| From the years 1894 to 1901 inclusive, Mr. Sherlock
was a very busy man. It is safe to say that there
was no public
case of any difficulty in which he was not consulted
eight years, and there were hundreds of private cases,
them of the most intricate and extraordinary character.
he played a prominent part. Many startling successes
and a few
unavoidable failures were the outcome of this long
continuous work. As I have preserved very full notes
of all these
cases, and was myself personally engaged in many of
may be imagined that it is no easy task to know which
select to lay before the public. I shall, however.
former rule, and give the preference to those cases
their interest not so much from the brutality of the
crime as from
the ingenuity and dramatic quality of the solution.
reason I will now lay before the reader the facts
Miss Violet Smith. the solitary cyclist of Charlington,
curious sequel of our investigation. which culminated
pected tragedy. It is true that the circumstance did
not admit of
any striking illustration of those powers for which
my friend was
famous, but there were some points about the case
which made it
stand out in those long records of crime from which
I gather the
material for these little narratives.
On refering to my notebook for the year 1895,
I find that it
was upon Saturday, the 23d of April, that we first
heard of Miss
Violet Smilh. Her visit was, I remember, extremely
to Holmes, for he was immersed at the moment in a
abstruse and complicated problem concerning the peculiar
cution to which John Vincent Harden, the well known
millionaire, had been subjected. My friend, who loved
things precision and concentration of thought, resented
which distracted his attention from the matter in
hand. And yet
without a harshness which was foreign to his nature,
impossible to refuse to listen to the story of the
beautiful woman, tall, graceful, and queenly, who
herself at Baker Street late in the evening, and implored
assistance and advice. It was vain to urge that his
already fully occupied, for the young lady had come
determination to tell her story, and it was evident
short of force could get her out of the room until
she had done
so. With a resigned air and a somewhat weary smile,
begged the beautiful intruder to take a seat. and
to inform us
what it was that was troubling her.
"At least it cannot be your health," said he,
as his keen eyes
darted ovel her: "so ardent a bicyclist must be full
She glanlced down in surprise at her own feet,
and I observed
the slight roughening of the side of the sole caused
friction of the edge of the pedal.
"Yes, I bicycle a good deal, Mr. Holmes. and
something to do with my visit to you to-day."
My friend took the lady's ungloved hand, and
with as close an attention and as little sentiment
as a scientist
would show to a specimen.
"You willl cxcuse me. I am sure. It is my business,"
as he dropped it. "I nearly fell into the error of
you were typewriting. Of course, it is obvious that
it is music.
You observe the spatulate finger-ends, Watson, which
mon to both professions? There is a spirituality about
however" -- she gently turned it towards thc light
-- "which the
typewriter does not generate. This lady is a musician."
"Yes, Mr. Holmes, I teach music."
"In the country, I presume, from your complexion."
"Yes, sir, near Farnham, on the borders of
"A beautiful neighbourhood, and full of the
association. You remember, Watson, that it was near
we took Archie Stamford, the forger. Now, Miss Violet,
has happened to you, near Farnham, on the borders
The young lady, with great clearness and composure,
the following curious statement:
"My father is dead, Mr. Holmes. He was James
conducted the orchestra at the old Imperial Theatre.
and I were left without a relation in the world except
Ralph Smith, who went to Africa twenty-five years
ago, and we
have never had a word from him since. When father
were left very poor, but one day we were told that
there was an
advertisement in the Times, inquiring for our whereabouts.
can imagine how excited we were, for we thought that
had left us a fortune. We went at once to the lawyer
was given in the paper. There we met two gentlemen,
Carruthers and Mr. Woodley, who were home on a visit
South Africa. They said that my uncle was a friend
that he had died some months before in great poverty
nesburg, and that he had asked them with his last
breath to hunt
up his relations, and see that they were in no want.
strange to us that Uncle Ralph, who took no notice
of us when
he was alive should be so careful to look after us
when he was
dead, but Mr. Carruthers explained that the reason
was that my
uncle had just heard of the death of his brother,
and so felt
responsible for our fate."
"Excuse me." said Holmes. "When was this interview?"
"Last December -- four months ago."
