| We were fairly accustomed to receive
weird telegrams at
Baker Street, but I have a particular recollection
of one which
reached us on a gloomy February morning, some seven
years ago, and gave Mr. Sherlock Holmes a puzzled
an hour. It was addressed to him, and ran thus:
me. Terrible misfortune. Right wing three-
quarter missing, indispensable
"Strand postmark, and dispatched ten thirty-six,"
reading it over and over. "Mr. Overton was evidently
bly excited when he sent it, and somewhat incoherent
quence. Well, well, he will be here, I daresay, by
the time I
have looked through the Times, and then we shall know
it. Even the most insignificant problem would be welcome
these stagnant days."
Things had indeed been very slow with us, and
I had learned
to dread such periods of inaction, for I knew by experience
my companion's brain was so abnormally active that
dangerous to leave it without material upon which
to work. For
years I had gradually weaned him from that drug mania
had threatened once to check his remarkable career.
Now I knew
that under ordinary conditions he no longer craved
artificial stimulus, but I was well aware that the
fiend was not
dead but sleeping, and I have known that the sleep
was a light
one and the waking near when in periods of idleness
I have seen
the drawn look upon Holmes's ascetic face, and the
his deep-set and inscrutable eyes. Therefore I blessed
Overton, whoever he might be, since he had come with
enigmatic message to break that dangerous calm which
more peril to my friend than all the storms of his
As we had expected, the telegram was soon followed
sender, and the card of Mr. Cyril Overton, Trinity
Cambridge, announced the arrival of an enormous young
sixteen stone of solid bone and muscle, who spanned
way with his broad shoulders, and looked from one
of us to the
other with a comely face which was haggard with anxiety.
"Mr. Sherlock Holmes?"
My companion bowed.
"I've been down to Scotland Yard, Mr. Holmes.
I saw In-
spector Stanley Hopkins. He advised me to come to
you. He said
the case, so far as he could see, was more in your
line than in
that of the regular police."
"Pray sit down and tell me what is the matter."
"It's awful, Mr. Holmes -- simply awful! I
wonder my hair
isn't gray. Godfrey Staunton -- you've heard of him,
He's simply the hinge that the whole team turns on.
spare two from the pack, and have Godfrey for my three-quarter
line. Whether it's passing, or tackling, or dribbling,
one to touch him, and then, he's got the head, and
can hold us
all together. What am I to do? That's what I ask you,
Holmes. There's Moorhouse, first reserve, but he is
trained as a
half, and he always edges right in on to the scrum
keeping out on the touchline. He's a fine place-kick,
but then he has no judgment, and he can't sprint for
Morton or Johnson, the Oxford fliers, could romp round
Stevenson is fast enough, but he couldn't drop from
five line, and a three-quarter who can't either punt
or drop isn't
worth a place for pace alone. No, Mr. Holmes, we are
unless you can help me to find Godfrey Staunton."
My friend had listened with amused surprise
to this long
speech, which was poured forth with extraordinary
earnestness, every point being driven home by the
slapping of a
brawny hand upon the speaker's knee. When our visitor
silent Holmes stretched out his hand and took down
of his commonplace book. For once he dug in vain into
mine of varied information.
"There is Arthur H. Staunton, the rising young
he, "and there was Henry Staunton, whom I helped to
Godfrey Staunton is a new name to me."
It was our visitor's turn to look surprised.
"Why, Mr. Holmes, I thought you knew things,"
said he. "I
suppose, then, if you have never heard of Godfrey
you don't know Cyril Overton either?"
Holmes shook his head good humouredly.
"Great Scott!" cried the athlete. "Why, I was
first reserve for
England against Wales, and I've skippered the 'Varsity
year. But that's nothing! I didn't think there was
a soul in
England who didn't know Godfrey Staunton, the crack
quarter, Cambridge, Blackheath, and five Internationals.
Lord! Mr. Holmes, where have you lived?"
Holmes laughed at the young giant's naive astonishment.
"You live in a different world to me, Mr. Overton
-- a sweeter
and healthier one. My ramifications stretch out into
tions of society, but never, I am happy to say, into
sport, which is the best and soundest thing in England.
your unexpected visit this morning shows me that even
world of fresh air and fair play, there may be work
for me to do.
So now, my good sir, I beg you to sit down and to
slowly and quietly, exactly what it is that has occurred,
you desire that I should help you."
