, ain't it? Ain't there no water nor nothing to eat?"
"No, there ain't nothing, dearie. You'll just need to be patient
awhile, and then you'll be all right. Put your head up ag'in me
like that, and then you'll feel bullier. It ain't easy to talk when
your lips is like leather, but I guess I'd best let you know how
the cards lie. What's that you've got?"
"Pretty things! fine things!" cried the little girl enthusiasti-
cally, holding up two glittering fragments of mica. "When we
goes back to home I'll give them to brother Bob."
"You'll see prettier things than them soon," said the man
confidently. "You just wait a bit. I was going to tell you
though -- you remember when we left the river?"
"Well, we reckoned we'd strike another river soon, d'ye see.
But there was somethin' wrong; compasses, or map, or somethin',
and it didn't turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop for
the likes of you, and -- and --"
"And you couldn't wash yourself," interrupted his companion
gravely, staring up at his grimy visage.
"No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the fust to go, and
then Indian Pete, and then Mrs. McGregor, and then Johnny
Hones, and then, dearie, your mother."
"Then mother's a deader too," cried the little girl, dropping
her face in her pinafore and sobbing bitterly.
"Yes, they all went except you and me. Then I thought there
was some chance of water in this direction, so l heaved you over
my shoulder and we tramped it together. It don't seem as though
we've improved matters. There's an almighty small chance for
"Do you mean that we are going to die to?" asked the child,
checking her sobs, and raising her tear-stained face.
"I guess that's about the size of it."
"Why didn't you say so before?" she said, laughing glee-
fully. "You gave me such a fright. Why, of course, now as long
as we die we'll be with mother again."
"Yes, you will, dearie."
"And you too. I'll tell her how awful good you've been. I'll
bet she meets us at the door of heaven with a big pitcher of
water, and a lot of buckwheat cakes, hot and toasted on both
sides, like Bob and me was fond of. How long will it be first?"
"I don't know -- not very long." The man's eyes were fixed
upon the northern horizon. In the blue vault of the heaven there
had appeared three little specks which increased in size every
moment, so rapidly did they approach. They speedily resolved
themselves into three large brown birds, which circled over the
heads of the two wanderers, and then settled upon some rocks
which overlooked them. They were buzzards, the vultures of the
West, whose coming is the forerunner of death.
"Cocks and hens," cried the little girl gleefully, pointing at
their ill-omened forms, and clapping her hands to make them
rise. "Say, did God make this country?"
"Of course He did," said her companion, rather startled by
this unexpected question.
"He made the country down in Illinois, and He made the
Missouri," the little girl continued. "I guess somebody else
made the country in these parts. It's not nearly so well done.
They forgot the water and the trees."
"What would ye think of offering up prayer?" the man asked
"It ain't night yet," she answered.
"It don't matter. It ain't quite regular, but He won't mind
that, you bet. You say over them ones that you used to say every
night in the wagon when we was on the plains."
"Why don't you say some yourself?" the child asked, with
"I disremember them," he answered. "I hain't said none
since I was half the height o' that gun. I guess it's never too late.
You say them out, and I'll stand by and come in on the choruses."
"Then you'll need to kneel down, and me too," she said,
laying the shawl out for that purpose. "You've got to put your
hands up like this. It makes you feel kind of good."
It was a strange sight, had there been anything but the buz-
zards to see it. Side by side on the narrow shawl knelt the two
wanderers, the little prattling child and the reckless, hardened
adventurer. Her chubby face and his haggard, angular visage
were both turned up to the cloudless heaven in heartfelt entreaty
to that dread Being with whom they were face to face, while the
two voices -- the one thin and clear, the other deep and harsh --
united in the entreaty for mercy and forgiveness. The prayer
finished, they resumed their seat in the shadow of the boulder
until the child fell asleep, nestling upon the broad breast of her
protector. He watched over her slumber for some time, but
Nature proved to be too strong for him. For three days and three
nights he had allowed himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly the
eyelids drooped over the tired eyes, and the head sunk lower and
lower upon the breast, until the man's grizzled beard was mixed
with the gold tresses of his companion, and both slept the same
deep and dreamless slumber.
Had the wanderer remained awake for another half-hour a
strange sight would have met his eyes. Far away on the extreme
verge of the alkali plain there rose up a little spray of dust, very
slight at first, and hardly to be distinguished from the mists of
the distance, but gradually growing higher and broader until it
formed a solid, well-defined cloud. This cloud continued to
increase in size until it became evident that it could only be
raised by a great multitude of moving creatures. In more fertile
spots the observer would have come to the conclusion that one of
those great herds of bisons which graze upon the prairie land was
approaching him. This was obviously impossible in these arid
wilds. As the whirl of dust drew nearer to the solitary bluff upon
which the two castaways were reposing, the canvas-covered tilts
of wagons and the figures of armed horsemen began to show up
through the haze, and the apparition revealed itself as being a
great caravan upon its journey for the West. But what a caravan!
When the head of it had reached the base of the mountains, the
rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right across the enor-
mous plain stretched the straggling array, wagons and carts, men
on horseback, and men on foot. Innumerable women who stag-
gered along under burdens, and children who toddled beside the
wagons or peeped out from under the white coverings. This was
evidently no ordinary party of immigrants, but rather some no-
mad people who had been compelled from stress of circum-
stances to seek themselves a new country. There rose through the
clear air a confused clattering and rumbling from this great mass
of humanity, with the creaking of wheels and the neighing of
horses. Loud as it was, it was not sufficient to rouse the two
tired wayfarers above them.
At the head of the column there rode a score or more of grave,
iron-faced men, clad in sombre homespun garments and armed
with rifles. On reaching the base of the bluff they halted, and
held a short council among themselves.
"The wells are to the right, my brothers," said one, a hard-
lipped, clean-shaven man with grizzly hair.
"To the right of the Sierra Blanco -- so we shall reach the Rio
Grande," said another.
"Fear not for water," cried a third. "He who could draw it
from the rocks will not now abandon His own chosen people."
"Amen! amen!" responded the whole party.
They were about to resume their journey when one of the
youngest and keenest-eyed uttered an exclamation and pointed up
at thie rugged crag above them. From its summit there fluttered a
little wisp of pink, showing up hard and bright against the gray
rocks behind. At the sight there was a general reining up of
horses and unslinging of guns, while fresh horsemen came gal-
loping up to reinforce the vanguard. The word "Redskins" was
on every lip.
"There can't be any number of Injuns here," said the elderly
man who appeared to be in command. "We have passed the
Pawlees, and there are no other tribes until we cross the great
"Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stangerson?" asked one
of the band.
"And I," "And I," cried a dozen voices.
"Leave your horses below and we will await you here," the
elder answered. In a moment the young fellows had dismounted,
fastened their horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope
which led up to the object which had excited their curiosity.
They advanced rapidly and noiselessly, with the confidence and
dexterity of practised scouts. The watchers from the plain below
could see them flit from rock to rock until their figures stood out
against the sky-line. The young man who had first given the
alarm was leading them. Suddenly his followers saw him throw
up his hands, as though overcome with astonishment, and on
joining him they were affected in the same way by the sight
which met their eyes.
On the little plateau which crowned the barren hill there stood
a single giant boulder, and against this boulder there lay a tall
man, long-bearded and hard-featured, but of an excessive thin-
ness. His placid face and regular breathing showed that he was
fast asleep. Beside him lay a child, with her round white arms
encircling his brown sinewy neck, and her golden-haired head
resting upon the breast of his velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips were
parted, showing the regular line of snow-white teeth within, and
a playful smile played over her infantile features. Her plump
little white legs, terminating in white socks and neat shoes with
shining buckles, offered a strange contrast to the long shrivelled
members of her companion. On the ledge of rock above this
strange couple there stood three solemn buzzards, who, at the
sight of the newcomers, uttered raucous screams of disappoint-
ment and flapped sullenly away.
The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleepers, who stared
about them in bewilderment. The man staggered to his feet and
looked down upon the plain which had been so desolate when
sleep had overtaken him, and which was now traversed by this
enormous body of men and of beasts. His face assumed an
expression of incredulity as he gazed, and he passed his bony
hand over his eyes. "This is what they call delirium, I guess "
he muttered. The child stood beside him, holding on to the skirt
of his coat, and said nothing, but looked all round her with the
wondering, questioning gaze of childhood.
The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two
castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them
seized the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two
others supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards
"My name is John Ferrier," the wanderer explained; "me and
that little un are all that's left o' twenty-one people. The rest is
all dead o' thirst and hunger away down in the south."
"Is she your child?" asked someone.
"I guess she is now," the other cried, defiantly; "she's
mine 'cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She's
Lucy Ferrier from this day on. Who are you, though?" he contin-
ued, glancing with curiosity at his stalwart, sunburned rescuers;
"there seems to be a powerful lot of ye."
"Nigh unto ten thousand," said one of the young men; "we
are the persecuted children of God -- the chosen of the Angel
"I never heard tell on him," said the wanderer. "He appears
to have chosen a fair crowd of ye."
"Do not jest at that which is sacred," said the other, sternly.
"We are of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in
Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold, which were handed
unto the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come from
Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois, where we had founded our
temple. We have come to seek a refuge from the violent man and
from the godless, even though it be the heart of the desert."
The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recollections to John
Ferrier. "I see," he said; "you are the Mormons."
"We are the Mormons," answered his companions with one
"And where are you going?"
"We do not know. The hand of God is leading us under the
person of our Prophet. You must come before him. He shall say
what is to be done with you."
They had reached the base of the hill by this time, and were
surrounded by crowds of the pilgrims -- pale-faced, meek-looking
women; strong, laughing children; and anxious, earnest-eyed
men. Many were the cries of astonishment and of commiseration
which arose from them when they perceived the youth of one of
the strangers and the destitution of the other. Their escort did not
halt, however, but pushed on, followed by a great crowd of
Mormons, until they reached a wagon, which was conspicuous
for its great size and for the gaudiness and smartness of its
appearance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas the others were
furnished with two, or, at most, four apiece. Beside the driver
there sat a man who could not have been more than thirty years
of age, but whose massive head and resolute expression marked
him as a leader. He was reading a brown-backed volume, but as
the crowd approached he laid it aside, and listened attentively to
an account of the episode. Then he turned to the two castaways.
