The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles
I find it recorded in my notebook that it was
a bleak and windy
day towards the end of March in the year 1892. Holmes
received a telegram while we sat at our lunch, and
scribbled a reply. He made no remark, but the matter
in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire
afterwards with a
thoughtful face, smoking his pipe, and casting an
glance at the message. Suddenly he turned upon me
mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
"I suppose, Watson, we must look upon you as
a man of
letters," said he. "How do you define the word 'grotesque'?"
"Strange -- remarkable," I suggested.
He shook his head at my definition.
"There is surely something more than that,"
said he; "some
underlying suggestion of the tragic and the terrible.
If you cast
your mind back to some of those narratives with which
afflicted a long-suffering public, you will recognize
the grotesque has deepened into the criminal. Think
of that little
affair of the red-headed men. That was grotesque enough
outset, and yet it ended in a desperate attempt at
again, there was that most grotesque affair of the
pips, which led straight to a murderous conspiracy.
puts me on the alert."
"Have you it there?" I asked.
He read the telegram aloud.
"Have just had most
incredible and grotesque experi-
ence. May I consult you?
"Post-Office, Charing Cross."
"Man or woman?" I asked.
"Oh, man, of course. No woman would ever send
paid telegram. She would have come."
"Will you see him?"
"My dear Watson, you know how bored I have
been since we
locked up Colonel Carruthers. My mind is like a racing
tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected
up with the
work for which it was built. Life is commonplace;
the papers are
sterile; audacity and romance seem to have passed
the criminal world. Can you ask me, then, whether
I am ready to
look into any new problem, however trivial it may
here, unless I am mistaken, is our client."
A measured step was heard upon the stairs,
and a moment
later a stout, tall, gray-whiskered and solemnly respectable
son was ushered into the room. His life history was
written in his
heavy features and pompous manner. From his spats
gold-rimmed spectacles he was a Conservative, a churchman,
good citizen, orthodox and conventional to the last
same amazing experience had disturbed his native composure
and left its traces in his bristling hair, his flushed,
and his flurried, excited manner. He plunged instantly
"I have had a most singular and unpleasant
Holmes," said he. "Never in my life have I been placed
a situation. It is most improper -- most outrageous.
I must insist
upon some explanation." He swelled and puffed in his
"Pray sit down, Mr. Scott Eccles," said Holmes
in a soothing
voice. "May I ask, in the first place, why you came
to me at
"Well, sir, it did not appear to be a matter
the police, and yet, when you have heard the facts,
admit that I could not leave it where it was. Private
are a class with whom I have absolutely no sympathy,
the less, having heard your name --"
"Quite so. But, in the second place, why did
you not come at
"What do you mean?"
Holmes glanced at his watch.
"It is a quarter-past two," he said. "Your
dispatched about one. But no one can glance at your
attire without seeing that your disturbance dates
from the mo-
ment of your waking."
Our client smoothed down his unbrushed hair
and felt his
"You are right, Mr. Holmes. I never gave a
thought to my
toilet. I was only too glad to get out of such a house.
But I have
been running round making inquiries before I came
to you. I
went to the house agents, you know, and they said
Garcia's rent was paid up all right and that everything
order at Wisteria Lodge."
"Come, come, sir," said Holmes, laughing. "You
my friend, Dr. Watson, who has a bad habit of telling
wrong end foremost. Please arrange your thoughts and
know, in their due sequence, exactly what those events
which have sent you out unbrushed and unkempt, with
boots and waistcoat buttoned awry, in search of advice
Our client looked down with a rueful face at
his own uncon-
"I'm sure it must look very bad, Mr. Holmes,
and I am not
aware that in my whole life such a thing has ever
before. But I will tell you the whole queer business,
and when I
have done so you will admit, I am sure, that there
enough to excuse me."
But his narrative was nipped in the bud. There
was a bustle
outside, and Mrs. Hudson opened the door to usher
in two robust
and official-looking individuals, one of whom was
to us as Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard, an energetic,
gallant, and, within his limitations, a capable officer.
hands with Holmes and introduced his comrade as Inspector
Baynes, of the Surrey Constabulary.
"We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes and our
trail lay in
this direction." He turned his bulldog ejes upon our
"Are you Mr. John Scott Eccles, of Popham House, Lee?"
"We have been following you about all the morning."
"You traced him through the telegram, no doubt,"
"Exactly, Mr. Holmes. We picked up the scent
Cross Post-Office and came on here."
"But why do you follow me? What do you want?"
"We wish a statement, Mr. Scott Eccles, as
to the events
which led up to the death last night of Mr. Aloysius
Wisteria Lodge, near Esher."
Our client had sat up with staring eyes and
every tinge of
colour struck from his astonished face.
"Dead? Did you say he was dead?"
"Yes, sir, he is dead."
"But how? An accident?"
"Murder, if ever there was one upon earth."
"Good God! This is awful! You don't mean --
you don't mean
that I am suspected?"
"A letter of yours was found in the dead man's
we know by it that you had planned to pass last night
"So I did."
"Oh, you did, did you?"
Out came the official notebook.
"Wait a bit, Gregson," said Sherlock Holmes.
desire is a plain statement, is it not?"
"And it is my duty to warn Mr. Scott Eccles
that it may be
used against him."
"Mr. Eccles was going to tell us about it when
the room. I think, Watson, a brandy and soda would
do him no
harm. Now, sir, I suggest that you take no notice
of this addition
to your audience, and that you proceed with your narrative
exactly as you would have done had you never been
Our visitor had gulped off the brandy and the
returned to his face. With a dubious glance at the
notebook, he plunged at once into his extraordinary
"I am a bachelor," said he, "and being of a
sociable turn I
cultivate a large number of friends. Among these are
of a retired brewer called Melville, living at Albemarle
Kensington. It was at his table that I met some weeks
young fellow named Garcia. He was, I understood, of
descent and connected in some way with the embassy.
perfect English, was pleasing in his manners, and
looking a man as ever I saw in my life.
"In some way we struck up quite a friendship,
fellow and I. He seemed to take a fancy to me from
the first, and
within two days of our meeting he came to see me at
thing led to another, and it ended in his inviting
me out to spend
a few days at his house, Wisteria Lodge, between Esher
Oxshott. Yesterday evening I went to Esher to fulfil
"He had described his household to me before
I went there.