"Mr. Woodley seemed to me to be a most odious
was for ever making eyes at me -- a coarse, puffy-faced,
moustached young man, with his hair plastered down
side of his forehead. I thought that he was perfectly
hateful -- and
I was sure that Cyril would not wish me to know such
"Oh, Cyril is his name!" said Holmes, smiling.
The young lady blushed and laughed.
"Yes, Mr. Holmes, Cyril Morton, an electrical
we hope to be married at the end of the summer. Dear
did I get talking about him? What I wished to say
was that Mr.
Woodley was perfectly odious, but that Mr. Carruthers,
a much older man, was more agreeable. He was a dark,
clean-shaven, silent person, but he had polite manners
pleasant smile. He inquired how we were left, and
that we were very poor, he suggested that I should
teach music to his only daughter, aged ten. I said
that I did not
like to leave my mother, on which he suggested that
I should go
home to her every week-end, and he offered me a hundred
year, which was certainly splendid pay. So it ended
accepting, and I went down to Chiltern Grange, about
from Farnham. Mr. Carruthers was a widower, but he
engaged a lady housekeeper, a very respectable, elderly
called Mrs. Dixon, to look after his establishment.
The child was
a dear, and everything promised weli. Mr. Carruthers
kind and very musical, and we had most pleasant evenings
together. Every week-end I went home to my mother
"The first flaw in my happiness was the arrival
of the red-
moustached Mr. Woodley. He came for a visit of a week,
oh! it seemed three months to me. He was a dreadful
person -- a
bully to everyone else, but to me something infinitely
made odious love to me, boasted of his wealth, said
that if I
married him I could have the finest diamonds in London,
finally, when I would have nothing to do with him,
he seized me
in his arms one day after dinner -- he was hideously
strong -- and
swore that he would not let me go until I had kissed
Carruthers came in and tore him from me, on which
upon his own host, knocking him down and cutting his
That was the end of his visit, as you can imagine.
apologized to me next day, and assured me that I should
be exposed to such an insult again. I have not seen
"And now, Mr. Holmes, I come at last to the
which has caused me to ask your advlce to-day. You
that every Saturday forenoon I ride on my bicycle
Station, in order to get the 12:22 to town. The road
Chiltern Grange is a lonely one, and at one spot it
so, for it lies for over a mile between Charlington
one side and the woods which lie round Charlington
Hall upon the
other. You could not find a more lonely tract of road
and it is quite rare to meet so much as a cart, or
a peasant, until
you reach the high road near Crooksbury Hill. Two
weeks ago I
was passing this place, when I chanced to look back
shoulder, and about two hundred yards behind me I
saw a man,
also on a bicycle. He seemed to be a middle-aged man,
short, dark beard. I looked back before I reached
the man was gone, so I thought no more about it. But
imagine how surprised I was, Mr. Holmes, when, on
on the Monday, I saw the same man on the same stretch
My astonishment was increased when the incident occurred
exactly as before, on the following Saturday and Monday.
always kept his distance and did not molest me in
any way, but
still it certainly was very odd. I mentioned it to
who seemed interested in what I said, and told me
that he had
ordered a horse and trap, so that in future I should
not pass over
these lonely roads without some companion.
"The horse and trap were to have come this
week, but for
some reason they were not delivered, and again I had
to cycle to
the station. That was this morning. You can think
that I looked
out when I came to Charlington Heath, and there, sure
was the man, exactly as he had been the two weeks
always kept so far from me that I could not clearly
see his face,
but it was certainly someone whom I did not know.
dressed in a dark suit with a cloth cap. The only
thing about his
face that I could clearly see was his dark beard.
To-day I was not
alarmed, but I was filled with curiosity, and I determined
out who he was and what he wanted. I slowed down my
chine, but he slowed down his. Then I stopped altogether,
stopped also. Then I laid a trap for him. There is
a sharp turning
of the road, and I pedalled very quickly round this,
and then I
stopped and waited. I expected him to shoot round
and pass me
before he could stop. But he never appeared. Then
I went back
and looked round the corner. I could see a mile of
road, but he
was not on it. To make it the more extraordinary,
there was no
side road at this point down which he could have gone."
Holmes chuckled and rubbed his hands. "This
presents some features of its own," said he. "How
elapsed between your turning the corner and your discovery
the road was clear?"
"Two or three minutes."
"Then he could not have retreated down the
road, and you say
that there are no side roads?"
"Then he certainly took a footpath on one side
or the other."
"It could not have been on the side of the
heath, or I should
have seen him."
"So, by the process of exclusion, we arrive
at the fact that he
made his way toward Charlington Hall, which, as I
is situated in its own grounds on one side of the
"Nothing, Mr. Holmes, save that I was so perplexed
that I felt
I should not be happy until I had seen you and had
Holmes sat in silence for some little time.
"Where is the gentleman to whom you are engaged?"
asked at last.
"He is in the Midland Electrical Company, at
"He would not pay you a surprise visit?"
- "Oh, Mr. Holmes! As if I should not know him!"
"Have you had any other admirers?"
"Several before I knew Cyril."
"There was this dreadful man, Woodley, if you
can call him
"No one else?"
Our fair client seemed a little confused.
"Who was he?" asked Holmes.
"Oh, it may be a mere fancy of mine; but it
had seemed to me
sometimes that my employer, Mr. Carruthers, takes
a great deal
of interest in me. We are thrown rather together.
I play his
accompaniments in the evening. He has never said anything.
He is a perfect gentleman. But a girl always knows."
"Ha!" Holmes looked grave. "What does he do
for a living?"
"He is a rich man."
"No carriages or horses?"
"Well, at least he is fairly well-to-do. But
he goes into the
city two or three times a week. He is deeply interested
African gold shares."
"You will let me know any fresh development,
Miss Smith. I
am very busy just now, but I will find time to make
inquiries into your case. In the meantime, take no
letting me know. Good-bye, and I trust that we shall
nothing but good news from you."
"It is part of the settled order of Nature
that such a girl should
have followers," said Holmes, as he pulled at his
pipe. "but for choice not on bicycles in lonely country
Some secretive lover, beyond all doubt. But there
and suggestive details about the case. Watson."
"That he should appear only at that point?"
"Exactly. Our first effort must be to find
who are the tenants
of Charlington Hall. Then, again, how about the connection
between Carruthers and Woodley, since they appear
to be men of
such a different type? How came they both to be so
looking up Ralph Smith's relations? One more point.
of a menage is it which pays double the market price
governess but does not keep a horse, although six
miles from the
station? Odd, Watson -- very odd!"
"You will go down?"
"No, my dear fellow, you will go down. This
may be some
trifling intrigue, and I cannot break my other important
for the sake of it. On Monday you will arrive early
you will conceal yourself near Charlington Heath;
you will ob-
serve these facts for yourself, and act as your own
advises. Then, having inquired as to the occupants
of the Hall,
you will come back to me and report. And now, Watson,
another word of the matter until we have a few solid
stones on which we may hope to get across to our solution."
We had ascertained from the lady that she went
down upon the
Monday by the train which leaves Waterloo at 9:50,
so I started
early and caught the 9:13. At Farnham Station I had
culty in being directed to Charlington Heath. It was
to mistake the scene of the young lady's adventure,
for the road
runs between the open heath on one side and an old
upon the other, surrounding a park which is studded
nificent trees. There was a main gateway of lichen-studded
stone, each side pillar surmounted by mouldering heraldic
blems, but besides this central carriage drive I observed
points where there were gaps in the hedge and paths
through them. The house was invisible from the road,
surroundings all spoke of gloom and decay.
The heath was covered with golden patches of
gorse, gleaming magnificently in the light of the
sunshine. Behind one of these clumps I took up my
as to command both the gateway of the Hall and a long
the road upon either side. It had been deserted when
I leift it, but
now I saw a cyclist riding down it from the opposite
that in which I had come. He was clad in a dark suit,
and I saw
that he had a black beard. On reaching the end of
grounds, he sprang from his machine and led it through
a gap in
the hedge, disappearing from my view.
A quarter of an hour passed, and then a second
peared. This time it was the young lady coming from
I saw her look about her as she came to the Charlington
An instant later the man emerged from his hiding-place,
upon his cycle, and followed her. In all the broad
those were the only moving figures, the graceful girl
straight upon her machine, and the man behind her
over his handle-bar with a curiously furtive suggestion
movement. She locked back at him and slowed her pace.
slowed also. She stopped. He at once stopped, too,
hundred yards behind her. Her next movement was as
pected as it was spirited. She suddenly whisked her
and dashed straight at him. He was as quick as she,
and darted off in desperate flight. Presently she
came back up the
road again, her head haughtily in the air, not deigning
any further notice of her silent attendant. He had
turned also, and
still kept his distance until the curve of the road
hid them from
I remained in my hiding-place, and it was well
that I did so,
for presently the man reappeared, cycling slowly back.
in at the Hall gates, and dismounted from his machine.
minutes I could see him standing among the trees.
were raised, and he seemed to be settling his necktie.
mounted his cycle and rode away from me down the drive
towards the Hall. I ran across the heath and peered
trees. Far away I could catch glimpses of the old
with its bristling Tudor chimneys, but the drive ran
dense shrubbery, and I saw no more of my man.
However, it seemed to me that I had done a
morning's work, and I walked back in high spirits
The local house agent could tell me nothing about
Hall, and referred me to a well known firm in Pall
Mall. There I
halted on my way home, and met with courtesy from
sentative. No, I could not have Charlington Hall for
I was just too late. It had been let about a month
Williamson was the name of the tenant. He was a respectable,
elderly gentleman. The polite agent was afraid he
could say no
more, as the affairs of his clients were not matters
Mr. Sherlock Holmes listened with attention
to the long report
which I was able to present to him that evening, but
it did not
elicit that word of curt praise which I had hoped
for and should
have valued. On the contrary. his austere face was
severe than usual as he commented upon the things
that I had
done and the things that I had not.
"Your hiding-place, my dear Watson, was very
should have been behind the hedge, then you would
have had a
close view of this interesting person. As it is, you
hundreds of yards away and can tell me even less than
She thinks she does not know the man; I am convinced
Why, otherwise, should he be so desperately anxious
should not get so near him as to see his features?
You describe him
as bending over the handle-bar. Concealment again,
you see. You
really have done remarkably badly. He returns to the
house, and you
want to find out who he is. You come to a London house
"What should I have done?" I cried, with some
"Gone to the nearest public-house. That is
the centre of
country gossip. They would have told you every name,
master to the scullery-maid. Williamson? It conveys
my mind. If he is an elderly man he is not this active
sprints away from that young lady's athletic pursuit.
we gained by your expedition? The knowledge that the
story is true. I never doubted it. That there is a
between the cyclist and the Hall. I never doubted
That the Hall is tenanted by Williamson. Who's the
that? Well, well, my dear sir, don't look so depressed.
do little more until next Saturday, and in the meantime
make one or two inquiries myself."
Next morning, we had a note from Miss Smith,
shortly and accurately the very incidents which I
had seen, but
the pith of the letter lay in the postscript:
I am sure that you will
respect my confidence, Mr.
Holmes, when I tell you that my
place here has become
difficult, owing to the fact that
my employer has proposed
marriage to me. I am convinced
that his feelings are most
deep and most honourable. At the
same time, my promise is
of course given. He took my refusal
very seriously, but also
very gently. You can understand,
however, that the situa-
tion is a little strained.
"Our young friend seems to be getting into deep
Holmes, thoughtfully, as he finished the letter. "The
tainly presents more features of interest and more
development than I had originally thought. I should
be none the
worse for a quiet, peaceful day in the country, and
I am inclined
to run down this afternoon and test one or two theories
Holmes's quiet day in the country had a singular
for he arrived at Baker Street late in the evening,
with a cut lip
and a discoloured lump upon his forehead, besides
a general air
of dissipation which would have made his own person
object of a Scotland Yard investigation. He was immensely
tickled by his own adventures and laughed heartily
as he re-
"I get so little active exercise that it is
always a treat," said
he. "You are aware that I have some proficiency in
the good old
British sport of boxing. Occasionally, it is of service;
example, I should have come to very ignominious grief
I begged him to tell me what had occurred.
"I found that country pub which I had already
to your notice, and there I made my discreet inquiries.
I was in
the bar, and a garrulous landlord was giving me all
wanted. Williamson is a white-bearded man, and he
with a small staff of servants at the Hall. There
is some rumor
that he is or has been a clergyman, but one or two
his short residence at the Hall struck me as peculiarly
clesiastical. I have already made some inquiries at
agency, and they tell me that there was a man of that
orders, whose career has been a singularly dark one.
lord further informed me that there are usually weekend
visitors -- 'a warm lot, sir' -- at the Hall, and especially one gentleman
red moustache, Mr. Woodley by name, who was always
We had got as far as this, when who should walk in
gentleman himself, who had been drinking his beer
in the tap-
room and had heard the whole conversation. Who was
did I want? What did I mean by asking questions? He
had a fine
flow of language, and his adjectives were very vigorous.
ended a string of abuse by a vicious backhander, which
I failed to
entirely avoid. The next few minutes were delicious.
It was a
straight left against a slogging ruffian. I emerged
as you see me.
Mr. Woodley went home in a cart. So ended my country
and it must be confessed that, however enjoyable,
my day on the
Surrey border has not been much more profitable than
The Thursday brought us another letter from
You will not be surprised,
Mr. Holmes [said she] to hear
that I am leaving Mr. Carruthers's
employment. Even the
high pay cannot reconcile me
to the discomforts of my
situation. On Saturday I come
up to town, and I do not
intend to return. Mr. Carruthers
has got a trap, and so the
dangers of the lonely road,
if there ever were any dangers,
are now over.
As to the special
cause of my leaving, it is not merely the
strained situation with Mr.
Carruthers, but it is the reap-
pearance of that odious man,
Mr. Woodley. He was always
hideous, but he looks more awful
than ever now, for he
appears to have had an accident,
and he is much disfigured.
I saw him out of the window,
but I am glad to say I did not
meet him. He had a long talk
with Mr. Carruthers, who
seemed much excited afterwards.
Woodley must be staying
in the neighbourhood, for he
did not sleep here, and yet I
caught a glimpse of him again
this morning, slinking about
in the shrubbery. I would sooner
have a savage wild animal
loose about the place. I loathe
and fear him more than I can
say. How can Mr. Carruthers
endure such a creature for a
moment? However, all my troubles
will be over on Saturday.
"So I trust, Watson, so I trust," said Holmes,
is some deep intrigue going on round that little woman,
and it is
our duty to see that no one molests her upon that
last journey. I
think, Watson, that we must spare time to run down
Saturday morning and make sure that this curious and
investigation has no untoward ending."
I confess that I had not up to now taken a
very serious view of
the case, which had seemed to me rather grotesque
than dangerous. That a man should lie in wait for
and follow a
very handsome woman is no unheard-of thing, and if
he has so
little audacity that he not only dared not address
her, but even
fled from her approach. he was not a very formidable
The ruffian Woodley was a very different person, but,
one occasion, he had not molested our client, and
now he visited
the house of Carruthers without intruding upon her
man on the bicycle was doubtless a member of those
parties at the Hall of which the publican had spoken,
but who he
was, or what he wanted, was as obscure as ever. It
severity of Holmes's manner and the fact that he slipped
revolver into his pocket before leaving our rooms
pressed me with the feeling that tragedy might prove
behind this curious train of events.
A rainy night had been followed by a glorious
the heath-covered countryside. with the glowing clumps
ering gorse, seemed all the more beautiful to eyes
weary of the duns and drabs and slate grays of London.
and I walked along the broad, sandy road inhaling
morning air and rejoicing in the music of the birds
and the fresh
breath of the spring. From a rise of the road on the
Crooksbury Hill, we could see the grim Hall bristling
amidst the ancient oaks, which, old as they were,
younger than the building which they surrounded. Holmes
down the long tract of road which wound, a reddish
band, between the brown of the heath and the budding
the woods. Far away, a black dot, we could see a vehicle
moving in our direction. Holmes gave an exclamation
"I have given a margin of half an hour," said
he. "If that is
her trap, she must be making for the earlier train.
I fear, Watson,
that she will be past Charlington before we can possibly
From the instant that we passed the rise, we
could no longer
see the vehicle, but we hastened onward at such a
pace that my
sedentary life began to tell upon me, and I was compelled
behind. Holmes, however, was always in training, for
inexhaustible stores of nervous energy upon which
to draw. His
springy step never slowed until suddenly, when he
was a hun-
dred yards in front of me, he halted, and I saw him
throw up his
hand with a gesture of grief and despair. At the same
empty dog-cart, the horse cantering, the reins trailing,
round the curve of the road and rattled swiftly towards
"Too late, Watson, too late!" cried Holmes,
as I ran panting
to his side. "Fool that I was not to allow for that
It's abduction, Watson -- abduction! Murder! Heaven
Block the road! Stop the horse! That's right. Now,
jump in, and
let us see if I can repair the consequences of my
We had sprung into the dog-cart, and Holmes,
the horse, gave it a sharp cut with the whip, and
we flew back
along the road. As we turned the curve, the whole
stretch of road
between the Hall and the heath was opened up. I grasped
"That's the man!" I gasped.
A solitary cyclist was coming towards us. His
head was down
and his shoulders rounded, as he put every ounce of
he possessed on to the pedals. He was flying like
Suddenly he raised his bearded face, saw us close
to him, and
pulled up, springing from his machine. That coal-black
was in singular contrast to the pallor of his face,
and his eyes
were as bright as if he had a fever. He stared at
us and at the
dog-cart. Then a look oF amazement came over his face.
"Halloa! Stop there!" he shouted, holding his
bicycle to block
our road. "Where did you get that dog-cart? Pull up,
yelled, drawing a pistoll from his side pocket. "Pull
up, I say
or, by George, I'll put al bullet into your horse."
Holmes threw the reins into my lap and sprang
down from the
"You're the man we want to see. Where is Miss
Smith?" he said, in his quick, clear way.
"That's what I'm asking you. You're in her
ought to know where she is."
"We met the dog-cart on the road. There was
no one in it. We
drove back to help the young lady."
"Good Lord! Good Lord! What shall I do?" cried
in an ecstasy of despair. "They've got her, that hell-hound
Woodley and the blackguard parson. Come, man, come,
really are her friend. Stand by me and we'll save
her, if I have to
leave my carcass in Charllington Wood."
He ran distractedly, his pistol in his hand,
towards a gap in the
hedge. Holmes followed him, and I, leaving the horse
beside the road, followed Holmes.
"This is where they came through," said he,
pointing to the
marks of several feet upon the muddy path. "Halloa!
minute! Who's this in the bush?"
It was a young fellow about seventeen, dressed
like an ostler
with leather cords and gaiters. He lay upon his back,
drawn up, a terrible cut upon his head. He was insensible,
alive. A glance at his wound told me that it had not
"That's Peter, the groom," cried the stranger.
"He drove her.
The beasts have pulled him off and clubbed him. Let
him lie: we
can't do him any good, but' we may save her from the
that can befall a woman."
We ran frantically down the path, which wound
trees. We had reached the shrubbery which surrounded
when Holmes pulled up.
"They didn't go to the house. Here are their
marks on the
left -- here, beside the laurel bushes. Ah! I said
As he spoke, a woman's shrill scream -- a scream
brated with a frenzy of horror -- burst from the thick,
clump of bushes in front of us. It ended suddenly
on its highest
note with a choke and a gurgle.
"This way! This way! They are in the bowling-alley,"
the stranger, darting through the bushes. "Ah, the
dogs! Follow me, gentlemen! Too late! too late! by
We had broken suddenly into a lovely glade
surrounded by ancient trees. On the farther side of
it, under the
shadow of a mighty oak, there stood a singular group
people. One was a woman, our client, drooping and
handkerchief round her mouth. Opposite her stood a
heavy-faced, red-moustached young man, his gaitered
wide, one arm akimbo, the other waving a riding crop,
attitude suggesive of triumphant bravado. Between
them an el-
derly, gray-bearded man, wearing a short surplice
over a light
tweed suit, had evidently just completed the wedding
he pocketed his prayer-book as we appeared, and slapped
sinister bridegroom upon the back in jovial congratulation.
"They're married?" I gasped.
"Come on!" cried our guide; "come on!" He rushed
the glade, Holmes and I at his heels. As we approached,
staggered against the trunk of the tree for support.
the ex-clergyman, bowed to us with mock politeness,
bully, Woodley, advanced with a shout of brutal and
"You can take your beard off, Bob," said he.
"I know you,
right enough. Well, you and your pals have just come
in time for
me to be able to introduce you to Mrs. Woodley."
Our guide's answer was a singular one. He snatched
dark beard which had disguised him and threw it on
disclosing a long, sallow, clean-shaven face below
it. Then he
raised his revolver and covered the young ruffian,
advancing upon him with his dangerous riding crop
"Yes," said our ally, "I am Bob Carruthers.
and I'll see this
woman righted, if I have to swing for it. I told you
what I'd do if
you molested her, and, by the Lord! I'll be as good
"You're too late. She's my wife."
"No, she's your widow."
His revolver cracked, and I saw the blood spurt
from the front
of Woodley's waistcoat. He spun round with a scream
upon his back, his hideous red face turning suddenly
to a dread-
ful mottled pallor. The old man, still clad in his
into such a string of foul oaths as I have never heard,
out a revolver of his own, but, before he could raise
it, he was
looking down the barrel of Holmes's weapon.
"Enough of this," said my friend, coldly. "Drop
Watson, pick it up! Hold it to his head! Thank you.
Carruthers, give me that revolver. We'll have no more
Come, hand it over!"
"Who are you, then?"
"My name is Sherlock Holmes."
"You have heard of me, I see. I will represent
police until their arrival. Here, you!" he shouted
to a frightened
groom, who had appeared at the edge of the glade.
Take this note as hard as you can ride to Farnham."
bled a few words upon a leaf from his notebook. "Give
it to the
superintendent at the police-station. Until he comes,
detain you all under my personal custody."
The strong, masterful personality of Holmes
tragic scene, and all were equally puppets in his
son and Carruthers found themselves carrying the wounded
Woodley into the house, and I gave my arm to the frightened
girl. The injured man was laid on his bed, and at
request I examined him. I carried my report to where
he sat in
the old tapestry-hung dining-room with his two prisoners
"He will live," said I.
"What!" cried Carruthers, springing out of
his chair. "I'll go
upstairs and finish him first. Do you tell me that
that girl, that
angel, is to be tied to Roaring Jack Woodley for life?"
"You need not concern yourself about that,"
"There are two very good reasons why she should, under
circumstances, be his wife. In the first place, we
are very safe in
questioning Mr. Williamson's right to solemnize a
"I have been ordained," cried the old rascal.
"And also unfrocked."
"Once a clergyman, always a clergyman."
"I think not. How about the licence?"
"We had a licence for the marriage. I have
it here in my
"Then you got it by a trick. But, in any case,
marriage is no marriage, but it is a very serious
felony, as you
will discover before you have finished. You'll have
time to think
the point out during the next ten years or so, unless
mistaken. As to you, Carruthers, you would have done
keep your pistol in your pocket."
"I begin to think so, Mr. Holmes, but when
I thought of all
the precaution I had taken to shield this girl --
for I loved her,
Mr. Holmes, and it is the only time that ever I knew
was -- it fairly drove me mad to think that she was
in the power
of the greatest brute and bully in South Africa --
a man whose
name is a holy terror from Kimberley to Johannesburg.
Mr. Holmes, you'll hardly believe it, but ever since
that girl has
been in my employment I never once let her go past
where I knew the rascals were lurking, without following
on my bicycle, just to see that she came to no harm.
my distance from her, and I wore a beard, so that
not recognize me, for she is a good and high-spirited
and she wouldn't have stayed in my employment long
she had thought that I was following her about the
"Why didn't you tell her of her danger?"
"Because then, again, she would have left me,
and I couldn't
bear to face that. Even if she couldn't love me, it
was a great
deal to me just to see her dainty form about the house,
hear the sound of her voice."
"Well," said I, "you call that love, Mr. Carruthers,
should call it selfishness."
"Maybe the two things go together. Anyhow,
I couldn't let
her go. Besides, with this crowd about, it was well
should have someone near to look after her. Then,
cable came, I knew they were bound to make a move."
Carruthers took a telegram from his pocket.
"That's it," said he.
It was short and concise:
THE OLD MAN IS DEAD.
"Hum!" said Holmes. "I think I see how things
I can understand how this message would, as you say,
them to a head. But while you wait, you might tell
me what you
The old reprobate with thc surplice burst into
a volley of bad
"By heaven!" said he, "if you squeal on us,
I'll serve you as you served Jack Woodley. You can
the girl to your heart's content, for that's your
own affair, but if
you round on your pals to this plain-clothes copper,
it will be the
worst day's work that ever you did."
"Your reverence need not be excited," said
a cigarette. "The case is clear enough against you,
and all I ask
is a few details for my private curiosity. However,
if there's any
difficulty in your telling me, I'll do the talking,
and then you
will see how far you have a chance of holding back
In the first place, three of you came from South Africa
game -- you Williamson, you Carruthers, and Woodley."
"Lie number one," said the old man; "I never
saw either of
them until two months ago, and I have never been in
my life, so you can put that in your pipe and smoke
"What he says is true," said Carruthers
"Well, well, two of you came over. His reverence
is our own
homemade article. You had known Ralph Smith in South
You had reason to believe he would not live long.
You found out
that his niece would inherit his fortune. How's that
Carruthers nodded and Williamson swore.
"She was next of kin, no doubt, and you were
aware that the
old fellow would make no will."
"Couldn't read or write, " said Carruthers.
"So you came over, the two of you, and hunted
up the girl
The idea was that one of you was to marry her, and
have a share of the plunder. For some reason, Woodley
chosen as the husband. Why was that?"
"We played cards for her on the voyage. He
"I see. You got the young lady into your service,
Woodley was to do the courting. She recognized the
brute that he was, and would have nothing to do with
Meanwhile, your arrangement was rather upset by the
you had yourself fallen in love with the lady. You
longer bear the idea of this ruffian owning her?"
"No, by George. I couldn't!"
"There was a quarrel between you. He left you
in a rage, and
began to make his own plans independently of you."
"It strikes me, Williamson, there isn't very
much that we can
tell this gentleman," cried Carruthers, with a bitter
we quarreled, and he knocked me down. I am level with
that, anyhow. Then I lost sight of him. That was when
up with this outcast padre here. I found that they
had set up
housekeeping together at this place on the line that
she had to
pass for the station. I kept my eye on her after that,
for I knew
there was some devilry in the wind. I saw them from
time, for I was anxious to know what they were after.
ago Woodley came up to my house with this cable, which
showed that Ralph Smith was dead. He asked me if I
stand by the bargain. I said I would not. He asked
me if I would
marry the girl myself and give him a share. I said
willingly do so, but that she would not have me. He
said, 'Let us
get her married first, and after a week or two she
may see things
a bit different.' I said I would have nothing to do
So he went off cursing, like the foul-mouthed blackguard
was, and swearing that he would have her yet. She
me this week-end, and I had got a trap to take her
to the station,
but I was so uneasy in my mind that I followed her
bicycle. She had got a statt, however, and before
I could catch
her, the mischief was done. The first thing I knew
about it was
when I saw you two gentlemen driving back in her dog-cart."
Holmes rose and tossed the end of his cigarette
into the grate.
"I have been very obtuse, Watson," said he. "When
report you said that you had seen the cyclist as you
arrange his necktie in the shrubbery, that alone should
me all. However, we may congratulate ourselves upon
and, in some respects, a unique case. I perceive three
county constabulary in the drive, and I am glad to
see that the
little ostler is able to keep pace with them, so it
is likely that
neither he nor the interesting bridegroom will be
damaged by their morning's adventures. I think, Watson,
your medical capacity, you might wait upon Miss Smith
her that if she is sufficiently recovered, we shall
be happy to
escort her to her mother's home. If she is not quite
you will find that a hint that we were about to telegraph
young electrician in the Midlands would probably complete
cure. As to you, Mr. Carruthers, I think that you
have done what
you could to make amends for your share in an evil
is my card, sir, and if my evidence can be of help
in your trial, it
shall be at your disposal."
In the whirl of our incessant activity, it has
often been difficult
for me, as the reader has probably observed, to round
narratives, and to give those final details which
the curious might
expect. Each case has been the prelude to another,
and the crisis
once over, the actors have passed for ever out of
our busy lives.
I find, however, a short note at the end of my manuscript
with this case, in which I have put it upon record
Violet Smith did indeed inherit a large fortune, and
that she is
now the wife of Cyril Morton, the senior partner of
Kennedy, the famous Westminster electricians. Williamson
Woodley were both tried for abduction and assault,
getting seven years and the latter ten. Of the fate
of Carruthers, I
have no record, but I am sure that his assault was
very gravely by the court, since Woodley had the reputation
being a most dangerous ruffian, and I think that a
were sufficient to satisfy the demands of justice.