"If we take you with us," he said, in solemn words, "it can
only be as believers in our own creed. We shall have no wolves
in our fold. Better far that your bones should bleach in this
wilderness than that you should prove to be that little speck of
decay which in time corrupts the whole fruit. Will you come
with us on these terms?"
"Guess I'll come with you on any terms," said Ferrier, with
such emphasis that the grave Elders could not restrain a smile.
The leader alone retained his stern, impressive expression.
"Take him, Brother Stangerson," he said, "give him food
and drink, and the child likewise. Let it be your task also to
teach him our holy creed. We have delayed long enough. For-
ward! On, on to Zion!"
"On, on to Zion!" cried the crowd of Mormons, and the
words rippled down the long caravan, passing from mouth to
mouth until they died away in a dull murmur in the far distance.
With a cracking of whips and a creaking of wheels the great
wagons got into motion, and soon the whole caravan was wind-
ing along once more. The Elder to whose care the two waifs had
been committed led them to his wagon, where a meal was
already awaiting them.
"You shall remain here," he said. "In a few days you will
have recovered from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember
that now and forever you are of our religion. Brigham Young has
said it, and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, which
is the voice of God."
The Flower of Utah
This is not the place to commemorate the trials and privations
endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their
final haven. From the shores of the Mississippi to the western
slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had struggled on with a
constancy almost unparalleled in history. The savage man, and
the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease -- every
impediment which Nature could place in the way -- had all been
overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet the long journey and
the accumulated terrors had shaken the hearts of the stoutest
among them. There was not one who did not sink upon his knees
in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad valley of Utah
bathed in the sunlight beneath them, and learned from the lips of
their leader that this was the promised land, and that these virgin
acres were to be theirs for evermore.
Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator as
well as a resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts prepared, in
which the future city was sketched out. All around farms were
apportioned and allotted in proportion to the standing of each
individual. The tradesman was put to his trade and the artisan to
his calling. In the town streets and squares sprang up as if by
magic. In the country there was draining and hedging, planting
and clearing, until the next summer saw the whole country
golden with the wheat crop. Everything prospered in the strange
settlement. Above all, the great temple which they had erected in
the centre of the city grew ever taller and larger. From the first
blush of dawn until the closing of the twilight, the clatter of the
hammer and the rasp of the saw were never absent from the
monument which the immigrants erected to Him who had led
them safe through many dangers.
The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl, who had
shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter, ac-
companied the Mormons to the end of their great pilgrimage.
Little Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough in Elder
Stangerson's wagon, a retreat which she shared with the Mor-
mon's three wives and with his son, a headstrong, forward boy
of twelve. Having rallied, with the elasticity of childhood, from
the shock caused by her mother's death, she soon became a pet
with the women, and reconciled herself to this new life in her
moving canvas-covered home. In the meantime Ferrier having
recovered from his privations, distinguished himself as a useful
guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly did he gain the
esteem of his new companions, that when they reached the end
of their wanderings, it was unanimously agreed that he should be
provided with as large and as fertile a tract of land as any of the
settlers, with the exception of Young himself, and of Stangerson,
Kemball, Johnston, and Drebber, who were the four principal
On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a substan-
tial log-house, which received so many additions in succeeding
years that it grew into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practical
turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skilful with his hands. His
iron constitution enabled him to work morning and evening at
improving and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his
farm and all that belonged to him prospered exceedingly. In
three years he was better off than his neighbours, in six he was
well-to-do. in nine he was rich, and in twelve there were not half
a dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who could compare
with him. From the great inland sea to the distant Wasatch
Mountains there was no name better known than that of John
There was one way and only one in which he offended the
susceptibilities of his co-religionists. No argument or persuasion
could ever induce him to set up a female establishment after the
manner of his companions. He never gave reasons for this
persistent refusal, but contented himself by resolutely and inflex-
ibly adhering to his determination. There were some who ac-
cused him of lukewarmness in his adopted religion, and others
who put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur
expense. Others, again, spoke of some early love affair, and of a
fair-haired girl who had pined away on the shores of the Atlan-
tic. Whatever the reason, Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In
every other respect he conformed to the religion of the young
settlement, and gained the name of being an orthodox and straight-
Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her
adopted father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the
mountains and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the
place of nurse and mother to the young girl. As year succeeded
to year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek more ruddy and
her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon the high road which
ran by Ferrier's farm felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in his
mind as he watched her lithe, girlish figure tripping through the
wheatfields, or met her mounted upon her father's mustang, and
managing it with all the ease and grace of a true child of the
West. So the bud blossomed into a flower, and the year which
saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as fair a
specimen of American girlhood as could be found in the whole
It was not the father, however, who first discovered that the
child had developed into the woman. It seldom is in such cases.
That mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual to be
measured by dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know it
until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand sets her heart
thrilling within her, and she learns, with a mixture of pride and
of fear, that a new and a larger nature has awakened within her.
There are few who cannot recall that day and remember the one
little incident which heralded the dawn of a new life. In the case
of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was serious enough in itself, apart
from its future influence on her destiny and that of many besides.
It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were
as busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their
emblem. In the fields and in the streets rose the same hum of
human industry. Down the dusty high roads defiled long streams
of heavily laden mules, all heading to the west, for the gold
fever had broken out in California, and the overland route lay
through the city of the Elect. There, too, were droves of sheep
and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture lands, and
trains of tired immigrants, men and horses equally weary of their
interminable journey. Through all this motley assemblage, thread-
ing her way with the skill of an accomplished rider, there
galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face flushed with the exercise and
her long chestnut hair floating out behind her. She had a com-
mission from her father in the city, and was dashing in as she had
done many a time before, with all the fearlessness of youth,
thinking only of her task and how it was to be performed. The
travel-stained adventurers gazed after her in astonishment, and
even the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their peltries,
relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they marvelled at the beauty
of the pale-faced maiden.
She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the
road blocked by a great drove of cattle, driven by a half-dozen
wild-looking herdsmen from the plains. In her impatience she
endeavoured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse into what
appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had she got fairly into it, how-
ever, before the beasts closed in behind her, and she found
herself completely embedded in the moving stream of fierce-
eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she was to deal with
cattle, she was not alarmed at her situation, but took advantage
of every opportunity to urge her horse on, in the hopes oi.
pushing her way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns
of one of the creatures, either by accident or design, came in
violent contact with the flank of the mustang, and excited it to
madness. In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with a snort
of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way that would have
unseated any but a skilful rider. The situation was full of peril.
Every plunge of the excited horse brought it against the horns
again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all that the girl
could do to keep herself in the saddle, yet a slip would mean a
terrible death under the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified
animals. Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head began
to swim, and her grip upon the bridle to relax. Choked by the
rising cloud of dust and by the steam from the struggling crea-
tures, she might have abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a
kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of assistance. At the
same moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse
by the curb, and forcing a way through the drove, soon brought
her to the outskirts.
"You're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her preserver, respectfully.
She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and laughed saucily.
"I'm awful frightened," she said, naively; "whoever would
have thought that Poncho would have been so scared by a lot of
"Thank God, you kept your seat," the other said, earnestly.
He was a tall, savage-looking young fellow, mounted on a
powerful roan horse, and clad in the rough dress of a hunter,
with a long rifle slung over his shoulders. "I guess you are the
daughter of John Ferrier," he remarked; "I saw you ride down
from his house. When you see him, ask him if he remembers the
Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If he's the same Ferrier, my father
and he were pretty thick."
"Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" she asked,
The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion, and his
dark eyes sparkled with pleasure. "I'll do so," he said; "we've
been in the mountains for two months, and are not over and
above in visiting condition. He must take us as he finds us."
"He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I," she
answered; "he's awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on
me he'd have never got over it."
"Neither would I," said her companion.
"You! Well, I don't see that it would make much matter to
you, anyhow. You ain't even a friend of ours."
The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this re-
mark that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud.
"There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of course, you are a
friend now. You must come and see us. Now I must push along,
or father won't trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!"
"Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and
bending over her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round,
gave it a cut with her riding-whip, and darted away down the
broad road in a rolling cloud of dust.
Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions, gloomy
and tacitum. He and they had been among the Nevada Moun-
tains prospecting for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City
in the hope of raising capital enough to work some lodes which
they had discovered. He had been as keen as any of them upon
the business until this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts
into another channel. The sight of the fair young girl, as frank
and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, had stirred his volcanic,
untamed heart to its very depths. When she had vanished from
his sight, he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and that
neither silver speculations nor any other questions could ever be
of such importance to him as this new and all-absorbing one.
The love which had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden,
changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild, fierce passion of
a man of strong will and imperious temper. He had been accus-
tomed to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart
that he would not fail in this if human effort and human perse-
verance could render him successful.
He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again,
until his face was a familiar one at the farmhouse. John, cooped
up in the valley, and absorbed in his work, had had little chance
of learning the news of the outside world during the last twelve
years. All this Jefferson Hope was able to tell him, and in a style
which interested Lucy as well as her father. He had been a
pioneer in California, and could narrate many a strange tale of
fortunes made and fortunes lost in those wild, halcyon days. He
had been a scout too, and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a
ranchman. Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jeffer-
son Hope had been there in search of them. He soon became a
favourite with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his
virtues. On such occasions, Lucy was silent, but her blushing
cheek and her bright, happy eyes showed only too clearly that
her young heart was no longer her own. Her honest father may
not have observed these symptoms, but they were assuredly not
thrown away upon the man who had won her affections.
One summer evening he came galloping down the road and
pulled up at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came down to
meet him. He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the
"I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands in his, and
gazing tenderly down into her face: "I won't ask you to come
with me now, but will you be ready to come when I am here
"And when will that be?" she asked, blushing and laughing.
"A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim
you then, my darling. There's no one who can stand between
"And how about father?" she asked.
"He has given his consent, provided we get these mines
working all right. I have no fear on that head."
"Oh, well; of course, if you and father have arranged it all,
there's no more to be said," she whispered, with her cheek
against his broad breast.
"Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her.
"It is settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will be to go.
They are waiting for me at the canon. Good-bye, my own
darling -- good-bye. In two months you shall see me."
He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, flinging himself
upon his horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking
round, as though afraid that his resolution might fail him if he
took one glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the gate,
gazing after him until he vanished from her sight. Then she
walked back into the house, the happiest girl in all Utah.