He lived with a faithful servant, a countryman of
his own, who
looked after all his needs. This fellow could speak
did his housekeeping for him. Then there was a wonderful
he said, a half-breed whom he had picked up in his
could serve an excellent dinner. I remember that he
what a queer household it was to find in the heart
of Surrey, and
that I agreed with him, though it has proved a good
than I thought.
"I drove to the place -- about two miles on
the south side of
Esher. The house was a fair-sized one, standing back
road, with a curving drive which was banked with high
green shrubs. It was an old, tumble-down building
in a crazy
state of disrepair. When the trap pulled up on the
drive in front of the blotched and weather-stained
door, I had
doubts as to my wisdom in visiting a man whom I knew
slightly. He opened the door himself, however, and
wlth a great show of cordiality. I was handed over
manservant, a melancholy, swarthy individual, who
led the way,
my bag in his hand, to my bedroom. The whole place
depressing. Our dinner was tete-a-tete, and though
my host did
his best to be entertaining, his thoughts seemed to
wander, and he talked so vaguely and wildly that I
understand him. He continually drummed his fingers
table, gnawed his nails, and gave other signs of nervous
tience. The dinner itself was neither well served
nor well cooked,
and the gloomy presence of the taciturn servant did
not help to
enliven us. I can assure you that many times in the
course of the
evening I wished that I could invent some excuse which
take me back to Lee.
"One thing comes back to my memory which may
bearing upon the business that you two gentlemen are
ing. I thought nothing of it at the time. Near the
end of dinner a
note was handed in by the servant. I noticed that
after my host
had read it he seemed even more distrait and strange
He gave up all pretence at conversation and sat, smoking
cigarettes, lost in his own thoughts, but he made
no remark as to
the contents. About eleven I was glad to go to bed.
later Garcia looked in at my door -- the room was
dark at the
time -- and asked me if I had rung. I said that I
had not. He
apologized for having disturbed me so late, saying
that it was
nearly one o'clock. I dropped off after this and slept
"And now I come to the amazing part of my tale.
woke it was broad daylight. I glanced at my watch,
and the time
was nearly nine. I had particularly asked to be called
at eight, so
I was very much astonished at this forgetfulness.
I sprang up and
rang for the servant. There was no response. I rang
again, with the same result. Then I came to the conclusion
the bell was out of order. I huddled on my clothes
downstairs in an exceedingly bad temper to order some
water. You can imagine my surprise when I found that
no one there. I shouted in the hall. There was no
answer. Then I
ran from room to room. All were deserted. My host
me which was his bedroom the night before, so I knocked
door. No reply. I turned the handle and walked in.
was empty, and the bed had never been slept in. He
had gone with
the rest. The foreign host, the foreign footman, the
all had vanished in the night! That was the end of
my visit to
Sherlock Holmes was rubbing his hands and chuckling
added this bizarre incident to his collection of strange
"Your experience is, so far as I know, perfectly
he. "May I ask, sir, what you did then?"
"I was furious. My first idea was that I had
been the victim of
some absurd practical joke. I packed my things, banged
door behind me, and set off for Esher, with my bag
in my hand.
I called at Allan Brothers, the chief land agents
in the village,
and found that it was from this firm that the villa
rented. It struck me that the whole proceeding could
for the purpose of making a fool of me, and that the
must be to get out of the rent. It is late in March,
is at hand. But this theory would not work. The agent
obliged to me for my warning, but told me that the
rent had been
paid in advance. Then I made my way to town and called
Spanish embassy. The man was unknown there. After
this I went
to see Melville, at whose house I had first met Garcia,
found that he really knew rather less about him than
Finally when I got your reply to my wire I came out
since I gather that you are a person who gives advice
cases. But now, Mr. Inspector, I understand, from
what you said
when you entered the room, that you can carry the
story on, and
that some tragedy has occurred. I can assure you that
I have said is the truth, and that, outside of what
I have told you,
I know absolutely nothing about the fate of this man.
desire is to help the law in every possible way."
"I am sure of it, Mr. Scott Eccles -- I am
sure of it," said
Inspector Gregson in a very amiable tone. "I am bound
that everything which you have said agrees very closely
facts as they have come to our notice. For example,
that note which arrived during dinner. Did you chance
what became of it?"
"Yes, I did. Garcia rolled it up and threw
it into the fire."
"What do you say to that, Mr. Baynes?"
The country detective was a stout, puffy, red
man, whose face
was only redeemed from grossness by two extraordinarily
eyes, almost hidden behind the heavy creases of cheek
With a slow smile he drew a folded and discoloured
paper from his pocket.
"It was a dog-grate, Mr. Holmes, and he overpitched
picked this out unburned from the back of it."
Holmes smiled his appreciation.
"You must have examined the house very carefully
to find a
single pellet of paper."
"I did, Mr. Holmes. It's my way. Shall I read
it, Mr. Gregson?"
The Londoner nodded.
"The note is written upon ordinary cream-laid
watermark. It is a quarter-sheet. The paper is cut
off in two snips
with a short-bladed scissors. It has been folded over
and sealed with purple wax, put on hurriedly and pressed
with some flat oval object. It is addressed to Mr.
ria Lodge. It says:
"Our own colours,
green and white. Green open, white
shut. Main stair, first
corridor, seventh right, green baize.
It is a woman's writing, done with a sharp-pointed
pen, but the
address is either done with another pen or by someone
else. It is
thicker and bolder, as you see."
"A very remarkable note," said Holmes, glancing
it over. "I
must compliment you, Mr. Baynes, upon your attention
in your examination of it. A few trifling points might
added. The oval seal is undoubtedly a plain sleeve-link
else is of such a shape? The scissors were bent nail
Short as the two snips are, you can distinctly see
the same slight
curve in each."
The country detective chuckled.
"I thought I had squeezed all the juice out
of it, but I see there
was a little over," he said. "I'm bound to say that
nothing of the note except that there was something
on hand, and
that a woman, as usual, was at the bottom of it."
