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Adventure VIII. The Resident Patient

Glancing over the somewhat incoherent series of

  Memoirs with which I have endeavored to illustrate a

  few of the mental peculiarities of my friend Mr.

  Sherlock Holmes, I have been struck by the difficulty

  which I have experienced in picking out examples which

  shall in every way answer my purpose. For in those

  cases in which Holmes has performed some tour de force

  of analytical reasoning, and has demonstrated the

  value of his peculiar methods of investigation, the

  facts themselves have often been so slight or so

  commonplace that I could not feel justified in laying

  them before the public. On the other hand, it has

  frequently happened that he has been concerned in some

  research where the facts have been of the most

  remarkable and dramatic character, but where the share

  which he has himself taken in determining their causes

  has been less pronounced than I, as his biographer,

  could wish. The small matter which I have chronicled

  under the heading of “A Study in Scarlet,” and that

  other later one connected with the loss of the Gloria

  Scott, may serve as examples of this Scylla and

  Charybdis which are forever threatening the historian. 

  It may be that in the business of which I am now about

  to write the part which my friend played is not

  sufficiently accentuated; and yet the whole train of

  circumstances is so remarkable that I cannot bring

  myself to omit it entirely from this series.

  It had been a close, rainy day in October. Our blinds

  were half-drawn, and Holmes lay curled upon the sofa,

  reading and re-reading a letter which he had received

  by the morning post. For myself, my tern of service

  in India had trained me to stand heat better than

  cold, and a thermometer of 90 was no hardship. But

  the paper was uninteresting. Parliament had risen. 

  Everybody was out of town, and I yearned for the

  glades of the New Forest or the shingle of Southsea. 

  A depleted bank account had caused me to postpone my

  holiday, and as to my companion, neither the country

  nor the sea presented the slightest attraction to him. 

  He loved to lie in the very centre of five millions of

  people, with his filaments stretching out and running

  through them, responsive to every little rumor or

  suspicion of unsolved crime. Appreciation of Nature

  found no place among his many gifts, and his only

  change was when he turned his mind from the evil-doer

  of the town to track down his brother of the country.

  Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation,

  I had tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back

  in my chair, I fell into a brown study. Suddenly my

  companion’s voice broke in upon my thoughts.

  “You are right, Watson,” said he. “It does seem a

  very preposterous way of settling a dispute.”

  “Most preposterous!” I exclaimed, and then, suddenly

  realizing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my

  soul, I sat up in my chair and stared at him in blank

  amazement.

  “What is this, Holmes?” I cried. “This is beyond

  anything which I could have imagined.”

  He laughed heartily at my perplexity.

  “You remember,” said he, “that some little time ago,

  when I read you the passage in one of Poe’s sketches,

  in which a close reasoner follows the unspoken thought

  of his companion, you were inclined to treat the

  matter as a mere tour de force of the author. On my

  remarking that I was constantly in the habit of doing

  the same thing you expressed incredulity.”

  “Oh, no!”

  “Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but

  certainly with your eyebrows. So when I saw you throw

  down your paper and enter upon a train of thought, I

  was very happy to have the opportunity of reading it

  off, and eventually of breaking into it, as a proof

  that I had been in rapport with you.”

  But I was still far from satisfied. “In the example

  which you read to me,” said I, “the reasoner drew his

  conclusions from the actions of the man whom he

  observed. If I remember right, he stumbled over a

  heap of stones, looked up at the stars, and so on. 

  But I have been seated quietly in my chair, and what

  clews can I have given you?”

  “You do yourself an injustice. The features are given

  to man as the means by which he shall express his

  emotions, and yours are faithful servants.”

  “Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts

  from my features?”

  “Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you

  cannot yourself recall how your reverie commenced?”

  “No, I cannot.”

  “Then I will tell you. After throwing down your

  paper, which was the action which drew my attention to

  you, you sat for half a minute with a vacant

  expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your

  newly-framed picture of General Gordon, and I saw by

  the alteration in your face that a train of thought

  had been started. But it did not lead very far. Your

  eyes turned across to the unframed portrait of Henry

  Ward Beecher which stands upon the top of your books. 

  You then glanced up at the wall, and of course your

  meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if the

  portrait were framed it would just cover that bare

  space and correspond with Gordon’s picture over

  there.”

  “You have followed me wonderfully!” I exclaimed.