Young Overton's face assumed the bothered look
of the man
who is more accustomed to using his muscles than his
by degrees, with many repetitions and obscurities
which I may
omit from his narrative, he laid his strange story
"It's this way, Mr. Holmes. As I have said,
I am the skipper
of the Rugger team of Cambridge 'Varsity, and Godfrey
is my best man. To-morrow we play Oxford. Yesterday
came up, and we settled at Bentley's private hotel.
o'clock I went round and saw that all the fellows
had gone to
roost, for I believe in strict training and plenty
of sleep to keep a
team fit. I had a word or two with Godfrey before
he turned in.
He seemed to me to be pale and bothered. I asked him
the matter. He said he was all right -- just a touch
of headache. I
bade him good-night and left him. Half an hour later,
tells me that a rough-looking man with a beard called
with a note
for Godfrey. He had not gone to bed, and the note
was taken to
his room. Godfrey read it, and fell back in a chair
as if he had
been pole-axed. The porter was so scared that he was
fetch me, but Godfrey stopped him, had a drink of
pulled himself together. Then he went downstairs,
said a few
words to the man who was waiting in the hall, and
the two of
them went off together. The last that the porter saw
they were almost running down the street in the direction
Strand. This morning Godfrey's room was empty, his
never been slept in, and his things were all just
as I had seen
them the night before. He had gone off at a moment's
with this stranger, and no word has come from him
since. I don't
believe he will ever come back. He was a sportsman,
Godfrey, down to his marrow, and he wouldn't have
training and let in his skipper if it were not for
some cause that
was too strong for him. No: I feel as if he were gone
and we should never see him again."
Sherlock Holmes listened with the deepest attention
"What did you do?" he asked.
"I wired to Cambridge to learn if anything
had been heard of
him there. I have had an answer. No one has seen him."
"Could he have got back to Cambridge?"
"Yes, there is a late train -- quarter-past
"But, so far as you can ascertain, he did not
"No, he has not been seen."
"What did you do next?"
"I wired to Lord Mount-James."
"Why to Lord Mount-James?"
"Godfrey is an orphan, and Lord Mount-James
is his nearest
relative -- his uncle, I believe."
"Indeed. This throws new light upon the matter.
James is one of the richest men in England."
"So I've heard Godfrey say."
"And your friend was closely related?"
"Yes, he was his heir, and the old boy is nearly
eighty -- cram
full of gout, too. They say he could chalk his billiard-cue
his knuckles. He never allowed Godfrey a shilling
in his life. for
he is an absolute miser, but it will all come to him
"Have you heard from Lord Mount-James?"
"What motive could your friend have in going
"Well, something was worrying him the night
before, and if it
was to do with money it is possible that he would
make for his
nearest relative, who had so much of it, though from
all I have
heard he would not have much chance of getting it.
not fond of the old man. He would not go if he could
"Well, we can soon determine that. If your
friend was going
to his relative, Lord Mount-James, you have then to
visit of this rough-looking fellow at so late an hour,
agitation that was caused by his coming."
Cyril Overton pressed his hands to his head.
"I can make
nothing of it," said he.
"Well, well, I have a clear day, and I shall
be happy to look
into the matter," said Holmes. "I should strongly
you to make your preparations for your match without
to this young gentleman. It must, as you say, have
overpowering necessity which tore him away in such
and the same necessity is likely to hold him away.
Let us step
round together to the hotel, and see if the porter
can throw any
fresh light upon the matter."
Sherlock Holmes was a past-master in the art
of putting a
humble witness at his ease, and very soon, in the
Godfrey Staunton's abandoned room, he had extracted
the porter had to tell. The visitor of the night before
was not a
gentleman, neither was he a workingman. He was simply
the porter described as a "medium-looking chap," a
fifty, beard grizzled, pale face, quietly dressed.
himself to be agitated. The porter had observed his
when he had held out the note. Godfrey Staunton had
the note into his pocket. Staunton had not shaken
hands with the
man in the hall. They had exchanged a few sentences,
the porter had only distinguished the one word "time."
they had hurried off in the manner described. It was
past ten by the hall clock.
"Let me see," said Holmes, seating himself
bed. "You are the day porter. are you not?"
"Yes, sir, I go off duty at eleven."
"The night porter saw nothing, I suppose?"
"No, sir, one theatre party came in late. No
"Were you on duty all day yesterday?"
"Did you take any messages to Mr. Staunton?"
"Yes, sir, one telegram."
"Ah! that's interesting. What o'clock was this?"