Mr. Scott Eccles had fidgeted in his seat during
"I am glad you found the note, since it corroborates
story," said he. "But I beg to point out that I have
not yet heard
what has happened to Mr. Garcia, nor what has become
"As to Garcia," said Gregson, "that is easily
was found dead this morning upon Oxshott Common, nearly
mile from his home. His head had been smashed to pulp
heavy blows of a sandbag or some such instrument,
crushed rather than wounded. It is a lonely corner,
and there is
no house within a quarter of a mile of the spot. He
ently been struck down first from behind, but his
gone on beating him long after he was dead. It was
furious assault. There are no footsteps nor any clue
"No, there was no attempt at robbery."
"This lis very painful -- very painful and
terrible," said Mr.
Scott Eccles in a querulous voice, "but it is really
hard upon me. I had nothing to do with my host going
off upon a
nocturnal excursion and meeting so sad an end. How
do I come
to be mixled up with the case?"
"Very simply, sir," Inspector Baynes answered.
document found in the pocket of the deceased was a
you saying that you would be with him on the night
of his death.
It was the envelope of this letter which gave us the
name and address. It was after nine this morning when
reached his house and found neither you nor anyone
it. I wired to Mr. Gregson to run you down in London
examined Wisteria Lodge. Then I came into town, joined
Gregson, and here we are."
"I think now," said Gregson, rising, "we had
best put this
matter into an official shape. You will come round
with us to the
station, Mr. Scott Eccles, and let us have your statement
"Certainly, I will come at once. But I retain
Mr. Holmes. I desire you to spare no expense and no
pains to get
at the truth."
My friend turned to the country inspector.
"I suppose that you have no objection to my
with you, Mr. Baynes?"
"Highly honoured, sir, I am sure."
"You appear to have been very prompt and business-like
that you have done. Was there any clue, may I ask,
as to the
exact hour that the man met his death?"
"He had been there since one o'clock.
There was rain about
that time, and his death had certainly been before
"But that is perfectly impossible, Mr.
Baynes," cried our
client. "His voice is unmistakable. I could swear
to it that it was
he who addressed me in my bedroom at that very hour."
"Remarkable, but by no means impossible,"
"You have a clue?" asked Gregson.
"On the face of it the case is not a very complex
it certainly presents some novel and interesting features.
ther knowledge of facts is necessary before I would
give a final and definite opinion. By the way, Mr.
you find anything remarkable besides this note in
tion of the house?"
The detective looked at my friend in a singular
"There were," said he, "one or two vely remarkable
Perhaps when I have finished at the police-station
care to come out and give me your opinion of them."
"I am entirely at your service," said Sherlock
ing the bell. "You will show these gentlemen out,
and kindly send the boy with this telegram. He is
to pay a
We sat for some time in silence after our visitors
Holmes smoked hard, with his brows drawn down over
eyes, and his head thrust forward in the eager way
of the man.
"Well, Watson," he asked, turning suddenly
upon me, "what
do you make of it?"
"I can make nothing of this mystification of
"But the crime?"
"Well, taken with the disappearance of the
ions, I should say that they were in some way concerned
murder and had fled from justice."
"That is certainly a possible point of view.
On the face of it
you must admit, however, that it is very strange that
servants should have been in a conspiracy against
should have attacked him on the one night when he
had a guest.
They had him alone at their mercy every other night
"Then why did they fly?"
"Quite so. Why did they fly? There is a big
fact. Another big
fact is the remarkable experience of our client, Scott
Now, my dear Watson, is it beyond the limits of human
ity to furnish an explanation which would cover both
facts? If it were one which would also admit of the
note with its very curious phraseology, why, then
it would be
worth accepting as a temporary hypothesis. If the
which come to our knowledge all fit themselves into
then our hypothesis may gradually become a solution."
"But what is our hypothesis?"
Holmes leaned back in his chair with half-closed
"You must admit, my dear Watson, that the idea
of a joke is
impossible. There were grave events afoot, as the
and the coaxing of Scott Eccles to Wisteria Lodge
connection with them."
"But what possible connection?"
"Let us take it link by link. There is, on
the face of it
something unnatural about this strange and sudden
between the young Spaniard and Scott Eccles. It was
who forced the pace. He called upon Eccles at the
other end of
London on the very day after he first met him, and
he kept in
close touch with him until he got him down to Esher.
did he want with Eccles? What could Eccles supply?
I see no
charm in the man. He is not particularly intelligent
-- not a man
likely to be congenial to a quick-witted Latin. Why,
then, was he
picked out from all the other people whom Garcia met
larly suited to his purpose? Has he any one outstanding
say that he has. He is the very type of conventional
respectability, and the very man as a witness to impress
Briton. You saw yourself how neither of the inspectors
of questioning his statement, extraordinary as it
"But what was he to witness?"
"Nothing, as things turned out, but everything
had they gone
another way. That is how I read the matter."
"I see, he might have proved an alibi."
"Exactly, my dear Watson; he might have proved
We will suppose, for argument's sake, that the household
Wisteria Lodge are confederates in some design. The
whatever it may be, is to come off, we will say, before
o'clock. By some juggling of the clocks it is quite
they may have got Scott Eccles to bed earlier than
but in any case it is likely that when Garcia went
out of his way
to tell him that it was one it was really not more
than twelve. If
Garcia could do whatever he had to do and be back
by the hour
mentioned he had evidently a powerful reply to any
Here was this irreproachable Englishman ready to swear
court of law that the accused was in his house all
the time. It was
an insurance against the worst."
"Yes, yes, I see that. But how about the disappearance
"I have not all my facts yet, but I do not
think there are any
insuperable difficulties. Still, it is an error to
argue in front of
your data. You find yourself insensibly twisting them
round to fit
"And the message?"
"How did it run? 'Our own colours, green and
like racing. 'Green open, white shut.~ That is clearly
'Main stair, first corridor, seventh right, green
baize.' This is an
assignation. We may find a jealous husband at the
bottom of it
all. It was clearly a dangerous quest. She would not
'Godspeed' had it not been so. 'D' -- that should
be a guide."
"The man was a Spaniard. I suggest that 'D'
Dolores, a common female name in Spain."