  “So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your

  thoughts went back to Beecher, and you looked hard

  across as if you were studying the character in his

  features. Then your eyes ceased to pucker, but you

  continued to look across, and your face was

  thoughtful. You were recalling the incidents of

  Beecher’s career. I was well aware that you could not

  do this without thinking of the mission which he

  undertook on behalf of the North at the time of the

  Civil War, for I remember you expressing your

  passionate indignation at the way in which he was

  received by the more turbulent of our people. You

  felt so strongly about it that I knew you could not

  think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When

  a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the

  picture, I suspected that your mind had now turned to

  the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips set,

  your eyes sparkled, and your hands clinched, I was

  positive that you were indeed thinking of the

  gallantry which was shown by both sides in that

  desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew

  sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling upon

  the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. 

  Your hand stole towards your own old wound, and a

  smile quivered on your lips, which showed me that the

  ridiculous side of this method of settling

  international questions had forced itself upon your

  mind. At this point I agreed with you that it was

  preposterous, and was glad to find that all my

  deductions had been correct.”

  “Absolutely!” said I. “And now that you have

  explained it, I confess that I am as amazed as

  before.”

  “It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure

  you. I should not have intruded it upon your

  attention had you not shown some incredulity the other

  day. But the evening has brought a breeze with it. 

  What do you say to a ramble through London?”

  I was weary of our little sitting-room and gladly

  acquiesced. For three hours we strolled about

  together, watching the ever-changing kaleidoscope of

  life as it ebbs and flows through Fleet Street and the

  Strand. His characteristic talk, with its keen

  observance of detail and subtle power of inference

  held me amused and enthralled. It was ten o’clock

  before we reached Baker Street again. A brougham was

  waiting at our door.

  “Hum! A doctor’s–general practitioner, I perceive,”

  said Holmes. “Not been long in practice, but has had

  a good deal to do. Come to consult us, I fancy! 

  Lucky we came back!”

  I was sufficiently conversant with Holmes’s methods to

  be able to follow his reasoning, and to see that the

  nature and state of the various medical instruments in

  the wicker basket which hung in the lamplight inside

  the brougham had given him the data for his swift

  deduction. The light in our window above showed that

  this late visit was indeed intended for us. With some

  curiosity as to what could have sent a brother medico

  to us at such an hour, I followed Holmes into our

  sanctum.

  A pale, taper-faced man with sandy whiskers rose up

  from a chair by the fire as we entered. His age may

  not have been more than three or four and thirty, but

  his haggard expression and unhealthy hue told of a

  life which has sapped his strength and robbed him of

  his youth. His manner was nervous and shy, like that

  of a sensitive gentleman, and the thin white hand

  which he laid on the mantelpiece as he rose was that

  of an artist rather than of a surgeon. His dress was

  quiet and sombre–a black frock-coat, dark trousers,

  and a touch of color about his necktie.

  “Good-evening, doctor,” said Holmes, cheerily. “I am

  glad to see that you have only been waiting a very few

  minutes.”

  “You spoke to my coachman, then?”

  “No, it was the candle on the side-table that told me. 

  Pray resume your seat and let me know how I can serve

  you.”

  “My name is Doctor Percy Trevelyan,” said our visitor,

  “and I live at 403 Brook Street.”

  “Are you not the author of a monograph upon obscure

  nervous lesions?” I asked.

  His pale cheeks flushed with pleasure at hearing that

  his work was known to me.

  “I so seldom hear of the work that I thought it was

  quite dead,” said he. “My publishers gave me a most

  discouraging account of its sale. You are yourself, I

  presume, a medical man?”

  “A retired army surgeon.”

  “My own hobby has always been nervous disease. I

  should wish to make it an absolute specialty, but, of

  course, a man must take what he can get at first. 

  This, however, is beside the question, Mr. Sherlock

  Holmes, and I quite appreciate how valuable your time

  is. The fact is that a very singular train of events

  has occurred recently at my house in Brook Street, and

  to-night they came to such a head that I felt it was

  quite impossible for me to wait another hour before

  asking for your advice and assistance.”

  Sherlock Holmes sat down and lit his pipe. “You are

  very welcome to both,” said he. “Pray let me have a

  detailed account of what the circumstances are which

  have disturbed you.”

  “One or two of them are so trivial,” said Dr.

  Trevelyan, “that really I am almost ashamed to mention

  them. But the matter is so inexplicable, and the

  recent turn which it has taken is so elaborate, that I

  shall lay it all before you, and you shall judge what

  is essential and what is not.

  “I am compelled, to begin with, to say something of my

  own college career. I am a London University man, you

  know, and I am sure that your will not think that I am

  unduly singing my own praises if I say that my student

  career was considered by my professors to be a very

  promising one. After I had graduated I continued to

  devote myself to research, occupying a minor position

  in King’s College Hospital, and I was fortunate enough

  to excite considerable interest by my research into

  the pathology of catalepsy, and finally to win the

  Bruce Pinkerton prize and medal by the monograph on

  nervous lesions to which your friend has just alluded. 