"Where was Mr. Staunton when he received it?"
"Here in his room."
"Were you present when he opened it?"
"Yes, sir, I waited to see if there was an
"Well, was there?"
"Yes, sir, he wrote an answer."
"Did you take it?"
"No, he took it himself."
"But he wrote it in your presence?"
"Yes, sir. I was standing by the door, and
he with his back
turned to that table. When he had written it he said:
porter. I will take this myself.' "
"What did he write it with?"
"A pen, sir."
"Was the telegraphic form one of these on the
"Yes, sir, it was the top one."
Holmes rose. Taking the forms. he carried them
over to the
window and carefully examined that which was uppermost.
"It is a pity he did not write in pencil,"
said he, throw-
ing them down again with a shrug of disappointment.
you have no doubt frequently observed, Watson, the
sion usually goes through -- a fact which has dissolved
a happy marriage. However, I can find no trace here.
however to perceive that he wrote with a broad-pointed
quill pen, and I can hardly doubt that we will find
impression upon this blotting-pad. Ah, yes, surely
this is the
He tore off a strip of the blotting-paper and
turned towards us
the following hieroglyphic:
Cyril Overton was much excited. "Hold it to
the glass!" he
"That is unnecessary," said Holmes. "The paper
is thin, and
the reverse will give the message. Here it is." He
turned it over,
and we read:
"So that is the tail end of the telegram which
dispatched within a few hours of his disappearance.
There are at
least six words of the message which have escaped
us; but what
remains -- 'Stand by us for God's sake!' -- proves
that this young
man saw a formidable danger which approached him,
which someone else could protect him. 'Us,' mark you!
person was involved. Who should it be but the pale-faced,
bearded man, who seemed himself in so nervous a state?
then, is the connection between Godfrey Staunton and
man? And what is the third source from which each
sought for help against pressing danger? Our inquiry
narrowed down to that."
"We have only to find to whom that telegram
is addressed," I
"Exactly, my dear Watson. Your reflection,
had already crossed my mind. But I daresay it may
have come to
your notice that, if you walk into a postoffice and
demand to see
the counterfoil of another man's message, there may
disinclination on the part of the officials to oblige
you. There is
so much red tape in these matters. However, I have
no doubt that
with a little delicacy and finesse the end may be
Meanwhile, I should like in your presence, Mr. Overton,
through these papers which have been left upon the
There were a number of letters, bills, and
Holmes turned over and examined with quick, nervous
and darting, penetrating eyes. "Nothing here," he
said, at last.
"By the way, I suppose your friend was a healthy young
nothing amiss with him?"
"Sound as a bell."
"Have you ever known him ill?"
"Not a day. He has been laid up with a hack,
and once he
slipped his knee-cap, but that was nothing."
"Perhaps he was not so strong as you suppose.
I should think
he may have had some secret trouble. With your assent,
put one or two of these papers in my pocket, in case
bear upon our future inquiry."
"One moment -- one moment!" cried a querulous
we looked up to find a queer little old man, jerking
in the doorway. He was dressed in rusty black, with
a very broad-
brimmed top-hat and a loose white necktie -- the whole
being that of a very rustic parson or of an undertaker's
Yet, in spite of his shabby and even absurd appearance,
had a sharp crackle, and his manner a quick intensity
"Who are you, sir, and by what right do you
gentleman's papers?" he asked.
"I am a private detective, and I am endeavouring
"Oh, you are, are you? And who instructed you,
"This gentleman, Mr. Staunton's friend, was
referred to me
by Scotland Yard."
"Who are you, sir?"
"I am Cyril Overton."
"Then it is you who sent me a telegram. My
name is Lord
Mount-James. I came round as quickly as the Bayswater
would bring me. So you have instructed a detective?"
"And are you prepared to meet the cost?"
"I have no doubt, sir, that my friend Godfrey,
when we find
him, will be prepared to do that."
"But if he is never found, eh? Answer me that!"
"In that case. no doubt his family --"
"Nothing of the sort, sir!" screamed the little
look to me for a penny -- not a penny! You understand
Detective! I am all the family that this young man
has got, and I
tell you that I am not responsible. If he has any
expectations it is
due to the fact that I have never wasted money, and
I do not
propose to begin to do so now. As to those papers
you are making so free, I may tell you that in case
be anything of any value among them, you will be held
to account for what you do with them."
"Very good, sir," said Sherlock Holmes. "May
I ask, in the
meanwhile, whether you have yourself any theory to
this young man's disappearance?"