"Good, Watson, very good -- but quite inadmissible.
would write to a Spaniard in Spanish. The writer of
this note is
certainly English. Well, we can only possess our souls
tience until this excellent inspector comes back for
we can thank our lucky fate which has rescued us for
a few short
hours from the insufferable fatigues of idleness."
An answer had arrived to Holmes's telegram before
officer had returned. Holmes read it and was about
to place it in
his notebook when he caught a glimpse of my expectant
tossed it across with a laugh.
"We are moving in exalted circles," said he.
The telegram was a list of names and addresses:
Lord Harringby, The
Dingle; Sir George Ffolliott, Oxshott
Towers; Mr. Hynes Hynes, J.P., Purdey
Place; Mr. James
Baker Williams, Forton Old Hall; Mr.
Gable; Rev. Joshua Stone, Nether Walsling.
"This is a very obvious way of limiting our
field of opera-
tions," said Holmes. "No doubt Baynes, with his methodical
mind, has already adopted some similar plan."
"I don't quite understand."
"Well, my dear fellow, we have already arrived
at the conclu-
sion that the message received by Garcia at dinner
appointment or an assignation. Now, if the obvious
reading of it
is correct, and in order to keep this tryst one has
to ascend a
main stair and seek the seventh door in a corridor,
it is perfectly
clear that the house is a very large one. It is equally
this house cannot be more than a mile or two from
since Garcia was walking in that direction and hoped,
to my reading of the facts, to be back in Wisteria
Lodge in time
to avail himself of an alibi, which would only be
valid up to one
o'clock. As the number of large houses close to Oxshott
limited, I adopted the obvious method of sending to
mentioned by Scott Eccles and obtaining a list of
they are in this telegram, and the other end of our
must lie among them."
It was nearly six o'clock before we found ourselves
pretty Surrey village of Esher, with Inspector Baynes
Holmes and I had taken things for the night,
comfortable quarters at the Bull. Finally we set out
company of the detective on our visit to Wisteria
Lodge. lt was a
cold, dark March evening, with a sharp wind and a
beating upon our faces, a fit setting for the wild
which our road passed and the tragic goal to which
it led us.
The Tiger of San Pedro
A cold and melancholy walk of a couple of miles
brought us to
a high wooden gate, which opened into a gloomy avenue
chestnuts. The curved and shadowed drive led us to
a low, dark
house, pitch-black against a slate-coloured sky. From
window upon the left of the door there peeped a glimmer
"There's a constable in possession," said Baynes.
at the window." He stepped across the grass plot and
with his hand on the pane. Through the fogged glass
I dimly saw
a man spring up from a chair beside the fire, and
heard a sharp
cry from within the room. An instant later a white-faced,
breathing policeman had opened the door, the candle
his trembling hand.
"What's the matter, Walters?" asked Baynes
The man mopped his forehead with his handkerchief
a long sigh of relief.
"I am glad you have come, sir. It has been
a long evening,
and l don't think my nerve is as good as it was."
"Your nerve, Walters? I should not have thought
you had a
nerve in your body."
"Well, sir, it's this lonely, silent house
and the queer thing in
the kitchen. Then when you tapped at the window I
had come again."
"That what had come again?"
"The devil, sir, for all I know. It was at
"What was at the window, and when?"
"It was just about two hours ago. The light
was just fading. I
was sitting reading in the chair. I don't know what
made me look
up, but there was a face looking in at me through
the lower pane.
Lord, sir, what a face it was! I'll see it in my dreams."
"Tut, tut, Walters. This is not talk for a
"I know sir, I know; but it shook me sir, and
there's no use
to deny it. it wasn't black, sir, nor was it white,
nor any colour
that I know, but a kind of queer shade like clay with
a splash of
milk in it. Then there was the size of it -- it was
twice yours, sir.
And the look of it -- the great staring goggle eyes,
and the line of
white teeth like a hungry beast. I tell you, sir,
I couldn't move a
finger, nor get my breath, till it whisked away and
Out I ran and through the shrubbery, but thank God
there was no
"If I didn't know you were a good man, Walters,
I should put
a black mark against you for this. If it were the
devil himself a
constable on duty should never thank God that he could
his hands upon him. I suppose the whole thing is not
and a touch of nerves?"
"That, at least, is very easily settled," said
his little pocket lantern. "Yes," he reported, after
a short exami-
nation of the grass bed, "a number twelve shoe, I
should say. If
he was all on the same scale as his foot he must certainly
been a giant."
"What became of him?"
"He seems to have broken through the shrubbery
for the road."
"Well," said the inspector with a grave and
"whoever he may have been, and whatever he may have
he's gone for the present, and we have more immediate
attend to. Now, Mr. Holmes, with your permission,
I will show
you round the house."
The various bedrooms and sitting-rooms
had yielded nothing
to a careful search. Apparently the tenants had brought
nothing with them, and all the furniture down to the
details had been taken over with the house. A good
clothing with the stamp of Marx and Co., High Holborn,
been left behind. Telegraphic inquiries had been already
which showed that Marx knew nothing of his customer
he was a good payer. Odds and ends, some pipes, a
two of them in Spanish, an old-fashioned pinfire revolver,
guitar were among the personal property.
"Nothing in all this," said Baynes, stalking,
candle in hand,
from room to room. "But now, Mr. Holmes, I invite
to the kitchen."
It was a gloomy, high-ceilinged room at the
back of the house,
with a straw litter in one corner, which served apparently
bed for the cook. The table was piled with half-eaten
dirty plates, the debris of last night's dinner.
"Look at this," said Baynes. "What do you make
He held up his candle before an extraordinary
stood at the back of the dresser. It was so wrinkled
and withered that it was difficult to say what it
might have been.
One could but say that it was black and leathery and
that it bore
some resemblance to a dwarfish, human figure. At first,
examined it, I thought that it was a mummified negro
then it seemed a very twisted and ancient monkey.
Finally I was
left in doubt as to whether it was animal or human.
band of white shells was strung round the centre of
"Very interesting -- very interesting, indeed!"
peering at this sinister relic. "Anything more?"