  I should not go too far if I were to say that there

  was a general impression at that time that a

  distinguished career lay before me.

  “But the one great stumbling-block lay in my want of

  capital. As you will readily understand, a specialist

  who aims high is compelled to start in one of a dozen

  streets in the Cavendish Square quarter, all of which

  entail enormous rents and furnishing expenses. 

  Besides this preliminary outlay, he must be prepared

  to keep himself for some years, and to hire a

  presentable carriage and horse. To do this was quite

  beyond my power, and I could only hope that by economy

  I might in ten years’ time save enough to enable me to

  put up my plate. Suddenly, however, an unexpected

  incident opened up quite a new prospect to me.

  “This was a visit from a gentleman of the name of

  Blessington, who was a complete stranger to me. He

  came up to my room one morning, and plunged into

  business in an instant.

  “‘You are the same Percy Trevelyan who has had so

  distinguished a career and own a great prize lately?’

  said he.

“I bowed.

  “‘Answer my frankly,’ he continued, ‘for you will find

  it to your interest to do so. You have all the

  cleverness which makes a successful man. Have you the

  tact?’

  “I could not help smiling at the abruptness of the

  question.

  “‘I trust that I have my share,’ I said.

  “‘Any bad habits? Not drawn towards drink, eh?’

  “‘Really, sir!’ I cried.

  “‘Quite right! That’s all right! But I was bound to

  ask. With all these qualities, why are you not in

  practice?’

  “I shrugged my shoulders.

  “‘Come, come!’ said he, in his bustling way. ‘It’s

  the old story. More in your brains than in your

  pocket, eh? What would you say if I were to start you

  in Brook Street?’

  “I stared at him in astonishment.

  “‘Oh, it’s for my sake, not for yours,’ he cried. 

  ‘I’ll be perfectly frank with you, and if it suits you

  it will suit me very well. I have a few thousands to

  invest, d’ye see, and I think I’ll sink them in you.’

  “‘But why?’ I gasped.

  “‘Well, it’s just like any other speculation, and

  safer than most.’

  “‘What am I to do , then?’

  “‘I’ll tell you. I’ll take the house, furnish it, pay

  the maids, and run the whole place. All you have to

  do is just to wear out your chair in the

  consulting-room. I’ll let you have pocket-money and

  everything. Then you hand over to me three quarters

  of what you earn, and you keep the other quarter for

  yourself.’

  “This was the strange proposal, Mr. Holmes, with which

  the man Blessington approached me. I won’t weary you

  with the account of how we bargained and negotiated. 

  It ended in my moving into the house next Lady-day,

  and starting in practice on very much the same

  conditions as he had suggested. He cam himself to

  live with me in the character of a resident patient. 

  His heart was weak, it appears, and he needed constant

  medical supervision. He turned the two best rooms of

  the first floor into a sitting-room and bedroom for

  himself. He was a man of singular habits, shunning

  company and very seldom going out. His life was

  irregular, but in one respect he was regularity

  itself. Every evening, at the same hour, he walked

  into the consulting-room, examined the books, put down

  five and three-pence for every guinea that I had

  earned, and carried the rest off to the strong-box in

  his own room.

  “I may say with confidence that he never had occasion

  to regret his speculation. From the first it was a

  success. A few good cases and the reputation which I

  had won in the hospital brought me rapidly to the

  front, and during the last few years I have made him a

  rich man.

  “So much, Mr. Holmes, for my past history and my

  relations with Mr. Blessington. It only remains for

  me now to tell you what has occurred to bring me her

  to-night.

  “Some weeks ago Mr. Blessington came down to me in, as

  it seemed to me, a state of considerable agitation. 

  He spoke of some burglary which, he said, had been

  committed in the West End, and he appeared, I

  remember, to be quite unnecessarily excited about it,

  declaring that a day should not pass before we should

  add stronger bolts to our windows and doors. For a

  week he continued to be in a peculiar state of

  restlessness, peering continually out of the windows,

  and ceasing to take the short walk which had usually

  been the prelude to his dinner. From his manner it

  struck me that he was in mortal dread of something or

  somebody, but when I questioned him upon the point he

  became so offensive that I was compelled to drop the

  subject. Gradually, as time passed, his fears

  appeared to die away, and he had renewed his former

  habits, when a fresh event reduced him to the pitiable

  state of prostration in which he now lies.