John Ferrier Talks with the Prophet
Three weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope and his comrades
had departed from Salt Lake City. John Ferrier's heart was sore
within him when he thought of the young man's return, and of
the impending loss of his adopted child. Yet her bright and
happy face reconciled him to the arrangement more than any
argument could have done. He had always determined, deep
down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to
allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded
as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever
he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he
was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, how-
ever, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous
matter in those days in the Land of the Saints.
Yes, a dangerous matter -- so dangeous that even the most
saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with bated
breath, lest something which fell from their lips might be mis-
construed, and bring down a swift retribution upon them. The
victims of persecution had now turned persecutors on their own
account, and persecutors of the most terrible description. Not the
Inquisition of Seville, nor the German Vehmgericht, nor the
secret societies of Italy, were ever able to put a more formidable
machinery in motion than that which cast a cloud over the state
Its invisibility, and the mystery which was attached to it, made
this organization doubly terrible. It appeared to be omniscient
and omnipotent, and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man
who held out against the Church vanished away, and none knew
whither he had gone or what had befallen him. His wife and his
children awaited him at home, but no father ever returned to tell
them how he had fared at the hands of his secret judges. A rash
word or a hasty act was followed by annihilation, and yet none
knew what the nature might be of this terrible power which was
suspended over them. No wonder that men went about in fear
and trembling, and that even in the heart of the wilderness they
dared not whisper the doubts which oppressed them.
At first this vague and terrible power was exercised only upon
the recalcitrants who, having embraced the Mormon faith, wished
afterwards to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it took a
wider range. The supply of adult women was running short, and
polygamy without a female population on which to draw was a
barren doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to be bandied
about -- rumours of murdered immigrants and rifled camps in
regions where Indians had never been seen. Fresh women ap-
peared in the harems of the Elders -- women who pined and
wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an unextinguishable
horror. Belated wanderers upon the mountains spoke of gangs of
armed men, masked, stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them
in the darkness. These tales and rumours took substance and
shape, and were corroborated and recorroborated, until they
resolved themselves into a definite name. To this day, in the
lonely ranches of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the
Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one.
Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such
terrible results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror
which it inspired in the minds of men. None knew who belonged
to this ruthless society. The names of the participators in the
deeds of blood and violence done under the name of religion
were kept profoundly secret. The very friend to whom you
communicated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his mission
might be one of those who would come forth at night with fire
and sword to exact a terrible reparation. Hence every man feared
his neighbour, and none spoke of the things which were nearest
One fine morning John Ferrier was about to set out to his
wheatfields, when he heard the click of the latch, and, looking
through the window, saw a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged
man coming up the pathway. His heart leapt to his mouth, for
this was none other than the great Brigham Young himself. Full
of trepidation -- for he knew that such a visit boded him little
good -- Ferrier ran to the door to greet the Mormon chief. The
latter, however, received his salutations coldly, and followed
him with a stern face into the sitting-room.
"Brother Ferrier," he said, taking a seat, and eyeing the
farmer keenly from under his light-coloured eyelashes, "the true
believers have been good friends to you. We picked you up
when you were starving in the desert, we shared our food with
you, led you safe to the Chosen Valley, gave you a goodly share
of land, and allowed you to wax rich under our protection. Is not
"It is so," answered John Ferrier.
"In return for all this we asked but one condition: that was,
that you should embrace the true faith, and conform in every
way to its usages. This you promised to do, and this, if common
report says truly, you have neglected."
"And how have I neglected it?" asked Ferrier, throwing out
his hands in expostulation. "Have I not given to the common
fund? Have I not attended at the Temple? Have I not?"
"Where are your wives?" asked Young, looking round him.
"Call them in, that I may greet them."
"It is true that I have not married," Ferrier answered. "But
women were few, and there were many who had better claims
than I. I was not a lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my
"It is of that daughter that I would speak to you," said the
leader of the Mormons. "She has grown to be the flower of
Utah, and has found favour in the eyes of many who are high in
John Ferrier groaned internally.
"There are stories of her which I would fain disbelieve --
stories that she is sealed to some Gentile. This must be the
gossip of idle tongues. What is the thirteenth rule in the code of
the sainted Joseph Smith? 'Let every maiden of the true faith
marry one of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she commits a
grievous sin.' This being so, it is impossible that you, who
profess the holy creed, should suffer your daughter to violate it."
John Ferrier made no answer, but he played nervously with his
"Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested -- so it
has been decided in the Sacred Council of Four. The girl is
young, and we would not have her wed gray hairs, neither would
we deprive her of all choice. We Elders have many heifers,
but our children must also be provided. Stangerson has a son,
and Drebber has a son, and either of them would gladly welcome
your daughter to his house. Let her choose between them. They
are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say you to that?"
Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows
"You wil give us time," he said at last. "My daughter is
very young -- she is scarce of an age to marry."
"She shall have a month to choose," said Young, rising from
his seat. "At the end of that time she shall give her answer."
He was passing through the door, when he turned with flushed
face and flashing eyes. "It were better for you, John Ferrier,"
he thundered, "that you and she were now lying blanched
skeletons upon the Sierra Blanco, than that you should put your
weak wills against the orders of the Holy Four!"
With a threatening gesture of his hand, he turned from the
door, and Ferrier heard his heavy steps scrunching along the
He was still sitting with his elbow upon his knee, considering
how he should broach the matter to his daughter, when a soft
hand was laid upon his, and looking up, he saw her standing
beside him. One glance at her pale, frightened face showed him
that she had heard what had passed.
"I could not help it," she said, in answer to his look. "His
voice rang through the house. Oh, father, father, what shall we
"Don't you scare yourself," he answered, drawing her to
him, and passing his broad, rough hand caressingly over her
chestnut hair. "We'll fix it up somehow or another. You don't
find your fancy kind o' lessening for this chap, do you?"
A sob and a squeeze of his hand were her only answer.
"No; of course not. I shouldn't care to hear you say you did.
He's a likely lad, and he's a Christian, which is morc than these
folks here, in spite o' all their praying and preaching. There's a
party starting for Nevada to-morrow, and I'll manage to send
him a message letting him know the hole we are in. If I know
anything o' that young man, he'll be back with a speed that
would whip electro-telegraphs."
Lucy laughed through her tears at her father's description.
"When he comes, he will advise us for the best. But it is for
you that I am frightened, dear. One hears -- one hears such
dreadful stories about those who oppose the Prophet; something
terrible always happens to them."
"But we haven't opposed him yet," her father answered. "It
will be time to look out for squalls when we do. We have a clear
month before us; at the end of that, I guess we had best shin out
"That's about the size of it."
"But the farm?"
"We will raise as much as we can in money, and let the rest
go. To tell the truth, Lucy, it isn't the first time I have thought of
doing it. I don't care about knuckling under to any man, as these
folk do to their damed Prophet. I'm a freeborn American, and
it's all new to me. Guess I'm too old to learn. If he comes
browsing about this farm, he might chance to run up against a
charge of buckshot travelling in the opposite direction."
"But they won't let us leave," his daughter objected.
"Wait till Jefferson comes, and we'll soon manage that. In the
meantime, don't you fret yourself, my dearie, and don't get your
eyes swelled up, else he'll be walking into me when he sees you.
There's nothing to be afeared about, and there's no danger at
John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in a very confi-
dent tone, but she could not help observing that he paid unusual
care to the fastening of the doors that night, and that he carefully
cleaned and loaded the rusty old shot-gun which hung upon the
wall of his bedroom.
A Flight for Life
0n the mornihg which followed his interview with the Mormon
Prophet, John Ferrier went in to Salt Lake City, and having
found his acquaintance, who was bound for the Nevada Moun-
tains, he entrusted him with his message to Jefferson Hope. In it
he told the young man of the imminent danger which threatened
them, and how necessary it was that he should return. Having
done thus he felt easier in his mind, and returned home with a
As he approached his farm, he was surprised to see a horse
hitched to each of the posts of the gate. Still more surprised was
he on the entering to find two young men in possession of his
sitting-room. One, with a long pale face, was leaning back in the
rocking-chair, with his feet cocked up upon the stove. The other,
a bull-necked youth with coarse, bloated features, was standing in
front of the window with his hands in his pockets whistling a
popular hymn. Both of them nodded to Ferrier as he entered, and
the one in the rocking-chair commenced the conversation.
"Maybe you don't know us," he said. "This here is the son
of Elder Drebber, and I'm Joseph Stangerson, who travelled with
you in the desert when the Lord stretched out His hand and
gathered you into the true fold."
"As He will all the nations in His own good time," said the
other in a nasal voice; "He grindeth slowly but exceeding small."
John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed who his visitors
"We have come," continued Stangerson, "at the advice of
our fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of
us may seem good to you and to her. As I have but four wives
and Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me that my
claim is the stronger one."
"Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson," cried the other; "the ques-
tion is not how many wives we have, but how many we can
keep. My father has now given over his mills to me, and I am
the richer man."
"But my prospects are better," said the other, warmly. "When
the Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his
leather factory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the
"It will be for the maiden to decide," rejoined young Drebber,
smirking at his own reflection in the glass. "We will leave it all
to her decision."
During this dialogue John Ferrier had stood fuming in the
doorway, hardly able to keep his riding-whip from the backs of
his two visitors.
"Look here," he said at last, striding up to them, "when my
daughter summons you, you can come, but until then I don't
want to see your faces again."
The two young Mormons stared at him in amazement. In their
eyes this competition between them for the maiden's hand was
the highest of honours both to her and her father.
"There are two ways out of the room," cried Ferrier; "there
is the door, and there is the window. Which do you care to
His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt hands so
threatening, that his visitors sprang to their feet and beat a
hurried retreat. The old farmer followed them to the door.
"Let me know when you have settled which it is to be," he
"You shall smart for this!" Stangerson cried, white with rage.
"You have defied the Prophet and the Council of Four. You
shall rue it to the end of your days."
"The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon you," cried young
Drebber; "He will arise and smite you!"
"Then I'll start the smiting," exclaimed Ferrier, furiously,
and would have rushed upstairs for his gun had not Lucy seized
him by the arm and restrained him. Before he could escape from
her, the clatter of horses' hoofs told him that they were beyond
"The young canting rascals!" he exclaimed, wiping the per-
spiration from his forehead; "I would sooner see you in your
grave, my girl, than the wife of either of them."
"And so should I, father." she answered, with spirit; "but
Jefferson will soon be here."
"Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The sooner the
better, for we do not know what their next move may be."