In silence Baynes led the way to the sink and
held forward his
candle. The limbs and body of some large, white bird,
savagely to pieces with the feathers still on, were
littered all over
it. Holmes pointed to the wattles on the severed head.
"A white cock," said he. "Most interesting!
It is really a very
But Mr. Baynes had kept his most sinister exhibit
to the last.
From under the sink he drew a zinc pail which contained
quantity of blood. Then from the table he took a platter
with small pieces of charred bone.
"Something has been killed and something has
We raked all these out of the fire. We had a doctor
morning. He says that they are not human."
Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands.
"I must congratulate you, Inspector, on handling
tive and instructive a case. Your powers, if I may
say so without
offence, seem superior to your opportunities."
Inspector Baynes's small eyes twinkled with
"You're right, Mr. Holmes. We stagnate in the
case of this sort gives a man a chance, and I hope
that I shall
take it. What do you make of these bones?"
"A lamb, I should say, or a kid."
"And the white cock?"
"Curious, Mr. Baynes, very curious. I should
"Yes, sir, there must have been some very strange
with some very strange ways in this house. One of
them is dead.
Did his companions follow him and kill him? If they
should have them, for every port is watched. But my
are different. Yes, sir, my own views are very different."
"You have a theory then?"
"And I'll work it myself, Mr. Holmes. It's
only due to my
own credit to do so. Your name is made, but I have
still to make
mine. I should be glad to be able to say afterwards
that I had
solved it without your help."
Holmes laughed good-humouredly.
"Well, well, Inspector," said he. "Do you follow
and I will follow mine. My results are always very
much at your
service if you care to apply to me for them. I think
that I have
seen all that I wish in this house, and that my time
may be more
profitably employed elsewhere. Au revoir and good
I could tell by numerous subtle signs, which
might have been
lost upon anyone but myself, that Holmes was on a
hot scent. As
impassive as ever to the casual observer, there were
none the less
a subdued eagerness and suggestion of tension in his
eyes and brisker manner which assured me that the
afoot. After his habit he said nothing, and after
mine I asked no
questions. Sufficient for me to share the sport and
humble help to the capture without distracting that
with needless interruption. All would come round to
me in due
I waited, therefore -- but to my ever-deepening
I waited in vain. Day succeeded day, and my friend
took no step
forward. One morning he spent in town, and I learned
casual reference that he had visited the British Museum.
this one excursion, he spent his days in long and
walks, or in chatting with a number of village gossips
acquaintance he had cultivated.
"I'm sure, Watson, a week in the country will
to you," he remarked. "It is very pleasant to see
the first green
shoots upon the hedges and the catkins on the hazels
With a spud, a tin box, and an elementary book on
are instructive days to be spent." He prowled about
equipment himself, but it was a poor show of plants
would bring back of an evening.
Occasionally in our rambles we came across
His fat, red face wreathed itself in smiles and his
glittered as he greeted my companion. He said little
case, but from that little we gathered that he also
dissatisfied at the course of events. I must admit,
however, that I
was somewhat surprised when, some five days after
the crime, I
opened my morning paper to find in large letters:
THE OXSHOTT MYSTERY
ARREST OF SUPPOSED ASSASSIN
Holmes sprang in his chair as if he had been
stung when I read
"By Jove!" he cried. "You don't mean that Baynes
"Apparently," said I as I read the following
was caused in Esher and the neigh-
bouring district when
it was learned late last night that an
arrest had been effected
in connection with the Oxshott
murder. It will be remembered
that Mr. Garcia, of Wiste-
ria Lodge, was found dead
on Oxshott Common, his body
showing signs of extreme
violence, and that on the same
night his servant and
his cook fled, which appeared to show
their participation in
the crime. It was suggested, but never
proved, that the deceased
gentleman may have had valu-
ables in the house, and
that their abstraction was the motive
of the crime. Every effort
was made by Inspector Baynes,
who has the case in hand,
to ascertain the hiding place of
the fugitives, and he
had good reason to believe that they
had not gone far but were
lurking in some retreat which had
been already prepared.
It was certain from the first, how-
ever, that they would
eventually be detected, as the cook,
from the evidence of one
or two tradespeople who have
caught a glimpse of him
through the window, was a man of
most remarkable appearance
-- being a huge and hideous
mulatto, with yellowish
features of a pronounced negroid
type. This man has been
seen since the crime, for he was
detected and pursued by
Constable Walters on the same
evening, when he had the
audacity to revisit Wisteria Lodge.
Inspector Baynes, considering
that such a visit must have
some purpose in view and
was likely, therefore, to be
repeated, abandoned the
house but left an ambuscade in the
shrubbery. The man walked
into the trap and was captured
last night after a struggle
in which Constable Downing was
badly bitten by the savage.
We understand that when the
prisoner is brought before
the magistrates a remand will be
applied for by the police,
and that great developments are
hoped from his capture."
"Really we must see Baynes at once," cried Holmes,
up his hat. "We will just catch him before he starts."
hurried down the village street and found, as we had
that the inspector was just leaving his lodgings.
"You've seen the paper, Mr. Holmes?" he asked,
one out to us.
"Yes, Baynes, I've seen it. Pray don't think
it a liberty if I
give you a word of friendly warning."
"Of warning, Mr. Holmes?"
"I have looked into this case with some care,
and I am not
convinced that you are on the right lines. I don't
want you to
commit yourself too far unless you are sure."
"You're very kind, Mr. Holmes."
"I assure you I speak for your good."
It seemed to me that something like a wink
quivered for an
instant over one of Mr. Baynes's tiny eyes.
"We agreed to work on our own lines, Mr. Holmes.
what I am doing."
"Oh, very good," said Holmes. "Don't blame
"No, sir; I believe you mean well by me. But
we all have our
own systems, Mr. Holmes. You have yours, and maybe
"Let us say no more about it."
"You're welcome always to my news. This fellow
is a perfect
savage, as strong as a cart-horse and as fierce as
the devil. He
chewed Downing's thumb nearly off before they could
him. He hardly speaks a word of English, and we can
nothing out of him but grunts."