  “What happened was this. Two days ago I received the

  letter which I now read to you. Neither address nor

  date is attached to it.

  “‘A Russian nobleman who is now resident in England,’

  it runs, ‘would be glad to avail himself of the

  professional assistance of Dr. Percy Trevelyan. He

  has been for some years a victim to cataleptic

  attacks, on which, as is well known, Dr. Trevelyan is

  an authority. He proposes to call at about quarter

past six to-morrow evening, if Dr. Trevelyan will make

  it convenient to be at home.’

  “This letter interest me deeply, because the chief

  difficulty in the study of catalepsy is the rareness

  of the disease. You may believe, than, that I was in

  my consulting-room when, at the appointed hour, the

  page showed in the patient.

  He was an elderly man, thin, demure, and

  common-place–by no means the conception one forms of

  a Russian nobleman. I was much more struck by the

  appearance of his companion. This was a tall young

  man, surprisingly handsome, with a dark, fierce face,

  and the limbs and chest of a Hercules. He had his

  hand under the other’s arm as they entered, and helped

  him to a chair with a tenderness which one would

  hardly have expected from his appearance.

  “‘You will excuse my coming in, doctor,’ said he to

  me, speaking English with a slight lisp. ‘This is my

  father, and his health is a matter of the most

  overwhelming importance to me.’

  “I was touched by this filial anxiety. ‘You would,

  perhaps, care to remain during the consultation?’ said

  I.

  “‘Not for the world,’ he cried with a gesture of

  horror. ‘It is more painful to me than I can express. 

  If I were to see my father in one of these dreadful

  seizures I am convinced that I should never survive

  it. My own nervous system is an exceptionally

  sensitive one. With your permission, I will remain in

  the waiting-room while you go into my father’s case.’

  “To this, of course, I assented, and the young man

  withdrew. The patient and I then plunged into a

  discussion of his case, of which I took exhaustive

  notes. He was not remarkable for intelligence, and

  his answers were frequently obscure, which I

  attributed to his limited acquaintance with our

  language. Suddenly, however, as I sat writing, he

  cased to give any answer at all to my inquiries, and

  on my turning towards him I was shocked to see that he

  was sitting bolt upright in his chair, staring at me

  with a perfectly blank and rigid face. He was again

  in the grip of his mysterious malady.

  “My first feeling, as I have just said, was one of

  pity and horror. My second, I fear, was rather one of

  professional satisfaction. I made notes of my

  patient’s pulse and temperature, tested the rigidity

  of his muscles, and examined his reflexes. There was

  nothing markedly abnormal in any of these conditions,

  which harmonized with my former experiences. I had

  obtained good results in such cases by the inhalation

  of nitrite of amyl, and the present seemed an

  admirable opportunity of testing its virtues. The

  bottle was downstairs in my laboratory, so leaving my

  patient seated in his chair, I ran down to get it. 

  There was some little delay in finding it–five

  minutes, let us say–and then I returned. Imagine my

  amazement to find the room empty and the patient gone.

  “Of course, my first act was to run into the

  waiting-room. The son had gone also. The hall door

  had been closed, but not shut. My page who admits

  patients is a new boy and by no means quick. He waits

  downstairs, and runs up to show patients out when I

  ring the consulting-room bell. He had heard nothing,

  and the affair remained a complete mystery. Mr.

  Blessington cam in from his walk shortly afterwards,

  but I did not say anything to him upon the subject,

  for, to tell the truth, I have got in the way of late

  of holding as little communication with him as

  possible.

  “Well, I never thought that I should see anything more

  of the Russian and his son, so you can imagine my

  amazement when, at the very same hour this evening,

  they both came marching into my consulting-room, just

  as they had done before.

  “‘I feel that I owe you a great many apologies for my

  abrupt departure yesterday, doctor,’ said my patient.

  “‘I confess that I was very much surprised at it,’

  said I.

  “‘Well, the fact is,’ he remarked, ‘that when I

  recover from these attacks my mind is always very

  clouded as to all that has gone before. I woke up in

  a strange room, as it seemed to me, and made my way

  out into the street in a sort of dazed way when you

  were absent.’

  “‘And I,’ said the son, ‘seeing my father pass the

  door of the waiting-room, naturally thought that the

  consultation had come to an end. It was not until we

  had reached home that I began to realize the true

  state of affairs.’

  “‘Well,’ said I, laughing, ‘there is no harm done

  except that you puzzled me terribly; so if you, sir,

  would kindly step into the waiting-room I shall be

  happy to continue our consultation which was brought

  to so abrupt an ending.’