It was, indeed, high time that someone capable of giving
advice and help should come to the aid of the sturdy old farmer
and his adopted daughter. In the whole history of the settlement
there had never been such a case of rank disobedience to the
authority of the Elders. If minor errors were punished so sternly,
what would be the fate of this arch rebel? Ferrier knew that his
wealth and position would be of no avail to him. Others as well
known and as rich as himself had been spirited away before now,
and their goods given over to the Church. He was a brave man,
but he trembled at the vague, shadowy terrors which hung over
him. Any known danger he could face with a firm lip, but this
suspense was unnerving. He concealed his fears from his daugh-
ter, however, and affected to make light of the whole matter,
though she, with the keen eye of love, saw plainly that he was ill
He expected that he would receive some message or remon-
strance from Young as to his conduct, and he was not mistaken,
though it came in an unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next
morning he found, to his surprise, a small square of paper pinned
on to the coverlet of his bed just over his chest. On it was
printed, in bold, straggling letters: --
"Twenty-nine days are given you for amendment, and then --"
The dash was more fear-inspiring than any threat could have
been. How this warning came into his room puzzled John Ferrier
sorely, for his servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and
windows had all been secured. He crumpled the paper up and
said nothing to his daughter, but the incident struck a chill into
his heart. The twenty-nine days were evidently the balance of the
month which Young had promised. What strength or courage
could avail against an enemy armed with such mysterious pow-
ers? The hand which fastened that pin might have struck him to
the heart, and he could never have known who had slain him.
Still more shaken was he next morning. They had sat down to
their breakfast, when Lucy with a cry of surprise pointed up-
wards. In the centre of the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned
stick apparently, the number 28. To his daughter it was unintelli-
gible, and he did not enlighten her. That night he sat up with his
gun and kept watch and ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and
yet in the morning a great 27 had been painted upon the outside of
Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning came he found
that his unseen enemies had kept their register, and had marked
up in some conspicuous position how many days were still left to
him out of the month of grace. Sometimes the fatal numbers
appeared upon the walls, sometimes upon the floors, occasion-
ally they were on small placards stuck upon the garden gate or
the railings. With all his vigilance John Ferrier could not dis-
cover whence these daily warnings proceeded. A horror which
was almost superstitious came upon him at the sight of them. He
became haggard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled look
of some hunted creature. He had but one hope in life now, and
that was for the arrival of the young hunter from Nevada.
Twenty had changed to fifteen, and fifteen to ten, but there
was no news of the absentee. One by one the numbers dwindled
down, and still there came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman
clattered down the road, or a driver shouted at his team, the old
farmer hurried to the gate, thinking that help had arrived at last.
At last, when he saw five give way to four and that again to
three, he lost heart, and abandoned all hope of escape. Single-
handed, and with his limited knowledge of the mountains which
surrounded the settlement, he knew that he was powerless. The
more frequented roads were strictly watched and guarded, and
none could pass along them without an order from the Council.
Turn which way he would, there appeared to be no avoiding the
blow which hung over him. Yet the old man never wavered in
his resolution to part with life itself before he consented to what
he regarded as his daughter's dishonour.
He was sitting alone one evening pondering deeply over his
troubles, and searching vainly for some way out of them. That
morning had shown the figure 2 upon the wall of his house, and
the next day would be the last of the allotted time: What was to
happen then? All manner of vague and terrible fancies filled his
imagination. And his daughter -- what was to become of her after
he was gone? Was there no escape from the invisible network
which was drawn all round them? He sank his head upon the table
and sobbed at the thought of his own impotence.
What was that? In the silence he heard a gentle scratching
sound -- low, but very distinct in the quiet of the night. It came
from the door of the house. Ferrier crept into the hall and
listened intently. There was a pause for a few moments, and then
the low, insidious sound was repeated. Someone was evidently
tapping very gently upon one of the panels of the door. Was it
some midnight assassin who had come to carry out the murder-
ous orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some agent who was
marking up that the last day of grace had arrived? John Ferrier
felt that instant death would be better than the suspense which
shook his nerves and chilled his heart. Springing forward, he
drew the bolt and threw the door open.
Outside all was calm and quiet. The night was fine, and the
stars were twinkling brightly overhead. The little front garden
lay before the farmer's eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but
neither there nor on the road was any human being to be seen.
With a sigh of relief, Ferrier looked to right and to left, until,
happening to glance straight down at his own feet, he saw to his
astonishment a man lying flat upon his face upon the ground,
with arms and legs all asprawl.
So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned up against the
wall with his hand to his throat to stifle his inclination to call
out. His first thought was that the prostrate figure was that of
some wounded or dying man, but as he watched it he saw it
writhe along the ground and into the hall with the rapidity and
noiselessness of a serpent. Once within the house the man sprang
to his feet, closed the door, and revealed to the astonished farmer
the fierce face and resolute expression of Jefferson Hope.
"Good God!" gasped John Ferrier. "How you scared me!
Whatever made you come in like that?"
"Give me food," the other said, hoarsely. "I have had no
time for bite or sup for eight-and-forty hours." He flung himself
upon the cold meat and bread which were still lying upon the
table from his host's supper, and devoured it voraciously. "Does
Lucy bear up well?" he asked, when he had satisfied his hunger.
"Yes. She does not know the danger," her father answered.
"That is well. The house is watched on every side. That is
why I crawled my way up to it. They may be darned sharp, but
they're not quite sharp enough to catch a Washoe hunter."
John Ferrier felt a different man now that he realized that he
had a devoted ally. He seized the young man's leathery hand and
wrung it cordially. "You're a man to be proud of," he said.
"There are not many who would come to share our danger and
"You've hit it there, pard," the young hunter answered. "I
have a respect for you, but if you were alone in this business I'd
think twice before I put my head into such a hornet's nest. It's
Lucy that brings me here, and before harm comes on her I guess
there will be one less o' the Hope family in Utah."
"What are we to do?"
"To-morrow is your last day, and unless you act to-night you
are lost. I have a mule and two horses waiting in the Eagle
Ravine. How much money have you?"
"Two thousand dollars in gold, and five in notes."
"That will do. I have as much more to add to it. We must
push for Carson City through the mountains. You had best wake
Lucy. It is as well that the servants do not sleep in the house."
While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daughter for the ap-
proaching journey, Jefferson Hope packed all the eatables that he
could find into a small parcel, and filled a stoneware jar with
water, for he knew by experience that the mountain wells were
few and far between. He had hardly completed his arrangements
before the farmer returned with his daughter all dressed and
ready for a start. The greeting between the lovers was warm, but
brief, for minutes were precious, and there was much to be done.
"We must make our start at once," said Jefferson Hope
speaking in a low but resolute voice, like one who realizes the
greatness of the peril, but has steeled his heart to meet it. "The
front and back entrances are watched, but with caution we may
get away through the side window and across the fields. Once on
the road we are only two miles from the Ravine where the horses
are waiting. By daybreak we should be halfway through the
"What if we are stopped?" asked Ferrier.
Hope slapped the revolver butt which protruded from the front
of his tunic. "If they are too many for us, we shall take two or
three of them with us," he said with a sinister smile.
The lights inside the house had all been extinguished, and
from the darkened window Ferrier peered over the fields which
had been his own, and which he was now about to abandon
forever. He had long nerved himself to the sacrifice, however
and the thought of the honour and happiness of his daughter
outweighed any regret at his ruined fortunes. All looked so
peaceful and happy, the rustling trees and the broad silent stretch
of grainland, that it was difficult to realize that the spirit of
murder lurked through it all. Yet the white face and set expres-
sion of the young hunter showed that in his approach to the-
house he had seen enough to satisfy him upon that head.
Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jefferson Hope had
the scanty provisions and water, while Lucy had a small bundle
containing a few of her more valued possessions. Opening the
window very slowly and carefully, they waited until a dark cloud
had somewhat obscured the night, and then one by one passed
through into the little garden. With bated breath and crouching
figures they stumbled across it, and gained the shelter of the
hedge, which they skirted until they came to the gap which
opened into the cornfield. They had just reached this point when
the young man seized his two companions and dragged them
down into the shadow, where they lay silent and trembling.
It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson
Hope the ears of a lynx. He and his friends had hardly crouched
down before the melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was
heard within a few yards of them, which was immediately
answered by another hoot at a small distance. At the same
moment a vague, shadowy figure emerged from the gap for
which they had been making, and uttered the plaintive signal cry
again, on which a second man appeared out of the obscurity.
"To-morrow at midnight," said the first, who appeared to be
in authority. "When the whippoorwill calls three times."
"It is well," returned the other. "Shall I tell Brother Drebber?"
"Pass it on to him, and from him to the others. Nine to
"Seven to five!" repeated the other; and the two figures flitted
away in different directions. Their concluding words had evi-
dently been some form of sign and countersign. The instant that
their footsteps had died away in the distance, Jefferson Hope
sprang to his feet, and helping his companions through the gap,
led the way across the fields at the top of his speed, supporting
and half-carrying the girl when her strength appeared to fail her.
"Hurry on! hurry on!" he gasped from time to time. "We are
through the line of sentinels. Everything depends on speed.
Once on the high road, they made rapid progress. Only once
did they meet anyone, and then they managed to slip into a field,
and so avoid recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter
branched away into a rugged and narrow footpath which led to
the mountains. Two dark, jagged peaks loomed above them
through the darkness, and the defile which led between them was
the Eagle Canon in which the horses were awaiting them. With
unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his way among the great
boulders and along the bed of a dried-up water-course, until he
came to the retired corner screened with rocks, where the faithful
animals had been picketed. The girl was placed upon the mule,
and old Ferrier upon one of the horses, with his money-bag,
while Jefferson Hope led the other along the precipitous and
It was a bewildering route for anyone who was not accus-
tomed to face Nature in her wildest moods. On the one side a
great crag towered up a thousand feet or more, black, stern, and
menacing, with long basaltic columns upon its rugged surface
like the ribs of some petrified monster. On the other hand a wild
chaos of boulders and debris made all advance impossible. Be-
tween the two ran the irregular tracks, so narrow in places that
they had to travel in Indian file, and so rough that only practised
riders could have traversed it at all. Yet, in spite of all dangers
and difficulties, the hearts of the fugitives were light within
them, for every step increased the distance between them and the
terrible despotism from which they were flying.
They soon had a proof, however, that they were still within the
jurisdiction of the Saints. They had reached the very wildest and
most desolate portion of the pass when the girl gave a startled cry,
and pointed upwards. On a rock which overlooked the track, show-
ing out dark and plain against the sky, there stood a solitary sen-
tinel. He saw them as soon as they perceived him, and his military
challenge of "Who goes there?" rang through the silent ravine.