"And you think you have evidence that he murdered
"I didn't say so, Mr. Holmes- I didn't say
so. We all have our
little ways. You try yours and I will try mine. That's
Holmes shrugged his shoulders as we walked
"I can't make the man out. He seems to be riding for
Well, as he says, we must each try our own way and
comes of it. But there's something in Inspector Baynes
can't quite understand."
"Just sit down in that chair, Watson," said
when we had returned to our apartment at the Bull.
"I want to
put you in touch with the situation, as I may need
to-night. Let me show you the evolution of this case
so far as I
have been able to follow it. Simple as it has been
in its leading
features, it has none the less presented surprising
the way of an arrest. There are gaps in that direction
have still to fill.
"We will go back to the note which was handed
in to Garcia
upon the evening of his death. We may put aside this
Baynes's that Garcia's servants were concerned in
The proof of this lies in the fact that it was he
who had arranged
for the presence of Scott Eccles, which could only
done for the purpose of an alibi. It was Garcia, then,
who had an
enterprise, and apparently a criminal enterprise,
in hand that
night in the course of which he met his death. I say
because only a man with a criminal enterprise desires
an alibi. Who, then, is most likely to have taken
his life? Surely
the person against whom the criminal enterprise was
far it seems to me that we are on safe ground.
"We can now see a reason for the disappearance
household. They were all confederates in the same
crime. If it came off when Garcia returned, any possible
cion would be warded off by the Englishman's evidence,
would be well. But the attempt was a dangerous one,
Garcia did not return by a certain hour it was probable
own life had been sacrificed. It had been arranged,
that in such a case his two subordinates were to make
prearranged spot where they could escape investigation
and be in
a position afterwards to renew their attempt. That
explain the facts, would it not?"
The whole inexplicable tangle seemed to straighten
me. I wondered, as I always did, how it had not been
"But why should one servant return?"
"We can imagine that in the confusion of flight
precious, something which he could not bear to part
been left behind. That would explain his persistence,
"Well, what is the next step?"
"The next step is the note received by Garcia
at the dinner. It
indicates a confederate at the other end. Now, where
other end? I have already shown you that it could
only lie in
some large house, and that the number of large houses
My first days in this village were devoted to a series
of walks in
which in the intervals of my botanical researches
I made a
reconnaissance of all the large houses and an examination
family history of the occupants. One house, and only
riveted my attention. It is the famous old Jacobean
High Gable, one mile on the farther side of Oxshott,
than half a mile from the scene of the tragedy. The
mansions belonged to prosaic and respectable people
far aloof from romance. But Mr. Henderson, of High
by all accounts a curious man to whom curious adventures
befall. I concentrated my attention, therefore, upon
him and his
"A singular set of people, Watson -- the man
himself the most
singular of them all. I managed to see him on a plausible
but I seemed to read in his dark, deep-set, brooding
eyes that he
was perfectly aware of my true business. He is a man
strong, active, with iron-gray hair, great bunched
brows, the step of a deer, and the air of an emperor
-- a fierce,
masterful man, with a red-hot spirit behind his parchment
He is either a foreigner or has lived long in the
tropics, for he is
yellow and sapless, but tough as whipcord. His friend
secretary, Mr. Lucas, is undoubtedly a foreigner,
wily, suave, and cat-like, with a poisonous gentleness
You see, Watson, we have come already upon two sets
foreigners -- one at Wisteria Lodge and one at High
Gable -- so
our gaps are beginning to close.
"These two men, close and confidential friends,
are the centre
of the household; but there is one other person who
immediate purpose may be even more important. Henderson
two children -- girls of eleven and thirteen. Their
governess is a
Miss Burnet, an Englishwoman of forty or thereabouts.
also one confidential manservant. This little group
forms the real
family, for they travel about together, and Henderson
is a great
traveller, always on the move. It is only within the
weeks that he has returned, after a year's absence,
Gable. I may add that he is enormously rich, and whatever
whims may be he can very easily satisfy them. For
the rest, his
house is full of butlers, footmen, maidservants, and
overfed, underworked staff of a large English country-house.
"So much I learned partly from village gossip
and partly from
my own observation. There are no better instruments
charged servants with a grievance, and I was lucky
find one. I call it luck, but it would not have come
my way had I
not been looking out for it. As Baynes remarks, we
all have our
systems. It was my system which enabled me to find
Warner, late gardener of High Gable, sacked in a moment
temper by his imperious employer. He in turn had friends
the indoor servants who unite in their fear and dislike
master. So I had my key to the secrets of the establishment.
"Curious people, Watson! I don't pretend to
understand it all
yet, but very curious people anyway. It's a double-winged
and the servants live on one side, the family on the
There's no link between the two save for Henderson's
servant, who serves the family's meals. Everything
is carried to
a certain door, which forms the one connection. Governess
children hardly go out at all, except into the garden.
never by any chance walks alone. His dark secretary
is like his
shadow. The gossip among the servants is that their
terribly afraid of something. 'Sold his soul to the
devil in ex-
change for money,' says Warner, 'and expects his creditor
come up and claim his own.' Where they came from,
they are, nobody has an idea. They are very violent.
Henderson has lashed at folk with his dog-whip, and
only his long
purse and heavy compensation have kept him out of
"Well, now, Watson, let us judge the situation
by this new
information. We may take it that the letter came out
strange household and was an invitation to Garcia
to carry out
some attempt which had already been planned. Who wrote
note? It was someone within the citadel, and it was
Who then but Miss Burnet, the governess? All our reasoning
seems to point that way. At any rate, we may take
it as a
hypothesis and see what consequences it would entail.
I may add
that Miss Burnet's age and character make it certain
that my first
idea that there might be a love interest in our story
is out of the
"If she wrote the note she was presumably the
confederate of Garcia. What, then, might she be expected
if she heard of his death? If he met it in some nefarious
prise her lips might be sealed. Still, in her heart,
she must retain
bitterness and hatred against those who had killed
him and would
presumably help so far as she could to have revenge
Could we see her, then, and try to use her? That was
thought. But now we come to a sinister fact. Miss
Burnet has not
been seen by any human eye since the night of the
that evening she has utterly vanished. Is she alive?
perhaps met her end on the same night as the friend
had summoned? Or is she merely a prisoner? There is
which we still have to decide.