"No, sir, I have not. He is big enough and
old enough to look
after himself, and if he is so foolish as to lose
himself, I entirely
refuse to accept the responsibility of hunting for
"I quite understand your position," said Holmes,
mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "Perhaps you don't
derstand mine. Godfrey Staunton appears to have been
man. If he has been kidnapped, it could not have been
anything which he himself possesses. The fame of your
has gone abroad, Lord Mount-James, and it is entirely
that a gang of thieves have secured your nephew in
order to gain
from him some information as to your house, your habits,
The face of our unpleasant little visitor turned
as white as his
"Heavens, sir, what an idea! I never thought
of such villainy!
What inhuman rogues there are in the world! But Godfrey
fine lad -- a staunch lad. Nothing would induce him
to give his
old uncle away. I'll have the plate moved over to
the bank this
evening. In the meantime spare no pains, Mr. Detective!
you to leave no stone unturned to bring him safely
back. As to
money, well, so far as a fiver or even a tenner goes
always look to me."
Even in his chastened frame of mind, the noble
give us no information which could help us, for he
knew little of
the private life of his nephew. Our only clue lay
in the truncated
telegram, and with a copy of this in his hand Holmes
set forth to
find a second link for his chain. We had shaken off
Mount-James, and Overton had gone to consult with
members of his team over the misfortune which had
There was a telegraph-office at a short distance
from the hotel.
We halted outside it.
"It's worth trying, Watson," said Holmes. "Of
a warrant we could demand to see the counterfoils,
but we have
not reached that stage yet. I don't suppose they remember
in so busy a place. Let us venture it."
"I am sorry to trouble you," said he, in his
to the young woman behind the grating; "there is some
mistake about a telegram I sent yesterday. I have
had no answer,
and I very much fear that I must have omitted to put
my name at
the end. Could you tell me if this was so?"
The young woman turned over a sheaf of counterfoils.
"What o'clock was it?" she asked.
"A little after six."
"Whom was it to?"
Holmes put his finger to his lips and glanced
at me. "The last
words in it were 'for God's sake,' " he whispered,
"I am very anxious at getting no answer."
The young woman separated one of the forms.
"This is it. There is no name," said she, smoothing
upon the counter.
"Then that, of course, accounts for my getting
said Holmes. "Dear me, how very stupid of me, to be
Good-morning, miss, and many thanks for having relieved
mind." He chuckled and rubbed his hands when we found
ourselves in the street once more.
"Well?" I asked.
"We progress, my dear Watson, we progress.
I had seven
different schemes for getting a glimpse of that telegram,
could hardly hope to succeed the very first time."
"And what have you gained?"
"A starting-point for our investigation." He
hailed a cab.
"King's Cross Station," said he.
"We have a journey, then?"
"Yes, I think we must run down to Cambridge
the indications seem to me to point in that direction."
"Tell me," I asked, as we rattled up Gray's
Inn Road, "have
you any suspicion yet as to the cause of the disappearance?
don't think that among all our cases I have known
one where the
motives are more obscure. Surely you don't really
he may be kidnapped in order to give information against
"I confess, my dear Watson, that that does
not appeal to me
as a very probable explanation. It struck me, however,
the one which was most likely to interest that exceedingly
pleasant old person."
"It certainly did that; but what are your alternatives?"
"I could mention several. You must admit that
it is curious
and suggestive that this incident should occur on
the eve of this
important match, and should involve the only man whose
ence seems essential to the success of the side. It
may, of course,
be a coincidence. but it is interesting. Amateur sport
is free from
betting, but a good deal of outside betting goes on
public, and it is possible that it might be worth
to get at a player as the ruffians of the turf get
at a race-horse.
There is one explanation. A second very obvious one
is that this
young man really is the heir of a great property,
his means may at present be, and it is not impossible
that a plot to
hold him for ransom might be concocted."
"These theories take no account of the telegram."