  “‘For half an hour or so I discussed that old

  gentleman’s symptoms with him, and then, having

  prescribed for him, I saw him go off upon the arm of

  his son.

  “I have told you that Mr. Blessington generally chose

  this hour of the day for his exercise. He came in

  shortly afterwards and passed upstairs. An instant

  later I heard him running down, and he burst into my

  consulting-room like a man who is mad with panic.

  “‘Who has been in my room?’ he cried.

  “‘No one,’ said I.

  “‘It’s a lie! He yelled. ‘Come up and look!’

  “I passed over the grossness of his language, as he

  seemed half out of his mind with fear. When I went

  upstairs with him he pointed to several footprints

  upon the light carpet.

  “‘D’you mean to say those are mine?’ he cried.

  “They were certainly very much larger than any which

  he could have made, and were evidently quite fresh. 

  It rained hard this afternoon, as you know, and my

  patients were the only people who called. It must

  have been the case, then, that the man in the

  waiting-room had, for some unknown reason, while I was

  busy with the other, ascended to the room of my

  resident patient. Nothing has been touched or taken,

  but there were the footprints to prove that the

  intrusion was an undoubted fact.

  “Mr. Blessington seemed more excited over the matter

  than I should have thought possible, though of course

  it was enough to disturb anybody’s peace of mind. He

  actually sat crying in an arm-chair, and I could

  hardly get him to speak coherently. It was his

  suggestion that I should come round to you, and of

  course I at once saw the propriety of it, for

  certainly the incident is a very singular one, though

  he appears to completely overtake its importance. If

  you would only come back with me in my brougham, you

  would at least be able to soothe him, though I can

  hardly hope that you will be able to explain this

  remarkable occurrence.”

  Sherlock Holmes had listened to this long narrative

with an intentness which showed me that his interest

  was keenly aroused. His face was as impassive as

  ever, but his lids had drooped more heavily over his

  eyes, and his smoke had curled up more thickly from

  his pipe to emphasize each curious episode in the

  doctor’s tale. As our visitor concluded, Holmes

  sprang up without a word, handed me my hat, picked his

  own from the table, and followed Dr. Trevelyan to the

  door. Within a quarter of an hour we had been dripped

  at the door of the physician’s residence in Brook

  Street, one of those sombre, flat-faced houses which

  one associates with a West-End practice. A small page

  admitted us, and we began at once to ascend the broad,

  well-carpeted stair.

  But a singular interruption brought us to a

  standstill. The light at the top was suddenly whisked

  out, and from the darkness came a reedy, quivering

  voice.

  “I have a pistol,” it cried. “I give you my word that

  I’ll fire if you come any nearer.”

  “This really grows outrageous, Mr. Blessington,” cried

  Dr. Trevelyan.

  “Oh, then it is you, doctor,” said the voice, with a

  great heave of relief. “But those other gentlemen,

  are they what they pretend to be?”

  We were conscious of a long scrutiny out of the

  darkness.

  “Yes, yes, it’s all right,” said the voice at last. 

  “You can come up, and I am sorry if my precautions

  have annoyed you.”

  He relit the stair gas as he spoke, and we saw before

  us a singular-looking man, whose appearance, as well

  as his voice, testified to his jangled nerves. He was

  very fat, but had apparently at some time been much

  fatter, so that the skin hung about his face in loose

  pouches, like the cheeks of a blood-hound. He was of

  a sickly color, and his thin, sandy hair seemed to

  bristle up with the intensity of his emotion. In his

  hand he held a pistol, but he thrust it into his

  pocket as we advanced.

  “Good-evening, Mr. Holmes,” said he. “I am sure I am

  very much obliged to you for coming round. No one

  ever needed your advice more than I do. I suppose

  that Dr. Trevelyan has told you of this most

  unwarrantable intrusion into my rooms.”

  “Quite so,” said Holmes. “Who are these tow men Mr.

  Blessington, and why do they wish to molest you?”

  “Well, well,” said the resident patient, in a nervous

  fashion, “of course it is hard to say that. You can

  hardly expect me to answer that, Mr. Holmes.”

  “Do you mean that you don’t know?”

  “Come in here, if you please. Just have the kindness

  to step in here.”

  He led the way into his bedroom, which was large and

  comfortably furnished.

  “You see that,” said he, pointing to a big black box

  at the end of his bed. “I have never been a very rich

  man, Mr. Holmes–never made but one investment in my

  life, as Dr. Trevelyan would tell you. But I don’t

  believe in bankers. I would never trust a banker, Mr.

  Holmes. Between ourselves, what little I have is in

  that box, so you can understand what it means to me

  when unknown people force themselves into my rooms.”