"Travellers for Nevada," said Jefferson Hope, with his hand
upon the rifle which hung by his saddle.
They could see the lonely watcher fingering his gun, and
peering down at them as if dissatisfied at their reply.
"By whose permission?" he asked.
"The Holy Four," answered Ferrier. His Mormon experiences
had taught him that that was the highest authority to which he
"Nine to seven," cried the sentinel.
"Seven to five," returned Jefferson Hope promptly, remem-
bering the countersign which he had heard in the garden.
"Pass, and the Lord go with you," said the voice from above.
Beyond his post the path broadened out, and the horses were
able to break into a trot. Looking back, they could see the
solitary watcher leaning upon his gun, and knew that they. had
passed the outlying post of the chosen people, and that freedom
lay before them.
The Avenging Angels
All night their course lay through intricate defiles and over
irregular and rockstrewn paths. More than once they lost their
way, but Hope's intimate knowledge of the mountains enabled
them to regain the track once more. When morning broke, a
scene of marvellous though savage beauty lay before them. In
every direction the great snow-capped peaks hemmed them in,
peeping over each other's shoulders to the far horizon. So steep
were the rocky banks on either side of them that the larch and the
pine seemed to be suspended over their heads, and to need only a
gust of wind to come hurtling down upon them. Nor was the fear
entirely an illusion, for the barren valley was thickly strewn with
trees and boulders which had fallen in a similar manner. Even as
they passed, a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse
rattle which woke the echoes in the silent gorges, and startled the
weary horses into a gallop.
As the sun rose slowly above the eastern horizon, the caps of
the great mountains lit up one after the other, like lamps at a
festival, until they were all ruddy and glowing. The magnificent
spectacle cheered the hearts of the three fugitives and gave them
fresh energy. At a wild torrent which swept out of a ravine they
called a halt and watered their horses, while they partook of a
hasty breakfast. Lucy and her father would fain have rested
longer, but Jefferson Hope was inexorable. "They will be upon
our track by this time," he said. "Everything depends upon our
speed. Once safe in Carson, we may rest for the remainder of
During the whole of that day they struggled on through the
defiles, and by evening they calculated that they were more than
thirty miles from their enemies. At night-time they chose the
base of a beetling crag, where the rocks offered some protection
from the chill wind, and there, huddled together for warmth,
they enjoyed a few hours' sleep. Before daybreak, however, they
were up and on their way once more. They had seen no signs of
any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope began to think that they were
fairly out of the reach of the terrible organization whose enmity
they had incurred. He little knew how far that iron grasp could
reach, or how soon it was to close upon them and crush them.
About the middle of the second day of their flight their scanty
store of provisions began to run out. This gave the hunter little
uneasiness, however, for there was game to be had among the
mountains, and he had frequently before had to depend upon his
rifle for the needs of life. Choosing a sheltered nook, he piled
together a few dried branches and made a blazing fire, at which
his companions might warm themselves, for they were now
nearly five thousand feet above the sea level, and the air was
bitter and keen. Having tethered the horses, and bid Lucy adieu,
he threw his gun over his shoulder, and set out in search of
whatever chance might throw in his way. Looking back, he saw
the old man and the young girl crouching over the blazing fire,
while the three animals stood motionless in the background.
Then the intervening rocks hid them from his view.
He walked for a couple of miles through one ravine after
another without success, though, from the marks upon the bark
of the trees, and other indications, he judged that there were
numerous bears in the vicinity. At last, after two or three hours'
fruitless search, he was thinking of turning back in despair, when
casting his eyes upwards he saw a sight which sent a thrill of
pleasure through his heart. On the edge of a jutting pinnacle,
three or four hundred feet above him, there stood a creature
somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, but armed with a
pair of gigantic horns. The big-horn -- for so it is called -- was
acting, probably, as a guardian over a flock which were invisible
to the hunter; but fortunately it was heading in the opposite
direction, and had not perceived him. Lying on his face, he
rested his rifle upon a rock, and took a long and steady aim
before drawing the trigger. The animal sprang into the air,
tottered for a moment upon the edge of the precipice, and then
came crashing down into the valley beneath.
The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the hunter contented
himself with cutting away one haunch and part of the flank. With
this trophy over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps, for
the evening was already drawing in. He had hardly started,
however, before he realized the difficulty which faced him. In
his eagerness he had wandered far past the ravines which were
known to him, and it was no easy matter to pick out the path
which he had taken. The valley in which he found himself
divided and sub-divided into many gorges, which were so like
each other that it was impossible to distinguish one from the
other. He followed one for a mile or more until he came to a
mountain torrent which he was sure that he had never seen
before. Convinced that he had taken the wrong turn, he tried
another, but with the same result. Night was coming on rapidly,
and it was almost dark before he at last found himself in a defile
which was familiar to him. Even then it was no easy matter to
keep to the right track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the
high cliffs on either side made the obscurity more profound.
Weighed down with his burden, and weary from his exertions,
he stumbled along, keeping up his heart by the reflection that
every step brought him nearer to Lucy, and that he carried with
him enough to ensure them food for the remainder of their
He had now come to the mouth of the very defile in which he
had left them. Even in the darkness he could recognize the
outline of the cliffs which bounded it. They must, he reflected,
be awaiting him anxiously, for he had been absent nearly five
hours. In the gladness of his heart he put his hands to his mouth
and made the glen reecho to a loud halloo as a signal that he was
coming. He paused and listened for an answer. None came save
his own cry, which clattered up the dreary, silent ravines, and
was borne back to his ears in countless repetitions. Again he
shouted, even louder than before, and again no whisper came
back from the friends whom he had left such a short time ago. A
vague, nameless dread came over him, and he hurried onward
frantically, dropping the precious food in his agitation.
When he turned the corner, he came full in sight of the spot
where the fire had been lit. There was still a glowing pile of
wood ashes there, but it had evidently not been tended since his
departure. The same dead silence still reigned all round. With his
fears all changed to convictions, he hurried on. There was no
living creature near the remains of the fire: animals, man, maiden
all were gone. It was only too clear that some sudden and terrible
disaster had occurred during his absence -- a disaster which had
embraced them all, and yet had left no traces behind it.
Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jefferson Hope felt his
head spin round, and had to lean upon his rifle to save himself
from falling. He was essentially a man of action, however, and
speedily recovered from his temporary impotence. Seizing a
half-consumed piece of wood from the smouldering fire, he blew
it into a flame, and proceeded with its help to examine the little
camp. The ground was all stamped down by the feet of horses,
showing that a large party of mounted men had overtaken the
fugitives, and the direction of their tracks proved that they had
afterwards turned back to Salt Lake City. Had they carried back
both of his companions with them? Jefferson Hope had almost
persuaded himself that they must have done so, when his eye fell
upon an object which made every nerve of his body tingle within
him. A little way on one side of the camp was a low-lying heap
of reddish soil, which had assuredly not been there before. There
was no mistaking it for anything but a newly dug grave. As the
young hunter approaehed it, he perceived that a stick had been
planted on it, with a sheet of paper stuck in the cleft fork of it.
The inscription upon the paper was brief, but to the point:
FORMERLY OF SALT LAKE CITY.
Died August 4th, 1860.
The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before,
was gone, then, and this was all his epitaph. Jefferson Hope
looked wildly round to see if there was a second grave, but there
was no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by their terrible
pursuers to fulfil her original destiny, by becoming one of the
harem of an Elder's son. As the young fellow realized the
certainty of her fate, and his own powerlessness to prevent it, he
wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer in his last
Again, however, his active spirit shook off the lethargy which
springs from despair. If there was nothing else left to him, he
could at least devote his life to revenge. With indomitable pa-
tience and perseverance, Jefferson Hope possessed also a power
of sustained vindictiveness, which he may have learned from the
Indians amongst whom he had lived. As he stood by the desolate
fire, he felt that the only one thing which could assuage his grief
would be thorough and complete retribution, brought by his own
hand upon his enemies. His strong will and untiring energy
should, he determined, be devoted to that one end. With a grim,
white face, he retraced his steps to where he had dropped the
food, and having stirred up the smouldering fire, he cooked
enough to last him for a few days. This he made up into a
bundle, and, tired as he was, he set himself to walk back through
the mountains upon the track of the Avenging Angels.
For five days he toiled footsore and weary through the defiles
which he had already traversed on horseback. At night he flung
himself down among the rocks, and snatched a few hours of
sleep; but before daybreak he was always well on his way. On
the sixth day, he reached the Eagle Canon, from which they had
commenced their ill-fated flight. Thence he could look down
upon the home of the Saints. Worn and exhausted, he leaned
upon his rifle and shook his gaunt hand fiercely at the silent
widespread city beneath him. As he looked at it, he observed
that there were flags in some of the principal streets, and other
signs of festivity. He was still speculating as to what this might
mean when he heard the clatter of horse's hoofs, and saw a
mounted man riding towards him. As he approached, he recog-
nized him as a Mormon named Cowper, to whom he had ren-
dered services at different times. He therefore accosted him
when he got up to him, with the object of finding out what Lucy
Ferrier's fate had been.
"I am Jefferson Hope," he said. "You remember me."
The Mormon looked at him with undisguised astonishment --
indeed, it was difficult to recognize in this tattered, unkempt
wanderer, with ghastly white face and fierce, wild eyes, the
spruce young hunter of former days. Having, however, at last
satisfied himself as to his identity, the man's surprise changed to
"You are mad to come here," he cried. "It is as much as my
own life is worth to be seen talking with you. There is a warrant
against you from the Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away."
"I don't fear them, or their warrant," Hope said, earnestly.
"You must know something of this matter, Cowper. I conjure
you by everything you hold dear to answer a few questions. We
have always been friends. For God's sake, don't refuse to an-
"What is it?" the Mormon asked, uneasily. "Be quick. The
very rocks have ears and the trees eyes."
"What has become of Lucy Ferrier?"
"She was married yesterday to young Drebber. Hold up, man,
hold up; you have no life left in you."
"Don't mind me," said Hope faintly. He was white to the
very lips, and had sunk down on the stone against which he had
been leaning. "Married, you say?"