"Quite true, Watson. The telegram still remains
the only solid
thing with which we have to deal, and we must not
attention to wander away from it. It is to gain light
purpose of this telegram that we are now upon our
Cambridge. The path of our investigation is at present
but I shall be very much surprised if before evening
we have not
cleared it up, or made a considerable advance along
It was already dark when we reached the old
Holmes took a cab at the station and ordered the man
to drive to
the house of Dr. Leslie Armstrong. A few minutes later,
stopped at a large mansion on the busiest thoroughfare.
shown in, and after a long wait were at last admitted
consulting-room, where we found the doctor seated
It argues the degree in which I had lost touch
profession that the name of Leslie Armstrong was unknown
me. Now I am aware that he is not only one of the
heads of the
medical school of the university, but a thinker of
reputation in more than one branch of science. Yet
knowing his brilliant record one could not fail to
be impressed by
a mere glance at the man, the square, massive face,
eyes under the thatched brows, and the granite moulding
inflexible jaw. A man of deep character, a man with
mind, grim, ascetic, self-contained, formidable --
so I read Dr.
Leslie Armstrong. He held my friend's card in his
he looked up with no very pleased expression upon
"I have heard your name. Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
am aware of your profession -- one of which I by no
"In that, Doctor, you will find yourself in
every criminal in the country," said my friend, quietly.
"So far as your efforts are directed towards
the suppression of
crime, sir, they must have the support of every reasonable
member of the community, though I cannot doubt that
cial machinery is amply sufficient for the purpose.
calling is more open to criticism is when you pry
into the secrets
of private individuals, when you rake up family matters
are better hidden, and when you incidentally waste
the time of
men who are more busy than yourself. At the present
for example, I should be writing a treatise instead
"No doubt, Doctor; and yet the conversation
may prove more
important than the treatise. Incidentally, I may tell
you that we
are doing the reverse of what you very justly blame,
and that we
are endeavouring to prevent anything like public exposure
private matters which must necessarily follow when
case is fairly in the hands of the official police.
You may look
upon me simply as an irregular pioneer, who goes in
front of the
regular forces of the country. I have come to ask
you about Mr.
"What about him?"
"You know him, do you not?"
"He is an intimate friend of mine."
"You are aware that he has disappeared?"
"Ah, indeed!" There was no change of expression
rugged features of the doctor.
"He left his hotel last night -- he has not
been heard of."
"No doubt he will return."
"To-morrow is the 'Varsity football match."
"I have no sympathy with these childish games.
man's fate interests me deeply, since I know him and
The football match does not come within my horizon
"I claim your sympathy, then, in my investigation
Staunton's fate. Do you know where he is?"
"You have not seen him since yesterday?"
"No, I have not."
"Was Mr. Staunton a healthy man?"
"Did you ever know him ill?"
Holmes popped a sheet of paper before the doctor's
"Then perhaps you will explain this receipted bill
guineas, paid by Mr. Godfrey Staunton last month to
Armstrong, of Cambridge. I picked it out from among
upon hls desk."
The doctor flushed with anger.
"I do not feel that there is any reason why
I should render an
explanation to you, Mr. Holmes."
Holmes replaced the bill in his notebook. "If
you prefer a
public explanation, it must come sooner or later,"
said he. "I
have already told you that I can hush up that which
others will be
bound to publish, and you would really be wiser to
take me into
your complete confidence."
"I know nothing about it."
"Did you hear from Mr. Staunton in London?"
"Dear me, dear me -- the postoffice again!"
wearily. "A most urgent telegram was dispatched to
London by Godfrey Staunton at six-fifteen yesterday
evening -- a
telegram which is undoubtedly associated with his
and yet you have not had it. It is most culpable.
I shall certainly
go down to the office here and register a complaint."
Dr. Leslie Armstrong sprang up from behind
his desk, and his
dark face was crimson with fury.
"I'll trouble you to walk out of my house,
sir," said he.
"You can tell your employer, Lord Mount-James, that
I do not
wish to have anything to do either with him or with
No, sir -- not another word!" He rang the bell furiously.
show these gentlemen out!" A pompous butler ushered
verely to the door, and we found ourselves in the
burst out laughing.
"Dr. Leslie Armstrong is certainly a man of
character," said he. "I have not seen a man who, if
he turns his
talents that way, was more calculated to fill the
gap left by the
illustrious Moriarty. And now, my poor Watson, here
stranded and friendless in this inhospitable town,
cannot leave without abandoning our case. This little
opposite Armstrong's house is singularly adapted to
our needs. If
you would engage a front room and purchase the necessaries
the night, I may have time to make a few inquiries."
These few inquiries proved, however, to be
a more lengthy
proceeding than Holmes had imagined, for he did not
the inn until nearly nine o'clock. He was pale and
stained with dust, and exhausted with hunger and fatigue.
supper was ready upon the table, and when his needs
satisfied and his pipe alight he was ready to take
that half comic
and wholly philosophic view which was natural to him
affairs were going awry. The sound of carriage wheels
him to rise and glance out of the window. A brougham
of grays, under the glare of a gas-lamp, stood before
"It's been out three hours," said Holmes, "started
six, and here it is back again. That gives a radius
of ten or
twelve miles, and he does it once, or sometimes twice,
"No unusual thing for a doctor in practice."