"You will appreciate the difficulty of the
There is nothing upon which we can apply for a warrant.
whole scheme might seem fantastic if laid before a
The woman's disappearance counts for nothing, since
extraordinary household any member of it might be
a week. And yet she may at the present moment be in
her life. All I can do is to watch the house and leave
Warner, on guard at the gates. We can't let such a
continue. If the law can do nothing we must take the
"What do you suggest?"
"I know which is her room. It is accessible
from the top of an
outhouse. My suggestion is that you and I go to-night
and see if
we can strike at the very heart of the mystery."
It was not, I must confess, a very alluring
prospect. The old
house with its atmosphere of murder, the singular
inhabitants, the unknown dangers of the approach,
and the fact
that we were putting ourselves legally in a false
combined to damp my ardour. But there was something
ice-cold reasoning of Holmes which made it impossible
from any adventure which he might recommend. One knew
thus, and only thus, could a solution be found. I
clasped his hand
in silence, and the die was cast.
But it was not destined that our investigation
should have so
adventurous an ending. It was about five o'clock,
and the shad-
ows of the March evening were beginning to fall, when
excited rustic rushed into our room.
"They've gone, Mr. Holmes. They went by the
last train. The
lady broke away, and I've got her in a cab downstairs."
"Excellent, Warner!" cried Holmes, springing
to his feet.
"Watson, the gaps are closing rapidly."
In the cab was a woman, half-collapsed from
tion. She bore upon her aquiline and emaciated face
the traces of
some recent tragedy. Her head hung listlessly upon
but as she raised it and turned her dull eyes upon
us I saw that
her pupils were dark dots in the centre of the broad
gray iris. She
was drugged with opium.
"I watched at the gate, same as you advised,
said our emissary, the discharged gardener. "When
came out I followed it to the station. She was like
one walking in
her sleep, but when they tried to get her into the
train she came
to life and struggled. They pushed her into the carriage.
fought her way out again. I took her part, got her
into a cab, and
here we are. I shan't forget the face at the carriage
window as I
led her away. I'd have a short life if he had his
way -- the
black-eyed, scowling, yellow devil."
We carried her upstairs, laid her on the sofa,
and a couple of
cups of the strongest coffee soon cleared her brain
from the mists
of the drug. Baynes had been summoned by Holmes, and
situation rapidly explained to him.
"Why, sir, you've got me the very evidence
I want," said the
inspector warmly, shaking my friend by the hand. "I
was on the
same scent as you from the first."
"What! You were after Henderson?"
"Why, Mr. Holmes, when you were crawling in
bery at High Gable I was up one of the trees in the
saw you down below. It was just who would get his
"Then why did you arrest the mulatto?"
"I was sure Henderson, as he calls himself,
felt that he was
suspected, and that he would lie low and make no move
as he thought he was in any danger. I arrested the
wrong man to
make him believe that our eyes were off him. I knew
be likely to clear off then and give us a chance of
getting at Miss
Holmes laid his hand upon the inspector's shoulder.-
"You will rise high in your profession. You
have instinct and
intuition," said he.
Baynes flushed with pleasure.
"I've had a plain-clothes man waiting at the
station all the
week. Wherever the High Gable folk go he will keep
sight. But he must have been hard put to it when Miss
broke away. However, your man picked her up, and it
well. We can't arrest without her evidence, that is
clear, so the
sooner we get a statement the better."
"Every minute she gets stronger," said Holmes,
the governess. "But tell me, Baynes, who is this man
"Henderson," the inspector answered, "is Don
called the Tiger of San Pedro."
The Tiger of San Pedro! The whole history of
the man came
back to me in a flash. He had made his name as the
and bloodthirsty tyrant that had ever governed any
country with a
pretence to civilization. Strong, fearless, and energetic,
sufficient virtue to enable him to impose his odious
vices upon a
cowering people for ten or twelve years. His name
was a terror
through all Central America. At the end of that time
there was a
universal rising against him. But he was as cunning
as he was
cruel, and at the first whisper of coming trouble
he had secretly
conveyed his treasures aboard a ship which was manned
devoted adherents. It was an empty palace which was
the insurgents next day. The dictator, his two children,
secretary, and his wealth had all escaped them. From
ment he had vanished from the world, and his identity
a frequent subject for comment in the European press.
"Yes, sir, Don Murillo, the Tiger of San Pedro,"
"If you look it up you will find that the San Pedro
green and white, same as in the note, Mr. Holmes.
called himself, but I traced him back, Paris and Rome
Madrid to Barcelona, where his ship came in in '86.
been looking for him all the time for their revenge,
but it is only
now that they have begun to find him out."
"They discovered him a year ago," said Miss
had sat up and was now intently following the conversation.
"Once already his life has been attempted, but some
shielded him. Now, again, it is the noble, chivalrous
has fallen, while the monster goes safe. But another
and yet another, until some day justice will be done;
that is as
certain as the rise of to-morrow's sun." Her thin
and her worn face blanched with the passion of her
"But how come you into this matter Miss Burnet?"
Holmes. "How can an English lady join in such a murderous
"I join in it because there is no other way
in the world by
which justice can be gained. What does the law of
for the rivers of blood shed years ago in San Pedro,
or for the
shipload of treasure which this man has stolen? To
you they are
like crimes committed in some other planet. But we
have learned the truth in sorrow and in suffering.
To us there is
no fiend in hell like Juan Murillo, and no peace in
life while his
victims still cry for vengeance."
"No doubt," said Holmes, "he was as you say
I have heard
that he was atrocious. But how are you affected?"
"I will tell you it all. This villain's policy
was to murder, on
one pretext or another, every man who showed such
he might in time come to be a dangerous rival. My
yes, my real name is Signora Victor Durando -- was
Pedro minister in London. He met me and married me
nobler man never lived upon earth. Unhappily, Murillo
his excellence, recalled him on some pretext, and
had him shot.
With a premonition of his fate he had refused to take
him. His estates were confiscated, and I was left
with a pittance
and a broken heart.
"Then came the downfall af the tyrant. He escaped
have just described. But the many whose lives he had
whose nearest and dearest had suffered torture and
death at his
hands, would not let the matter rest. They banded
into a society which should never be dissolved until
was done. It was my part after we had discovered in
formed Henderson the fallen despot, to attach myself
household and keep the others in touch with his movements.