"Married yesterday -- that's what those flags are for on the
Endowment House. There was some words between young Drebber
and young Stangerson as to which was to have her. They'd both
been in the party that followed them, and Stangerson had shot
her father, which seemed to give him the best claim; but when
they argued it out in council, Drebber's party was the stronger,
so the Prophet gave her over to him. No one won't have her very
long though, for I saw death in her face yesterday. She is more
like a ghost than a woman. Are you off, then?"
"Yes, I am off," said Jefferson Hope, who had risen from his
seat. His face might have been chiselled out of marble, so hard
and set was its expression, while its eyes glowed with a baleful
"Where are you going?"
"Never mind," he answered; and, slinging his weapon over
his shoulder, strode off down the gorge and so away into the
heart of the mountains to the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst
them all there was none so fierce and so dangerous as himself.
The prediction of the Mormon was only too well fulfilled.
Whether it was the terrible death of her father or the effects of
the hateful marriage into which she had been forced, poor Lucy
never held up heF head again, but pined away and died within a
month. Her sottish husband, who had married her principally for
the sake of John Ferrier's property, did not affect any great grief
at his bereavement; but his other wives mourned over her, and
sat up with her the night before the burial, as is the Mormon
custom. They were grouped round the bier in the early hours of
the morning, when, to their inexpressible fear and astonishment,
the door was flung open, and a savage-looking, weather-beaten
man in tattered garments strode into the room. Without a glance
or a word to the cowering women, he walked up to the white
silent figure which had once contained the pure soul of Lucy
Ferrier. Stooping over her, he pressed his lips reverently to her
cold forehead, and then, snatching up her hand, he took the
wedding ring from her finger. "She shall not be buried in that,"
he cried with a fierce snarl, and before an alarm could be raised
sprang down the stairs and was gone. So strange and so brief
was the episode that the watchers might have found it hard to
believe it themselves or persuade other people of it, had it not
been for the undeniable fact that the circlet of gold which marked
her as having been a bride had disappeared.
For some months Jefferson Hope lingered among the moun-
tains, leading a strange, wild life, and nursing in his heart the
fierce desire for vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told
in the city of the weird figure which was seen prowling about the
suburbs, and which haunted the lonely mountain gorges. Once a
bullet whistled through Stangerson's window and flattened itself
upon the wall within a foot of him. On another occasion, as
Drebber passed under a cliff a great boulder crashed down on
him, and he only escaped a terrible death by throwing himself
upon his face. The two young Mormons were not long in discov-
ering the reason of these attempts upon their lives, and led
repeated expeditions into the mountains in the hope of capturing
or killing their enemy, but always without success. Then they
adopted the precaution of never going out alone or after night-
fall, and of having their houses guarded. After a time they were
able to relax these measures, for nothing was either heard or seen
of their opponent, and they hoped that time had cooled his
Far from doing so, it had, if anything, augmented it. The
hunter's mind was of a hard, unyielding nature, and the predomi-
nant idea of revenge had taken such complete possession of it
that there was no room for any other emotion. He was, however
above all things, practical. He soon realized that even his iron
constitution could not stand the incessant strain which he was
putting upon it. Exposure and want of wholesome food were
wearing him out. If he died like a dog among the mountains
what was to become of his revenge then? And yet such a death
was sure to overtake him if he persisted. He felt that that was to
play his enemy's game, so he reluctantly returned to the old
Nevada mines, there to recruit his health and to amass money
enough to allow him to pursue his object without privation.
His intention had been to be absent a year at the most, but a
combination of unforeseen circumstances prevented his leaving
the mines for nearly five. At the end of that time, however, his
memory of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were quite as
keen as on that memorable night when he had stood by John
Ferrier's grave. Disguised, and under an assumed name, he
returned to Salt Lake City, careless what became of his own life,
as long as he obtained what he knew to be justice. There he
found evil tidings awaiting him. There had been a schism among
the Chosen People a few months before, some of the younger
members of the Church having rebelled against the authority of
the Elders, and the result had been the secession of a certain
number of the malcontents, who had left Utah and become
Gentiles. Among these had been Drebber and Stangerson; and no
one knew whither they had gone. Rumour reported that Drebber
had managed to convert a large part of his property into money,
and that he had departed a wealthy man, while his companion,
Stangerson, was comparatively poor. There was no clue at all,
however, as to their whereabouts.
Many a man, however vindictive, would have abandoned all
thought of revenge in the face of such a difficulty, but Jefferson
Hope never faltered for a moment. With the small competence
he possessed, eked out by such employment as he could pick up,
he travelled from town to town through the United States in
quest of his enemies. Year passed into year, his black hair turned
grizzled, but still he wandered on, a human bloodhound, with his
mind wholly set upon the one object to which he had devoted his
life. At last his perseverance was rewarded. It was but a glance
of a face in a window, but that one glance told him that Cleve-
land in Ohio possessed the men whom he was in pursuit of. He
returned to his miserable lodgings with his plan of vengeance all
arranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, looking from his
window, had recognized the vagrant in the street, and had read
murder in his eyes. He hurried before a justice of the peace
accompanied by Stangerson, who had become his private secre-
tary, and represented to him that they were in danger of their
lives from the jealousy and hatred of an old rival. That evening
Jefferson Hope was taken into custody, and not being able to
find sureties, was detained for some weeks. When at last he was
liberated it was only to find that Drebber's house was deserted,
and that he and his secretary had departed for Europe.
Again the avenger had been foiled, and again his concentrated
hatred urged him to continue the pursuit. Funds were wanting,
however, and for some time he had to return to work, saving
every dollar for his approaching journey. At last, having col-
lected enough to keep life in him, he departed for Europe, and
tracked his enemies from city to city, working his way in any
menial capacity, but never overtaking the fugitives. When he
reached St. Petersburg, they had departed for Paris; and when he
followed them there, he learned that they had just set off for
Copenhagen. At the Danish capital he was again a few days late,
for they had journeyed on to London, where he at last succeeded
in running them to earth. As to what occurred there, we cannot
do better than quote the old hunter's own account, as duly
recorded in Dr. Watson's Journal, to which we are already under
A Continuation of the Reminiscences of
John Watson, M.D.
Our prisoner's furious resistance did not apparently indicate any
ferocity in his disposition towards ourselves, for on finding
himself powerless, he smiled in an affable manner, and ex-
pressed his hopes that he had not hurt any of us in the scuffle. "I
guess you're going to take me to the police-station," he re-
marked to Sherlock Holmes "My cab's at the door. If you'll
loose my legs I'll walk down to it. I'm not so light to lift as I
used to be."
Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances, as if they thought
this proposition rather a bold one; but Holmes at once took the
prisoner at his word, and loosened the towel which we had
bound round his ankles. He rose and stretched his legs, as
though to assure himself that they were free once more. I re-
member that I thought to myself, as I eyed him, that I had
seldom seen a more powerfully built man; and his dark, sun-
burned face bore an expression of determination and energy
which was as formidable as his personal strength.
"If there's a vacant place for a chief of the police, I reckon
you are the man for it," he said, gazing with undisguised
admiration at my fellow-lodger. "The way you kept on my trail
was a caution."
"You had better come with me," said Holmes to the two
"I can drive you," said Lestrade.
"Good! and Gregson can come inside with me. You too,
Doctor. You have taken an interest in the case, and may as well
stick to us."
I assented gladly, and we all descended together. Our prisoner
made no attempt at escape, but stepped calmly into the cab
which had been his, and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the
box, whipped up the horse, and brought us in a very short time
to our destination. We were ushered into a small chamber, where
a police inspector noted down our prisoner's name and the names
of the men with whose murder he had been charged. The official
was a white-faced, unemotional man, who went through his
duties in a dull, mechanical way. "The prisoner will be put
before the magistrates in the course of the week," he said; "in
the meantime, Mr. Jefferson Hope, have you anything that you
wish to say? I must warn you that your words will be taken
down, and may be used against you."
"I've got a good deal to say," our prisoner said slowly. "I
want to tell you gentlemen all about it."
"Hadn't you better reserve that for your trial?" asked the
"I may never be tried," he answered. "You needn't look
startled. It isn't suicide I am thinking of. Are you a doctor?" He
turned his fierce dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question.
"Yes, I am," I answered.
"Then put your hand here," he said, with a smile, motioning
with his manacled wrists towards his chest.
I did so; and became at once conscious of an extraordinary
throbbing and commotion which was going on inside. The walls
of his chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would
do inside when some powerful engine was at work. In the silence
of the room I could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise
which proceeded from the same source.
"Why," I cried, "you have an aortic aneurism!"
"That's what they call it," he said, placidly. "I went to a
doctor last week about it, and he told me that it is bound to burst
before many days passed. It has been getting worse for years. I
got it from overexposure and under-feeding among the Salt Lake
Mountains. I've done my work now, and I don't care how soon I
go, but I should like to leave some account of the business
behind me. I don't want to be remembered as a common
The inspector and the two detectives had a hurried discussion
as to the advisability of allowing him to tell his story.
"Do you consider, Doctor, that there is immediate danger?"
the former asked.
"Most certainly there is," I answered.
"In that case it is clearly our duty, in the interests of justice,
to take his statement," said the inspector. "You are at liberty,
sir, to give your account, which I again warn you will be taken
"I'll sit down, with your leave," the prisoner said, suiting the
action to the word. "This aneurism of mine makes me easily
tired, and the tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended
matters. I'm on the brink of the grave, and I am not likely to lie
to you. Every word I say is the absolute truth, and how you use
it is a matter of no consequence to me."
With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back in his chair and
began the following remarkable statement. He spoke in a calm
and methodical manner, as though the events which he narrated
were commonplace enough. I can vouch for the accuracy of the
subjoined account, for I have had access to Lestrade's notebook
in which the prisoner's words were taken down exactly as they
"It don't much matter to you why I hated these men," he
said; "it's enough that they were guilty of the death of two
human beings -- a father and daughter -- and that they had, there-
fore, forfeited their own lives. After the lapse of time that has
passed since their crime, it was impossible for me to secure a
conviction against them in any court. I knew of their guilt
though, and I determined that I should be judge, jury, and
executioner all rolled into one. You'd have done the same, if you
have any manhood in you, if you had been in my place.