"But Armstrong is not really a doctor in practice.
He is a
lecturer and a consultant, but he does not care for
practice, which distracts him from his literary work.
does he make these long journeys, which must be exceedingly
irksome to him, and who is it that he visits?"
"His coachman --"
"My dear Watson, can you doubt that it was
to him that I first
applied? I do not know whether it came from his own
depravity or from the promptings of his master, but
he was rude
enough to set a dog at me. Neither dog nor man liked
the look of
my stick, however, and the matter fell through. Relations
strained after that, and further inquiries out of
the question. All
that I have learned I got from a friendly native in
the yard of our
own inn. It was he who told me of the doctor's habits
and of his
daily journey. At that instant, to give point to his
carriage came round to the door."
"Could you not follow it?"
"Excellent, Watson! You are scintillating this
idea did cross my mind. There is, as you may have
bicycle shop next to our inn. Into this I rushed,
bicycle, and was able to get started before the carriage
out of sight. I rapidly overtook it, and then, keeping
at a discreet
distance of a hundred yards or so,l followed its lights
were clear of the town. We had got well out on the
when a somewhat mortifying incident occurred. The
stopped, the doctor alighted, walked swiftly back
to where I had
also halted, and told me in an excellent sardonic
fashion that he
feared the road was narrow, and that he hoped his
not impede the passage of my bicycle. Nothing could
more admirable than his way of putting it. I at once
rode past the
carriage, and, keeping to the main road, I went on
for a few
miles, and then halted in a convenient place to see
if the carriage
passed. There was no sign of it, however, and so it
evident that it had turned down one of several side
roads which I
had observed. I rode back, but again saw nothing of
and now, as you perceive, it has returned after me.
Of course, I
had at the outset no particular reason to connect
with the disappearance of Godfrey Staunton, and was
clined to investigate them on the general grounds
which concerns Dr. Armstrong is at present of interest
to us, but,
now that I find he keeps so keen a look-out upon anyone
may follow him on these excursions, the affair appears
important, and I shall not be satisfied until I have
"We can follow him tomorrow."
"Can we? It is not so easy as you seem to think.
You are not
familiar with Cambridgeshire scenery, are you? It
does not lend
itself to concealment. All this country that I passed
is as flat and clean as the palm of your hand, and
the man we are
following is no fool, as he very clearly showed to-night.
wired to Overton to let us know any fresh London developments
at this address, and in the meantime we can only concentrate
attention upon Dr. Armstrong, whose name the obliging
lady at the office allowed me to read upon the counterfoil
Staunton's urgent message. He knows where the young
is -- to that I'll swear, and if he knows, then it
must be our own
fault if we cannot manage to know also. At present
it must be
admitted that the odd trick is in his possession,
and, as you are
aware, Watson, it is not my habit to leave the game
And yet the next day brought us no nearer to
the solution of
the mystery. A note was handed in after breakfast,
passed across to me with a smile.
SIR [it ran]:
I can assure
you that you are wasting your time in dogging
my movements. I have,
as you discovered last night, a
window at the back of
my brougham, and if you desire a
twenty-mile ride which
will lead you to the spot from which
you started, you have
only to follow me. Meanwhile, I can
inform you that no spying
upon me can in any way help Mr.
Godfrey Staunton, and
I am convinced that the best service
you can do to that gentleman
is to return at once to London
and to report to your
employer that you are unable to trace
him. Your time in Cambridge
will certainly be wasted.
"An outspoken, honest antagonist is the doctor,"
"Well, well, he excites my curiosity, and I must really
before I leave him."
"His carriage is at his door now," said I.
"There he is
stepping into it. I saw him glance up at our window
as he did so.
Suppose I try my luck upon the bicycle?"
"No, no, my dear Watson! With all respect for
acumen, I do not think that you are quite a match
for the worthy
doctor. I think that possibly I can attain our end
independent explorations of my own. I am afraid that
leave you to your own devices, as the appearance of
ing strangers upon a sleepy countryside might excite
than I care for. No doubt you will find some sights
to amuse you
in this venerable city, and I hope to bring back a
able report to you before evening."