  Holmes looked at Blessington in his questioning way

  and shook his head.

  “I cannot possibly advise you if you try to deceive

  me,” said he.

  “But I have told you everything.”

  Holmes turned on his heel with a gesture of disgust. 

  “Good-night, Dr. Trevelyan,” said he.

  “And no advice for me?” cried Blessington, in a

  breaking voice.

  “My advice to your, sir, is to speak the truth.”

  A minute later we were in the street and walking for

  home. We had crossed Oxford Street and were half way

  down Harley Street before I could get a word from my

  companion.

  “Sorry to bring you out on such a fool’s errand,

  Watson,” he said at last. “It is an interesting case,

  too, at the bottom of it.”

  “I can make little of it,” I confessed.

  “Well, it is quite evident that there are two

  men–more, perhaps, but at least two–who are

  determined for some reason to get at this fellow

  Blessington. I have no doubt in my mind that both on

  the first and on the second occasion that young man

  penetrated to Blessington’s room, while his

  confederate, by an ingenious device, kept the doctor

  from interfering.”

  “And the catalepsy?”

  “A fraudulent imitation, Watson, though I should

  hardly dare to hint as much to our specialist. It is

  a very easy complaint to imitate. I have done it

  myself.”

  “And then?”

  “By the purest chance Blessington was out on each

  occasion. Their reason for choosing so unusual an

  hour for a consultation was obviously to insure that

  there should be no other patient in the waiting-room. 

  It just happened, however, that this hour coincided

  with Blessington’s constitutional, which seems to show

  that they were not very well acquainted with his daily

  routine. Of course, if they had been merely after

  plunder they would at least have made some attempt to

  search for it. Besides, I can read in a man’s eye

  when it is his own skin that he is frightened for. It

  is inconceivable that this fellow could have made two

  such vindictive enemies as these appear to be without

  knowing of it. I hold it, therefore, to be certain

  that he does know who these men are, and that for

  reasons of his own he suppresses it. It is just

  possible that to-morrow may find him in a more

  communicative mood.”

  “Is there not one alternative,” I suggested,

  “grotesquely improbably, no doubt, but still just

  conceivable? Might the whole story of the cataleptic

  Russian and his son be a concoction of Dr.

  Trevelyan’s, who has, for his own purposes, been in

  Blessington’s rooms?”

  I saw in the gaslight that Holmes wore an amused smile

  at this brilliant departure of mine.

  “My dear fellow,” said he, “it was one of the first

  solutions which occurred to me, but I was soon able to

  corroborate the doctor’s tale. This young man has

  left prints upon the stair-carpet which made it quite

  superfluous for me to ask to see those which he had

  made in the room. When I tell you that his shoes were

  square-toed instead of being pointed like

  Blessington’s, and were quite an inch and a third

  longer than the doctor’s, you will acknowledge that

  there can be no doubt as to his individuality. But we

  may sleep on it now, for I shall be surprised if we do

  not hear something further from Brook Street in the

  morning.”

  Sherlock Holmes’s prophecy was soon fulfilled, and in

  a dramatic fashion. At half-past seven next morning,

  in the first glimmer of daylight, I found him standing

  b y my bedside in his dressing-gown.

  “There’s a brougham waiting for us, Wats 
on,” said he.

  “What’s the matter, then?”

  “The Brook Street business.”

  “Any fresh news?”

  “Tragic, but ambiguous,” said he, pulling up the

  blind. “Look at this–a sheet from a note-book, with

  ‘For God’s sake come at once–P. T.,’ scrawled upon it

  in pencil. Our friend, the doctor, was hard put to it

  when he wrote this. Come along, my dear fellow, for

  it’s an urgent call.”

  In a quarter of an hour or so we were back at the

  physician’s house. He came running out to meet us

  with a face of horror.

  “Oh, such a business!” he cried, with his hands to his

  temples.

  “What then?”

  “Blessington has committed suicide!”

  Holmes whistled.

  “Yes, he hanged himself during the night.”

  We had entered, and the doctor had preceded us into

  what was evidently his waiting-room.

  “I really hardly know what I am doing,” he cried. 

  “The police are already upstairs. It has shaken me

  most dreadfully.”

  “When did you find it out?”

  “He has a cup of tea taken in to him early every

  morning. When the maid entered, about seven, there

  the unfortunate fellow was hanging in the middle of

  the room. He had tied his cord to the hook on which

  the heavy lamp used to hang, and he had jumped off

  from the top of the very box that he showed us

  yesterday.”

  Holmes stood for a moment in deep thought.

  “With your permission,” said he at last, “I should

  like to go upstairs and look into the matter.”

