Hound of the
Mr. Sherlock Holmes
| Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late
in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up
all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug
and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night
before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort
which is known as a "Penang law-yer." Just under the head was a broad silver
band nearly an inch across. "To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends
of the C.C.H.," was engraved upon it, with the date "1884." It was just
such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry --
dignified, solid, and reassuring.
"Well, Watson, what do you make of it?"
Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him
no sign of my occupation.
"How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have
eyes in the back of your head."
"I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in
front of me," said he. "But, tell me, Watson, what do you make
of our visitor's stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to
miss him and have no notion of his errand, this accidental
souvenir becomes of importance. Let me hear you reconstruct
the man by an examination of it."
"I think," said I, following as far as I could the methods of
my companion, "that Dr. Mortimer is a successful, elderly
medical man, well-esteemed since those who know him give
him this mark of their appreciation."
"Good!" said Holmes. "Excellent!"
"I think also that the probability is in favour of his being a
country practitioner who does a great deal of his visiting on
"Because this stick, though originally a very handsome one
has been so knocked about that I can hardly imagine a town
practitioner carrying it. The thick-iron ferrule is worn down, so it
is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it."
"Perfectly sound!" said Holmes.
"And then again, there is the 'friends of the C.C.H.' I should
guess that to be the Something Hunt, the local hunt to whose
members he has possibly given some surgical assistance, and
which has made him a small presentation in return."
"Really, Watson, you excel yourself," said Holmes, pushing
back his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I am bound to say that
in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my
own small achievements you have habitually underrated your
own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but
you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing
genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my
dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt."
He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his
words gave me keen pleasure, for I had often been piqued by his
indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had
made to give publicity to his methods. I was proud, too, to think
that I had so far mastered his system as to apply it in a way
which earned his approval. He now took the stick from my hands
and examined it for a few minutes with his naked eyes. Then
with an expression of interest he laid down his cigarette, and
carrying the cane to the window, he looked over it again with a
"Interesting, though elementary," said he as he returned to
his favourite corner of the settee. "There are certainly one or
two indications upon the stick. It gives us the basis for several
"Has anything escaped me?" I asked with some self-
importance. "I trust that there is nothing of consequence which I
"I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions
were erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to
be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided
towards the truth. Not that you are entirely wrong in this in-
stance. The man is certainly a country practitioner. And he walks
a good deal."
"Then I was right."
"To that extent."
"But that was all."
"No, no, my dear Watson, not all -- by no means all. I would
suggest, for example, that a presentation to a doctor is more
likely to come from a hospital than from a hunt, and that when
the initials 'C.C.' are placed before that hospital the words
'Charing Cross' very naturally suggest themselves."
"You may be right."
"The probability lies in that direction. And if we take this as a
working hypothesis we have a fresh basis from which to start our
construction of this unknown visitor."
"Well, then, supposing that 'C.C.H.' does stand for 'Charing
Cross Hospital,' what further inferences may we draw?"
"Do none suggest themselves? You know my methods. Apply
"I can only think of the obvious conclusion that the man has
practised in town before going to the country."
"I think that we might venture a little farther than this. Look
at it in this light. On what occasion would it be most probable
that such a presentation would be made? When would his friends
unite to give him a pledge of their good will? Obviously at the
moment when Dr. Mortimer withdrew from the service of the
hospital in order to start in practice for himself. We know there
has been a presentation. We believe there has been a change
from a town hospital to a country practice. Is it, then, stretching
our inference too far to say that the presentation was on the
occasion of the change?"
"It certainly seems probable."
"Now, you will observe that he could not have been on the
staff of ohe hospital, since only a man well-established in a
London practice could hold such a position, and such a one
would not drift into the country. What was he, then? If he was in
the hospital and yet not on the staff he could only have been a
house-surpeon or a house-physician -- little more than a senior
student. And he left five years ago -- the date is on the stick. So
your grave, middle-aged family practitioner vanishes into thin
air, my dear Watson, and there emerges a young fellow under
thirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor
of a favourite dog, which I should describe roughly as being
larger than a terrier and smaller than a mastiff."
I laughed incredulously as Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his
settee and blew little wavering rings of smoke up to the ceiling.
"As to the latter part, I have no means of checking you," said
I, "but at least it is not difficult to find out a few particulars
about the man's age and professional career." From my small
medical shelf I took down the Medical Directory and turned up
the name. There were several Mortimers, but only one who
could be our visitor. I read his record aloud.
"Mortimer, James, M.R.C.S.,
1882, Grimpen, Dartmoor,
"No mention of that local hunt, Watson," said
Holmes with a