Once more, however, my friend was destined
to be disap-
pointed. He came back at night weary and unsuccessful.
"I have had a blank day, Watson. Having got
general direction, I spent the day in visiting all
the villages upon
that side of Cambridge, and comparing notes with publicans
other local news agencies. I have covered some ground.
ton, Histon, Waterbeach, and Oakington have each been
plored, and have each proved disappointing. The daily
of a brougham and pair could hardly have been overlooked
such Sleepy Hollows. The doctor has scored once more.
a telegram for me?"
"Yes, I opened it. Here it is:
"Ask for Pompey from Jeremy
Dixon, Trinity College.
I don't understand it."
"Oh, it is clear enough. It is from our friend
Overton, and is in
answer to a question from me. I'll just send round
a note to Mr.
Jeremy Dixon, and then I have no doubt that our luck
By the way, is there any news of the match?"
"Yes, the local evening paper has an excellent
account in its
last edition. Oxford won by a goal and two tries.
sentences of the description say:
of the Light Blues may be entirely attributed
to the unfortunate absence of
the crack International, God-
frey Staunton, whose want was
felt at every instant of the
game. The lack of combination
in the three-quarter line and
their weakness both in attack
and defence more than neutral-
ized the efforts of a heavy
and hard-working pack."
"Then our friend Overton's forebodings have
said Holmes. "Personally I am in agreement with Dr.
strong, and football does not come within my horizon.
bed to-night, Watson, for I foresee that to-morrow
may be an
I was horrified by my first glimpse of Holmes
for he sat by the fire holding his tiny hypodermic
associated that instrument with the single weakness
of his nature,
and I feared the worst when I saw it glittering in
his hand. He
laughed at my expression of dismay and laid it upon
"No, no, my dear fellow, there is no cause
for alarm. It is not
upon this occasion the instrument of evil, but it
will rather prove
to be the key which will unlock our mystery. On this
base all my hopes. I have just returned from a small
expedition, and everything is favourable. Eat a good
Watson, for I propose to get upon Dr. Armstrong's
and once on it I will not stop for rest or food until
I run him to
"In that case," said I, "we had best carry
our breakfast with
us, for he is making an early start. His carriage
is at the door."
"Never mind. Let him go. He will be clever
if he can drive
where I cannot follow him. When you have finished,
downstairs with me, and I will introduce you to a
is a very eminent specialist in the work that lies
When we descended I followed Holmes into the
where he opened the door of a loose-box and led out
lop-eared, white-and-tan dog, something between a
beagle and a
"Let me introduce you to Pompey," said he.
"Pompey is the
pride of the local draghounds -- no very great flier,
as his build
will show, but a staunch hound on a scent. Well, Pompey,
may not be fast, but I expect you will be too fast
for a couple of
middle-aged London gentlemen, so I will take the liberty
fastening this leather leash to your collar. Now,
along, and show what you can do." He led him across
doctor's door. The dog sniffed round for an instant,
with a shrill whine of excitement started off down
tugging at his leash in his efforts to go faster.
In half an hour, we
were clear of the town and hastening down a country
"What have you done, Holmes?" I asked.
"A threadbare and venerable device, but useful
sion. I walked into the doctor's yard this morning,
and shot my
syringe full of aniseed over the hind wheel. A draghound
follow aniseed from here to John o' Groat's, and our
Armstrong, would have to drive through the Cam before
would shake Pompey off his trail. Oh, the cunning
is how he gave me the slip the other night."
The dog had suddenly turned out of the main
road into a
grass-grown lane. Half a mile farther this opened
broad road, and the trail turned hard to the right
in the direction
of the town, which we had just quitted. The road took
a sweep to
the south of the town, and continued in the opposite
that in which we started.
"This detour has been entirely for our benefit,
Holmes. "No wonder that my inquiries among those villagers
led to nothing. The doctor has certainly played the
game for all it
is worth, and one would like to know the reason for
elaborate deception. This should be the village of
to the right of us. And, by Jove! here is the brougham
round the corner. Quick, Watson -- quick, or we are
He sprang through a gate into a field, dragging
Pompey after him. We had hardly got under the shelter
hedge when the carriage rattled past. I caught a glimpse,
Armstrong within, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk
hands, the very image of distress. I could tell by
ion's graver face that he also had seen.
"I fear there is some dark ending to our quest,"
said he. "It
cannot be long before we know it. Come, Pompey! Ah,
it is the
cottage in the field!"
There could be no doubt that we had reached
the end of our
journey. Pompey ran about and whined eagerly outside
where the marks of the brougham's wheels were still
to be seen.
A footpath led across to the lonely cottage. Holmes
tied the dog
to the hedge, and we hastened onward. My friend knocked
little rustic door, and knocked again without response.
the cottage was not deserted, for a low sound came
ears -- a kind of drone of misery and despair which
scribably melancholy. Holmes paused irresolute, and
glanced back at the road which he had just traversed.
was coming down it, and there could be no mistaking
"By Jove, the doctor is coming back!" cried
settles it. We are bound to see what it means before
He opened the door, and we stepped into the
hall. The droning
sound swelled louder upon our ears until it became
deep wail of distress. It came from upstairs. Holmes
and I followed him. He pushed open a half-closed door,
both stood appalled at the sight before us.
A woman, young and beautiful, was lying dead
upon the bed.
Her calm, pale face, with dim, wide-opened blue eyes,
upward from amid a great tangle of golden hair. At
the foot of
the bed, half sitting, half kneeling, his face buried
in the clothes,
was a young man, whose frame was racked by his sobs.
absorbed was he by his bitter grief, that he never
looked up until
Holmes's hand was on his shoulder.
"Are you Mr. Godfrey Staunton?"
"Yes, yes, I am -- but you are too late. She
The man was so dazed that he could not be made
stand that we were anything but doctors who had been
sent to his
assistance. Holmes was endeavouring to utter a few
consolation and to explain the alarm which had been
his friends by his sudden disappearance when there
was a step
upon the stairs, and there was the heavy, stern, questioning
of Dr. Armstrong at the door.
"So, gentlemen," said he, "you have attained
your end and
have certainly chosen a particularly delicate moment
intrusion. I would not brawl in the presence of death,
but I can
assure you that if I were a younger man your monstrous
would not pass with impunity."
"Excuse me, Dr. Armstrong, I think we are a
little at cross-
purposes," said my friend, with dignity. "If you could
downstairs with us, we may each be able to give some
the other upon this miserable affair."
A minute later, the grim doctor and ourselves
were in the
"Well, sir?" said he.
"I wish you to understand, in the first place,
that I am not
employed by Lord Mount-James, and that my sympathies
matter are entirely against that nobleman. When a
man is lost it
is my duty to ascertain his fate, but having done
so the matter
ends so far as I am concerned, and so long as there
criminal I am much more anxious to hush up private
than to give them publicity. If, as I imagine, there
is no breach
of the law in this matter, you can absolutely depend
discretion and my cooperation in keeping the facts
out of the
Dr. Armstrong took a quick step forward and
by the hand.
"You are a good fellow," said he. "I had misjudged
thank heaven that my compunction at leaving poor Staunton
alone in this plight caused me to turn my carriage
back and so to
make your acquaintance. Knowing as much as you do,
situation is very easily explained. A year ago Godfrey
lodged in London for a time and became passionately
his landlady's daughter, whom he married. She was
as good as
she was beautiful and as intelligent as she was good.
need be ashamed of such a wife. But Godfrey was the
heir to this
crabbed old nobleman, and it was quite certain that
the news of
his marriage would have been the end of his inheritance.
the lad well, and I loved him for his many excellent
did all I could to help him to keep things straight.
We did our
very best to keep the thing from everyone, for, when
once such a
whisper gets about, it is not long before everyone
has heard it.
Thanks to this lonely cottage and his own discretion,
has up to now succeeded. Their secret was known to
no one save
to me and to one excellent servant, who has at present
assistance to Trumpington. But at last there came
a terrible blow
in the shape of dangerous illness to his wife. It
of the most virulent kind. The poor boy was half crazed
grief, and yet he had to go to London to play this
he could not get out of it without explanations which
expose his secret. I tried to cheer him up by wire,
and he sent
me one in reply, imploring me to do all I could. This
telegram which you appear in some inexplicable way
seen. I did not tell him how urgent the danger was,
knew that he could do no good here, but I sent the
the girl's father, and he very injudiciously communicated
to Godfrey. The result was that he came straight away
state bordering on frenzy, and has remained in the
kneeling at the end of her bed, until this morning
an end to her sufferings. That is all, Mr. Holmes,
and I am
sure that I can rely upon your discretion and that
Holmes grasped the doctor's hand.
"Come, Watson,'' said he, and we passed from
that house of
grief into the pale sunlight of the winter day.