  We both ascended, followed by the doctor.

  It was a dreadful sight which met us as we entered the

  bedroom door. I have spoken of the impression of

  flabbiness which this man Blessington conveyed. As he

  dangled from the hook it was exaggerated and

  intensified until he was scarce human in his

  appearance. The neck was drawn out like a plucked

  chicken’s, making the rest of him seem the more obese

  and unnatural by the contrast. He was clad only in

  his long night-dress, and his swollen ankles and

  ungainly feet protruded starkly from beneath it. 

  Beside him stood a smart-looking police-inspector, who

  was taking notes in a pocket-book.

  “Ah, Mr. Holmes,” said he, heartily, as my friend

  entered, “I am delighted to see you.”

  “Good-morning, Lanner,” answered Holmes; “you won’t

  think me an intruder, I am sure. Have you heard of

  the events which led up to this affair?”

  “Yes, I heard something of them.”

  “Have you formed any opinion?”

  “As far as I can see, the man has been driven out of

  his senses by fright. The bed has been well slept in,

  you see. There’s his impression deep enough. It’s

  about five in the morning, you know, that suicides are

  most common. That would be about his time for hanging

  himself. It seems to have been a very deliberate

  affair.”

  “I should say that he has been dead about three hours,

  judging by the rigidity of the muscles,” said I.

  “Noticed anything peculiar about the room?” asked

  Holmes.

  “Found a screw-driver and some screws on the wash-hand

  stand. Seems to have smoked heavily during the night,

  too. Here are four cigar-ends that I picked out of

  the fireplace.”

  “Hum!” said Holmes, “have you got his cigar-holder?”

  “No, I have seen none.”

  “His cigar-case, then?”

  “Yes, it was in his coat-pocket.”

  Holmes opened it and smelled the single cigar which it

  contained.

  “Oh, this is an Havana, and these others are cigars of

  the peculiar sort which are imported by the Dutch from

  their East Indian colonies. They are usually wrapped

  in straw, you know, and are thinner for their length

  than any other brand.” He picked up the four ends and

  examined them with his pocket-lens.

  “Two of these have been smoked from a holder and two

  without,” said he. “Two have been cut by a not very

  sharp knife, and two have had the ends bitten off by a

  set of excellent teeth. This is no suicide, Mr.

  Lanner. It is a very deeply planned and cold-blooded

  murder.”

  “Impossible!” cried the inspector.

  “And why?”

  “Why should any one murder a man in so clumsy a

fashion as by hanging him?”

  “That is what we have to find out.”

  “How could they get in?”

  “Through the front door.”

  “It was barred in the morning.”

  “Then it was barred after them.”

  “How do you know?”

  “I saw their traces. Excuse me a moment, and I may be

  able to give you some further information about it.”

  He went over to the door, and turning the lock he

  examined it in his methodical way. Then he took out

  the key, which was on the inside, and inspected that

  also. The bed, the carpet, the chairs the

  mantelpiece, the dead body, and the rope were each in

  turn examined, until at last he professed himself

  satisfied, and with my aid and that of the inspector

  cut down the wretched object and laid it reverently

  under a sheet.

  “How about this rope?” he asked.

  “It is cut off this,” said Dr. Trevelyan, drawing a

  large coil from under the bed. “He was morbidly

  nervous of fire, and always kept this beside him, so

  that he might escape by the window in case the stairs

  were burning.”

  “That must have saved them trouble,” said Holmes,

  thoughtfully. “Yes, the actual facts are very plain,

  and I shall be surprised if by the afternoon I cannot

  give you the reasons for them as well. I will take

  this photograph of Blessington, which I see upon the

  mantelpiece, as it may help me in my inquiries.”

  “But you have told us nothing!” cried the doctor.

  “Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of

  events,” said Holmes. “There were three of them in

  it: the young man, the old man, and a third, to whose

  identity I have no clue. The first two, I need hardly

  remark, are the same who masqueraded as the Russian

  count and his son, so we can give a very full

  description of them. They were admitted by a

  confederate inside the house. If I might offer you a

  word of advice, Inspector, it would be to arrest the

  page, who, as I understand, has only recently come

  into your service, Doctor.”

  “The young imp cannot be found,” said Dr. Trevelyan;

  “the maid and the cook have just been searching for

  him.”

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders.

  “He has played a not unimportant part in this drama,”

  said he. “The three men having ascended the stairs,

  which they did on tiptoe, the elder man first, the

  younger man second, and the unknown man in the rear–“

  “My dear Holmes!” I ejaculated.

  “Oh, there could be no question as to the

  superimposing of the footmarks. I had the advantage

  of learning which was which last night. They

  ascended, then, to Mr. Blessington’s room, the door of

  which they found to be locked. With the help of a

  wire, however, they forced round the key. Even

  without the lens you will perceive, by the scratches

  on this ward, where the pressure was applied.

  “On entering the room their first proceeding must have

  been to gag Mr. Blessington. He may have been asleep,

  or he may have been so paralyzed with terror as to

  have been unable to cry out. These walls are thick,

  and it is conceivable that his shriek, if he had time

  to utter one, was unheard.

  “Having secured him, it is evident to me that a

  consultation of some sort was held. Probably it was

  something in the nature of a judicial proceeding. It

  must have lasted for some time, for it was then that

  these cigars were smoke. The older man sat in that

  wicker chair; it was he who used the cigar-holder. 

  The younger man sat over yonder; he knocked his ash

  off against the chest of drawers. The third fellow

  paced up and down. Blessington, I think, sat upright

  in the bed, but of that I cannot be absolutely

  certain.

  “Well, it ended by their taking Blessington and

  hanging him. The matter was so prearranged that it is

  my belief that they brought with them some sort of

  block or pulley which might serve as a gallows. That

  screw-driver and those screws were, as I conceive, for

  fixing it up. Seeing the hook, however they naturally

  saved themselves the trouble. Having finished their

  work they made off, and the door was barred behind

  them by their confederate.”

  We had all listened with the deepest interest to this

  sketch of the night’s doings, which Holmes had deduced

  from signs so subtle and minute that, even when he had

  pointed them out to us, we could scarcely follow him

  in his reasoning. The inspector hurried away on the

  instant to make inquiries about the page, while Holmes

  and I returned to Baker Street for breakfast.

  “I’ll be back by three,” said he, when we had finished

  our meal. “Both the inspector and the doctor will

  meet me here at that hour, and I hope by that time to

  have cleared up any little obscurity which the case

  may still present.”

  Our visitors arrived at the appointed time, but it was

  a quarter to four before my friend put in an

  appearance. From his expression as he entered,

  however, I could see that all had gone well with him.

  “Any news, Inspector?”

  “We have got the boy, sir.”

  “Excellent, and I have got the men.”

  “You have got them!” we cried, all three.

  “Well, at least I have got their identity. This

  so-called Blessington is, as I expected, well known at

  headquarters, and so are his assailants. Their names

  are Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat.”

  “The Worthingdon bank gang,” cried the inspector.

  “Precisely,” said Holmes.

  “Then Blessington must have been Sutton.”

  “Exactly,” said Holmes.

  “Why, that makes it as clear as crystal,” said the

  inspector.

  But Trevelyan and I looked at each other in

  bewilderment.

  “You must surely remember the great Worthingdon bank

  business,” said Holmes. “Five men were in it–these

  four and a fifth called Cartwright. Tobin, the

  care-taker, was murdered, and the thieves got away

  with seven thousand pounds. This was in 1875. They

  were all five arrested, but the evidence against them

  was by no means conclusive. This Blessington or

  Sutton, who was the worst of the gang, turned

  informer. On his evidence Cartwright was hanged and

  the other three got fifteen years apiece. When they

  got out the other day, which was some years before

  their full term, they set themselves, as you perceive,

  to hunt down the traitor and to avenge the death of

  their comrade upon him. Twice they tried to get at

  him and failed; a third time, you see, it came off. 

  Is there anything further which I can explain, Dr.

  Trevelyan?”

  “I think you have made it all remarkable clear,” said

  the doctor. “No doubt the day on which he was

  perturbed was the day when he had seen of their

  release in the newspapers.”

  “Quite so. His talk about a burglary was the merest

  blind.”

  “But why could he not tell you this?”

  “Well, my dear sir, knowing the vindictive character

  of his old associates, he was trying to hide his own

  identity from everybody as long as he could. His

  secret was a shameful one, and he could not bring

  himself to divulge it. However, wretch as he was, he

  was still living under the shield of British law, and

  I have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see that,

  though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of

  justice is still there to avenge.”

  Such were the singular circumstances in connection

  with the Resident Patient and the Brook Street Doctor. 

  From that night nothing has been seen of the three

  murderers by the police, and it is surmised at

  Scotland Yard that they were among the passengers of

  the ill-fated steamer Norah Creina, which was lost

  some years ago with all hands upon the Portuguese

  coast, some leagues to the north of Oporto. The

  proceedings against the page broke down for want of

  evidence, and the Brook Street Mystery, as it was

  called, has never until now been fully dealt with in

  any public print.

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