"That girl that I spoke of was to have married me twenty
years ago. She was forced into marrying that same Drebber, and
broke her heart over it. I took the marriage ring from ber dead
finger, and I vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that
very ring, and that his last thoughts should be of the crime for
which he was punished. I have carried it about with me, and
have followed him and his accomplice over two continents until I
caught them. They thought to tire me out, but they could not do
it. If I die to-morrow, as is likely enough, I die knowing that my
work in this world is done, and well done. They have perished,
and by my hand. There is nothing left for me to hope for, or to
"They were rich and I was poor, so that it was no easy matter
for me to follow them. When I got to London my pocket was
about empty, and I found that I must turn my hand to something
for my living. Driving and riding are as natural to me as walk-
ing, so I applied at a cab-owner's office, and soon got employ-
ment. I was to bring a certain sum a week to the owner, and
whatever was over that I might keep for myself. There was
seldom much over, but I managed to scrape along somehow. The
hardest job was to learn my way about, for I reckon that of all
the mazes that ever were contrived, this city is the most confus-
ing. I had a map beside me, though, and when once I had
spotted the principal hotels and stations, I got on pretty well.
"It was some time before I found out where my two gentle-
men were living; but I inquired and inquired until at last I
dropped across them. They were at a boarding-house at Cam-
berwell, over on the other side of the river. When once I found
them out, I knew that I had them at my mercy. I had grown my
beard, and there was no chance of their recognizing me. I would
dog them and follow them until I saw my opportunity. I was
determined that they should not escape me again.
"They were very near doing it for all that. Go where they
would about London, I was always at their heels. Sometimes I
followed them on my cab, and sometimes on foot, but the former
was the best, for then they could not get away from me.
"It was only early in the morning or late at night that I could
earn anything, so that I began to get behindhand with my em-
ployer. I did not mind that, however, as long as I could lay my
hand upon the men I wanted.
"They were very cunning, though. They must have thought
that there was some chance of their being followed, for they
would never go out alone, and never after nightfall. During two
weeks I drove behind them every day, and never once saw them
separate. Drebber himself was drunk half the time, but Stangerson
was not to be caught napping. I watched them late and early, but
never saw the ghost of a chance; but I was not discouraged, for
something told me that the hour had almost come. My only fear
was that this thing in my chest might burst a little too soon and
leave my work undone.
"At last, one evening I was driving up and down Torquay
Terrace, as the street was called in which they boarded, when I
saw a cab drive up to their door. Presently some luggage was
brought out and after a time Drebber and Stangerson followed it,
and drove off. I whipped up my horse and kept within sight of
them, feeling very ill at ease, for I feared that they were going to
shift their quarters. At Euston Station they got out, and I left a
boy to hald my horse and followed them on to the platform. I
heard them ask for the Liverpool train, and the guard answer that
one had just gone. and there would not be another for some
hours. Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but Drebber was
rather pleased than otherwise. I got so close to them in the bustle
that I could hear every word that passed between them. Drebber
said that he had a little business of his own to do, and that if the
other would wait for him he would soon rejoin him. His compan-
ion remonstrated with him, and reminded him that they had
resolved to stick together. Drebber answered that the matter was
a delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not catch what
Stangerson said to that, but the otber burst out swearing, and
reminded him that he was nothing more than his paid servant,
and that he must not presume to dictate to him. On that the
secretary gave it up as a bad job, and simply bargained with him
that if he missed the last train he should rejoin him at Halliday's
Private Hotel; to which Drebber answered that he would be back
on the platform before eleven, and made his way out of the
"The moment for which I had waited so long had at last
come. I had my enemies within my power. Together they could
protect each other, but singly they were at my mercy. I did not
act, however, with undue precipitation. My plans were already
formed. There is no satisfaction in vengeance unless the offender
has time to realize who it is that strikes him, and why retribution
has come upon him. I had my plans arranged by which I should
have the opportunity of making the man who had wronged me
understand that his old sin had found him out. It chanced that
some days before a gentleman who had been engaged in looking
over some houses in the Brixton Road had dropped the key of
one of them in my carriage. It was claimed that same evening,
and returned; but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it, and
had a duplicate constructed. By means of this I had access to at
least one spot in this great city where I could rely upon being
free from interruption. How to get Drebber to that house was the
difficult problem which I had now to solve.
"He walked down the road and went into one or two liquor
shops, staying for nearly half an hour in the last of them. When
he came out. he staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty
well on. There was a hansom just in front of me, and he hailed
it. I followed it so close that the nose of my horse was within a
yard of his driver the whole way. We rattled across Waterloo
Bridge and through miles of streets, until, to my astonishment,
we found ourselves back in the terrace in which he had boarded.
I could not imagine what his intention was in returning there; but
I went on and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or so from the
house. He entered it, and his hansom drove away. Give me a
glass of water. if you please. My mouth gets dry with the
I handed him the glass, and he drank it down.
"That's better," he said. "Well, I waited tor a quarter of an
hour, or more, when suddenly there came a noise like people
struggling inside the house. Next moment the door was flung
open and two men appeared, one of whom was Drebber, and the
other was a young chap whom I had never seen before. This
fellow had Drebber by the collar, and when they came to the
head of the steps he gave him a shove and a kick which sent him
half across the road. 'You hound!' he cried, shaking his stick at
him: 'I'll teach you to insult an honest girl!' He was so hot that I
think he would have thrashed Drebber with his cudgel. only that
the cur staggered away down the road as fast as his legs would
carry him. He ran as far as the corner, and then seeing my cab,
he hailed me and jumped in. 'Drive me to Halliday's Private
Hotel,' said he.
"When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart jumped so
with joy that I feared lest at this last moment my aneurism might
go wrong. I drove along slowly, weighing in my own mind what
it was best to do. I might take him right out into the country, and
there in some deserted lane have my last interview with him. I
had almost decided upon this, when he solved the problem for
me. The craze for drink had seized him again, and he ordered me
to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in, leaving word that I
should wait for him. There he remained until closing time. and
when he came out he was so far gone that I knew the game was
in my own hands.
"Don't imagine that I intended to kill him in cold blood. It
would only have been rigid justice if I had done so, but I could
not bring myself to do it. I had long determined that he should
have a show for his life if he chose to take advantage of it.
Among the many billets which I have filled in America during
my wandering life, I was once janitor and sweeper-out of the
laboratory at York College. One day the professor was lecturing
on poisons, and he showed his students some alkaloid, as he
called it, which he had extracted from some South American
arrow poison, and which was so powerful that the least grain
meant instant death. I spotted the bottle in which this preparation
was kept, and when they were all gone, I helped myself to a
little of it. I was a fairly good dispenser, so I worked this
alkaloid into small, soluble pills, and each pill I put in a box
with a similar pill made without the poison. I determined at the
time that when I had my chance my gentlemen should each have
a draw out of one of these boxes, while I ate the pill that
remained. It would be quite as deadly and a good deal less noisy
than firing across a handkerchief. From that day I had always my
pill boxes about with me. and the time had now come when I
was to use them.
"It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild, bleak night,
blowing hard and raining in torrents. Dismal as it was outside. I
was glad within -- so glad that I could have shouted out from
pure exultation. If any of you gentlemen have ever pined for a
thing, and longed for it during twenty long years, and then
suddenly found it within your reach, you would understand my
feelings. I lit a cigar, and puffed at it to steady my nerves, but
my hands were trembling and my temples throbbing with excite-
ment. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier and sweet Lucy
looking at me out of the darkness and smiling at me, just as plain
as I see you all in this room. All the way they were ahead of me,
one on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the house in the
"There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to be heard,
except the dripping of the rain. When I looked in at the window,
I found Drebber all huddled together in a drunken sleep. I shook
him by the arm, 'It's time to get out.' I said.
" 'All right, cabby.' said he.
"I suppose he thought we had come to the hotel that he had
mentioned, for he got out without another word, and followed
me down the garden. I had to walk beside him to keep him
steady, for he was still a little top-heavy. When we came to the
door, I opened it and led him into the front room. I give you my
word that all the way, the father and the daughter were walking
in front of us.
" 'It's infernally dark,' said he, stamping about.
" 'We'll soon have a light,' I said, striking a match and
putting it to a wax candle which I had brought with me. 'Now,
Enoch Drebber,' I continued, turning to him, and holding the
light to my own face, 'who am l?'
"He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes for a moment,
and then I saw a horror spring up in them, and convulse his
whole features, which showed me that he knew me. He stag-
gered back with a livid face, and I saw the perspiration break out
upon his brow, while his teeth chattered in his head. At the sight
I leaned my back against the door and laughed loud and long. I
had always known that vengeance would be sweet, but I had
never hoped for the contentment of soul which now possessed
" 'You dog!' I said; 'I have hunted you from Salt Lake City to
St. Petersburg, and you have always escaped me. Now, at last
your wanderings have come to an end, for either you or I shall
never see to-morrow's sun rise.' He shrunk still farther away as I
spoke, and I could see on his face that he thought I was mad. So
I was for the time. The pulses in my temples beat like sledge-
hammers, and I believe I would have had a fit of some sort if the
blood had not gushed from my nose and relieved me.
" 'What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?' I cried, locking
the door, and shaking the key in his face. 'Punishment has been
slow in coming, but it has overtaken you at last.' I saw his
coward lips tremble as I spoke. He would have begged for his
life, but he knew well that it was useless.
" 'Would you murder me?' he stammered.
" 'There is no murder,' I answered. 'Who talks of murdering
a mad dog? What mercy had you upon my poor darling, when
you dragged her from her slaughtered father, and bore her away
to your accursed and shameless harem?'
" 'It was not I who killed her father,' he cried.
" 'But it was you who broke her innocent heart,' I shrieked,
thrusting the box before him. 'Let the high God judge between
us. Choose and eat. There is death in one and life in the other. I
shall take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice upon the
earth, or if we are ruled by chance.'
"He cowered away with wild cries and prayers for mercy, but
I drew my knife and held it to his throat until he had obeyed me.
Then I swallowed the other, and we stood facing one another in
silence for a minute or more, waiting to see which was to live
and which was to die. Shall I ever forget the look which came
over his face when the first warning pangs told him that the
poison was in his system? I laughed as I saw it, and held Lucy's
marriage ring in front of his eyes. It was but for a moment, for
the action of the alkaloid is rapid. A spasm of pain contorted his
features; he threw his hands out in front of him, staggered, and
then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily upon the floor. I turned him
over with my foot, and placed my hand upon his heart. There
was no movement. He was dead!
