| The police trial had passed, in which the case
of John Douglas
was referred to a higher court. So had the Quarter
which he was acquitted as having acted in self-defense.
"Get him out of England at any cost," wrote
Holmes to the
wife. "There are forces here which may be more dangerous
those he has escaped. There is no safety for your
Two months had gone by, and the case had to
passed from our minds. Then one morning there came
matic note slipped into our letter box. "Dear me,
Dear me!" said this singular epistle. There was neither
scription nor signature. I laughed at the quaint message;
Holmes showed unwonted seriousness.
"Deviltry, Watson!" he remarked, and sat long
with a clouded
Late last night Mrs. Hudson, our landlady,
brought up a
message that a gentleman wished to see Holmes, and
matter was of the utmost importance. Close at the
heels of his
messenger came Cecil Barker, our friend of the moated
House. His face was drawn and haggard.
"I've had bad news -- terrible news, Mr. Holmes,"
"I feared as much," said Holmes.
"You have not had a cable, have you?"
"I have had a note from someone who has."
"It's poor Douglas. They tell me his name is
Edwards; but he
will always be Jack Douglas of Benito Canon to me.
I told you
that they started together for South Africa in the
"The ship reached Cape Town last night. I received
from Mrs. Douglas this morning:
Jack has been lost overboard
in gale off St. Helena. No
one knows how accident occurred.
"Ha! It came like that, did it?" said Holmes
"Well, I've no doubt it was well stage-managed."
"You mean that you think there was no accident?"
"None in the world."
"He was murdered?"
"So I think also. These infernal Scowrers,
this cursed vindic-
tive nest of criminals --"
"No, no, my good sir," said Holmes. "There
is a master
hand here. It is no case of sawed-off shotguns and
shooters. You can tell an old master by the sweep
of his brush.
I can tell a Moriarty when I see one. This crime is
not from America."
"But for what motive?"
"Because it is done by a man who cannot afford
to fail, one
whose whole unique position depends upon the fact
that all he
does must succeed. A great brain and a huge organization
been turned to the extinction of one man. It is crushing
with the triphammer -- an absurd extravagance of energy
the nut is very effectually crushed all the same."
"How came this man to have anything to do with
"I can only say that the first word that ever
came to us of the
business was from one of his lieutenants. These Americans
well advised. Having an English job to do, they took
partnership, as any foreign criminal could do, this
tant in crime. From that moment their man was doomed.
he would content himself by using his machinery in
order to find
their victim. Then he would indicate how the matter
treated. Finally, when he read in the reports of the
failure of this
agent, he would step in himself with a master touch.
me warn this man at Birlstone Manor House that the
danger was greater than the past. Was I right?"
Barker beat his head with his clenched fist
in his impotent
anger. "Do not tell me that we have to sit down under
you say that no one can ever get level with this king
"No, I don't say that," said Holmes, and his
eyes seemed to
be looking far into the future. "I don't say that
he can't be beat.
But you must give me time -- you must give me time!"
We all sat in silence for some minutes while
those fateful eyes
still strained to pierce the veil.