This I was able to do by securing the position of
governess in his
family. He little knew that the woman who faced him
meal was the woman whose husband he had hurried at
notice into eternity. I smiled on him, did my duty
to his children,
and bided my time. An attempt was made in Paris and
We zig-zagged swiftly here and there over Europe to
the pursuers and finally retulned to this house, which
taken upon his first arrival in England.
"But here also the ministers of justice were
that he would return there, Garcia, who is the son
of the former
highest dignitary in San Pedlro, was waiting with
companions of humble station, all three fired with
reasons for revenge. He could do little during the
Murillo took every precaution and never went out save
satellite Lucas, or Lopez as he was known in the days
greatness. At night, however, he slept alone, and
might find him. On a certain evening, which had been
ranged, I sent my friend final instructions, for the
forever on the alert and continually changed his room.
I was to
see that the doors were open and the signal of a green
light in a window which faced the drive was to give
notice if all
was safe or if the attempt had better be postponed.
"But everything went wrong with us. In some
way I had
excited the suspicion of Lopez, the secretary. He
crept up behind
me and sprang upon me just as I had finished the note.
his master dragged me to my room and held judgment
as a convicted traitress. Then and there they would
their knives into me could they have seen how to escape
consequences of the deed. Finally, after much debate,
concluded that my murder was too dangerous. But they
mined to get rid forever of Garcia. They had gagged
Murillo twisted my arm round until I gave him the
swear that he might have twisted it off had I understood
would mean to Garcia. Lopez addressed the note which
written, sealed it with his sleeve-link, and sent
it by the hand of
the servant, Jose. How they murdered him I do not
that it was Murillo's hand who struck him down, for
remained to guard me. I believe he must have waited
gorse bushes through which the path winds and struck
as he passed. At first they were of a mind to let
him enter the
house and to kill him as a detected burglar; but they
if they were mixed up in an inquiry their own identity
once be publicly disclosed and they would be open
attacks. With the death of Garcia, the pursuit might
such a death might frighten others from the task.
"All would now have been well for them had
it not been for
my knowledge of what they had done. I have no doubt
were times when my life hung in the balance. I was
my room, terrorized by the most horrible threats,
to break my spirit -- see this stab on my shoulder
and the bruises
from end to end of my arms -- and a gag was thrust
mouth on the one occasion when I tried to call from
For five days this cruel imprisonment continued, with
enough food to hold body and soul together. This afternoon
good lunch was brought me, but the moment after I
took it I
knew that I had been drugged. In a sort of dream I
being half-led, half-carried to the carriage; in the
same state I was
conveyed to the train. Only then, when the wheels
moving, did I suddenly realize that my liberty lay
in my own
hands. I sprang out, they tried to drag me back, and
had it not
been for the help of this good man, who led me to
the cab, I
should never have broken away. Now, thank God, I am
their power forever."
We had all listened intently to this remarkable
was Holmes who broke the silence.
"Our difficulties are not over," he remarked,
head. "Our police work ends, but our legal work begins."
"Exactly," said I. "A plausible lawyer could
make it out as
an act of self-defence. There may be a hundred crimes
background, but it is only on this one that they can
"Come, come," said Baynes cheerily, "I think
better of the
law than that. Self-defence is one thing. To entice
a man in cold
blood with the object of murdering him is another,
danger you may fear from him. No, no, we shall all
when we see the tenants of High Gable at the next
It is a matter of history, however, that a little
time was still to
elapse before the Tiger of San Pedro should meet with
deserts. Wily and bold, he and his companion threw
suer off their track by entering a lodging-house in
Street and leaving by the back-gate into Curzon Square.
that day they were seen no more in England. Some six
afterwards the Marquess of Montalva and Signor Rulli,
tary, were both murdered in their rooms at the Hotel
Madrid. The crime was ascribed to Nihilism, and the
were never arrested. Inspector Baynes visited us at
with a printed description of the dark face of the
of the masterful features, the magnetic black eyes,
and the tufted
brows of his master. We could not doubt that justice,
had come at last.
"A chaotic case, my dear Watson," said Holmes
evening pipe. "It will not be possible for you to
present it in that
compact form which is dear to your heart. It covers
nents, concerns two groups of mysterious persons,
and is further
complicated by the highly respectable presence of
Scott Eccles, whose inclusion shows me that the deceased
had a scheming mind and a well-developed instinct
preservation. It is remarkable only for the fact that
amid a perfect
jungle of possibilities we, with our worthy collaborator,
inspector, have kept our close hold on the essentials
and so been
guided along the crooked and winding path. Is there
which is not quite clear to you?"
"The object of the mulatto cook's return?"
"I think that the strange creature in the kitchen
for it. The man was a primitive savage from the backwoods
San Pedro, and this was his fetish. When his companion
had fled to some prearranged retreat -- already occupied,
by a confederate -- the companion had persuaded him
to leave so
compromising an article of furniture. But the mulatto's
with it, and he was driven back to it next day, when,
reconnoitring through the window, he found policeman
in possession. He waited three days longer, and then
his piety or
his superstition drove him to try once more. Inspector
who, with his usual astuteness, had minimized the
before me, had really recognized its importance and
had left a
trap into which the creature walked. Any other point,
"The torn bird, the pail of blood, the charred
bones, all the
mystery of that weird kitchen?"
Holmes smiled as he turned up an entry in his
"I spent a morning in the British Museum reading
up on that
and other points. Here is a quotation from Eckermann's
ism and the Negroid Religions:
The true voodoo-worshipper
attempts nothing of impor-
tance without certain sacrifices
which are intended to propi-
tiate his unclean gods. In extreme
cases these rites take the
form of human sacrifices followed
by cannibalism. The
more usual victims are a white
cock, which is plucked in
pieces alive, or a black goat,
whose throat is cut and body
"So you see our savage friend was very orthodox
in his ritual.
It is grotesque, Watson," Holmes added, as he slowly
his notebook, "but, as I have had occasion to remark,
but one step from the grotesque to the horrible."