"The blood had been streaming from my nose, but I had taken
no notice of it. I don't know what it was that put it into my head
to write upon the wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous
idea of setting the police upon a wrong track, for I felt light-
hearted and cheerful. I remember a German being found in New
York with RACHE written up above him, and it was argued at
the time in the newspapers that the secret societies must have
done it. I guessed that what puzzled the New Yorkers would
puzzle the Londoners, so I dipped my finger in my own blood
and printed it on a convenient place on the wall. Then I walked
down to my cab and found that there was nobody about, and that
the night was still very wild. I had driven some distance, when I
put my hand into the pocket in which I usually kept Lucy's ring,
and found that it was not there. I was thunderstruck at this, for it
was the only memento that I had of her. Thinking that I might
have dropped it when I stooped over Drebber's body, I drove
back, and leaving my cab in a side street, I went boldly up to the
house -- for I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the ring.
When I arrived there, I walked right into the arms of a police-
officer who was coming out, and only managed to disarm his
suspicions by pretending to be hopelessly drunk.
"That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end. All I had to
do then was to do as much for Stangerson, and so pay off John
Ferrier's debt. I knew that he was staying at Halliday's Private
Hotel, and I hung about all day, but he never came out. I fancy
that he suspected something when Drebber failed to put in an
appearance. He was cunning, was Stangerson, and always on his
guard. If he thought he could keep me off by staying indoors he
was very much mistaken. I soon found out which was the
window of his bedroom, and early next morning I took advan-
tage of some ladders which were lying in the lane behind the
hotel, and so made my way into his room in the gray of the
dawn. I woke him up and told him that the hour had come when
he was to answer for the life he had taken so long before. I
described Drebber's death to him, and I gave him the same
choice of the poisoned pills. Instead of grasping at the chance of
safety which that offered him, he sprang from his bed and flew
at my throat. In self-defence I stabbed him to the heart. It would
have been the same in any case, for Providence would never
have allowed his guilty hand to pick out anything but the poison.
"I have little more to say, and it's as well, for I am about
done up. I went on cabbing it for a day or so, intending to keep
at it until I could save enough to take me back to America. I was
standing in the yard when a ragged youngster asked if there was
a cabby there called Jefferson Hope, and said that his cab was
wanted by a gentleman at 22lB, Baker Street. I went round
suspecting no harm, and the next thing I knew, this young man
here had the bracelets on my wrists, and as neatly shackled as
ever I saw in my life. That's the whole of my story, gentlemen.
You may consider me to be a murderer; but I hold that I am just
as much an officer of justice as you are."
So thrilling had the man's narrative been and his manner was
so impressive that we had sat silent and absorbed. Even the
professional detectives, blase' as they were in every detail of
crime, appeared to be keenly interested in the man's story. When
he finished, we sat for some minutes in a stillness which was
only broken by the scratching of Lestrade's pencil as he gave the
finishing touches to his shorthand account.
"There is only one point on which I should like a little more
information," Sherlock Holmes said at last. "Who was your
accomplice who came for the ring which I advertised?"
The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. "I can tell my
own secrets," he said, "but I don't get other people into trouble.
I saw your advertisement, and I thought it might be a plant, or it
might be the ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered to go
and see. I think you'll own he did it smartly."
"Not a doubt of that," said Holmes, heartily.
"Now, gentlemen," the inspector remarked gravely, "the
forms of the law must be complied with. On Thursday the
prisoner will be brought before the magistrates, and your atten-
dance will be required. Until then I will be responsible for him."
He rang the bell as he spoke, and Jefferson Hope was led off by
a couple of warders, while my friend and I made our way out of
the station and took a cab back to Baker Street.
We had all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon
the Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no occa-
sion for our testimony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in
hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned before a tribunal
where strict justice would be meted out to him. On the very night
after his capture the aneurism burst, and he was found in the
morning stretched upon the floor of the cell, with a placid smile
upon his face, as though he had been able in his dying moments
to look back upon a useful life, and on work well done.
"Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death," Holmes
remarked, as we chatted it over next evening. "Where will their
grand advertisement be now?"
"I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture,"
"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,"
returned my companion, bitterly. "The question is, what can
you make people believe that you have done? Never mind," he
continued, more brightly, after a pause. "I would not have
missed the investigation for anything. There has been no better
case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several
most instructive points about it."
"Simple!" I ejaculated.
"Well, really, it can hardly be described as otherwise," said
Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my surprise. "The proof of its
intrinsic simplicity is, that without any help save a few very
ordinary deductions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal
within three days."
"That is true," said I.
"I have already explained to you that what is out of the
common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a
problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason
backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy
one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs
of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other
comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason syntheti-
cally for one who can reason analytically."
"I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow you."
"I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it
clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them
will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events
together in their minds, and argue from them that something will
come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told
them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner
consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result.
This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward, or
"I understand," said I.
"Now this was a case in which you were given the result and
had to find everything else for yourself. Now let me endeavour
to show you the different steps in my reasoning. To begin at the
beginning. I approached the house, as you know, on foot, and
with my mind entirely free from all impressions. I naturally
began by examining the roadway, and there, as I have already
explained to you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which, I
ascertained by inquiry, must have been there during the night. I
satisfied myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by the
narrow gauge of the wheels. The ordinary London growler is
considerably less wide than a gentleman's brougham.
"This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly down
the garden path, which happened to be composed of a clay soil,
peculiarly suitable for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared
to you to be a mere trampled line of slush, but to my trained eyes
every mark upon its surface had a meaning. There is no branch
of detective science which is so important and so much neglected
as the art of tracing footsteps. Happily, I have always laid great
stress upon it, and much practice has made it second nature to
me. I saw the heavy footmarks of the constables, but I saw also
the track of the two men who had first passed through the
garden. It was easy to tell that they had been before the others,
because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by the
others coming upon the top of them. In this way my second link
was formed, which told me that the nocturnal visitors were two
in number, one remarkable for his height (as I calculated from
the length of his stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to
judge from the small and elegant impression left by his boots.
"On entering the house this last inference was confirmed. My
well-booted man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done the
murder, if murder there was. There was no wound upon the dead
man's person, but the agitated expression upon his face assured
me that he had foreseen his fate before it came upon him. Men
who die from heart disease, or any sudden natural cause, never
by any chance exhibit agitation upon their features. Having
sniffed the dead man's lips, I detected a slightly sour smell, and
I came to the conclusion that he had had poison forced upon
him. Again, I argued that it had been forced upon him from the
hatred and fear expressed upon his face. By the method of
exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis
would meet the facts. Do not imagine that it was a very unheard-of
idea. The forcible administration of poison is by no means a new
thing in criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of
Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once to any toxicologist.
"And now came the great question as to the reason why.
Robbery had not been the object of the murder, for nothing was
taken. Was it politics, then, or was it a woman? That was the
question which confronted me. I was inclined from the first to
the latter supposition. Political assassins are only too glad to do
their work and to fly. This murder had, on the contrary, been
done most deliberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all
over the room, showing that he had been there all the time. It
must have been a private wrong, and not a political one, which
called for such a methodical revenge. When the inscription was
discovered upon the wall, I was more inclined than ever to my
opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring was
found, however, it settled the question. Clearly the murderer had
used it to remind his victim of some dead or absent woman. It
was at this point that I asked Cregson whether he had inquired in
his telegram to Cleveland as to any particular point in Mr.
Drebber's former career. He answered, you remember, in the
"I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room
which confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderer's height,
and furnished me with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly
cigar and the length of his nails. I had already come to the
conclusion, since there were no signs of a struggle, that the
blood which covered the floor had burst from the murderer's
nose in his excitement. I could perceive that the track of blood
coincided with the track of his feet. It is seldom that any man,
unless he is very full-blooded, breaks out in this way through
emotion, so I hazarded the opinion that the criminal was proba-
bly a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that I had
"Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had
neglected. I telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland,
limiting my inquiry to the circumstances connected with the
marriage of Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive. It told
me that Drebber had already applied for the protection of the law
against an old rival in love, named Jefferson Hope, and that this
same Hope was at present in Europe. I knew now that I held the
clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that remained was to
secure the murderer.
"I had already determined in my own mind that the man who
had walked into the house with Drebber was none other than the
man who had driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me
that the horse had wandered on in a way which would have been
impossible had there been anyone in charge of it. Where, then,
could the driver be, unless he were inside the house? Again, it is
absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry out a deliberate
crime under the very eyes, as it were, of a third person who was
sure to betray him. Lastly, supposing one man wished to dog
another through London, what better means could he adopt than
to turn cabdriver? All these considerations led me to the irresist-
ible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the
jarveys of the Metropolis.
"If he had been one, there was no reason to believe that he
had ceased to be. On the contrary, from his point of view, any
sudden change would be likely to draw attention to himself. He
would probably, for a time at least, continue to perform his
duties. There'was no reason to suppose that he was going under
an assumed name. Why should he change his name in a country
where no one knew his original one? I therefore organized my
street Arab detective corps, and sent them systematically to
every cab proprietor in London until they ferreted out the man
that I wanted. How well they succeeded, and how quickly I took
advantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection. The murder of
Stangerson was an incident which was entirely unexpected, but
which could hardly in any case have been prevented. Through it,
as you know, I came into possession of the pills, the existence of
which I had already surmised. You see, the whole thing is a
chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw."
"It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should be publicly
recognized. You should publish an account of the case. If you
won't, I will for you."
"You may do what you like, Doctor," he answered. "See
here!" he continued, handing a paper over to me, "look at
It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph to which he
pointed was devoted to the case in question.
"The public," it said, "have lost a sensational treat through
the sudden death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the
murder of Mr. Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson.
The details of the case will probably be never known now,
though we are informed upon good authority that the crime was
the result of an old-standing and romantic feud, in which love
and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that both the victims
belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and
Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake City. If
the case has had no other effect, it, at least, brings out in the
most striking manner the efficiency of our detective police force,
and will serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will do
wisely to settle their feuds at home, and not to carry them on to
British soil. It is an open secret that the credit of this smart
capture belongs entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard offi-
cials, Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was apprehended,
it appears, in the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who
has himself, as an amateur, shown some talent in the detective
line and who, with such instructors, may hope in time to attain to
some degree of their skill. It is expected that a testimonial of
some sort will be presented to the two officers as a fitting
recognition of their services."
"Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried Sherlock Holmes
with a laugh. "That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet: to get
them a testimonial!"
"Never mind," I answered; "I have all the facts in my
journal, and the public shall know them. In the meantime you
must make yourself contented by the consciousness of success,
like the Roman miser --
"Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca."
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank