English > ESL Library Index

Online ESL Literature Library
Great literature free and accessible for everyone.


THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

by Arthur Conan Doyle


"The goose, Mr. Holmes! The goose, sir!" he gasped.

"Eh? What of it, then? Has it returned to life and flapped off
through the kitchen window?" Holmes twisted himself round upon
the sofa to get a fairer view of the man's excited face.

"See here, sir! See what my wife found in its crop!" He held out
his hand and displayed upon the centre of the palm a brilliantly
scintillating blue stone, rather smaller than a bean in size, but
of such purity and radiance that it twinkled like an electric
point in the dark hollow of his hand.

Sherlock Holmes sat up with a whistle. "By Jove, Peterson!" said
he, "this is treasure trove indeed. I suppose you know what you
have got?"

"A diamond, sir? A precious stone. It cuts into glass as though
it were putty."

"It's more than a precious stone. It is the precious stone."

"Not the Countess of Morcar's blue carbuncle!" I ejaculated.

"Precisely so. I ought to know its size and shape, seeing that I
have read the advertisement about it in The Times every day
lately. It is absolutely unique, and its value can only be
conjectured, but the reward offered of 1000 pounds is certainly
not within a twentieth part of the market price."

"A thousand pounds! Great Lord of mercy!" The commissionaire
plumped down into a chair and stared from one to the other of us.

"That is the reward, and I have reason to know that there are
sentimental considerations in the background which would induce
the Countess to part with half her fortune if she could but
recover the gem."

"It was lost, if I remember aright, at the Hotel Cosmopolitan," I
remarked.

"Precisely so, on December 22d, just five days ago. John Horner,
a plumber, was accused of having abstracted it from the lady's
jewel-case. The evidence against him was so strong that the case
has been referred to the Assizes. I have some account of the
matter here, I believe." He rummaged amid his newspapers,
glancing over the dates, until at last he smoothed one out,
doubled it over, and read the following paragraph:

"Hotel Cosmopolitan Jewel Robbery. John Horner, 26, plumber, was
brought up upon the charge of having upon the 22d inst.,
abstracted from the jewel-case of the Countess of Morcar the
valuable gem known as the blue carbuncle. James Ryder,
upper-attendant at the hotel, gave his evidence to the effect
that he had shown Horner up to the dressing-room of the Countess
of Morcar upon the day of the robbery in order that he might
solder the second bar of the grate, which was loose. He had
remained with Horner some little time, but had finally been
called away. On returning, he found that Horner had disappeared,
that the bureau had been forced open, and that the small morocco
casket in which, as it afterwards transpired, the Countess was
accustomed to keep her jewel, was lying empty upon the
dressing-table. Ryder instantly gave the alarm, and Horner was
arrested the same evening; but the stone could not be found
either upon his person or in his rooms. Catherine Cusack, maid to
the Countess, deposed to having heard Ryder's cry of dismay on
discovering the robbery, and to having rushed into the room,
where she found matters as described by the last witness.
Inspector Bradstreet, B division, gave evidence as to the arrest
of Horner, who struggled frantically, and protested his innocence
in the strongest terms. Evidence of a previous conviction for
robbery having been given against the prisoner, the magistrate
refused to deal summarily with the offence, but referred it to
the Assizes. Horner, who had shown signs of intense emotion
during the proceedings, fainted away at the conclusion and was
carried out of court.

"Hum! So much for the police-court," said Holmes thoughtfully,
tossing aside the paper. "The question for us now to solve is the
sequence of events leading from a rifled jewel-case at one end to
the crop of a goose in Tottenham Court Road at the other. You
see, Watson, our little deductions have suddenly assumed a much
more important and less innocent aspect. Here is the stone; the
stone came from the goose, and the goose came from Mr. Henry
Baker, the gentleman with the bad hat and all the other
characteristics with which I have bored you. So now we must set
ourselves very seriously to finding this gentleman and
ascertaining what part he has played in this little mystery. To
do this, we must try the simplest means first, and these lie
undoubtedly in an advertisement in all the evening papers. If
this fail, I shall have recourse to other methods."

"What will you say?"

"Give me a pencil and that slip of paper. Now, then: 'Found at
the corner of Goodge Street, a goose and a black felt hat. Mr.
Henry Baker can have the same by applying at 6:30 this evening at
221B, Baker Street.' That is clear and concise."

"Very. But will he see it?"

"Well, he is sure to keep an eye on the papers, since, to a poor
man, the loss was a heavy one. He was clearly so scared by his
mischance in breaking the window and by the approach of Peterson
that he thought of nothing but flight, but since then he must
have bitterly regretted the impulse which caused him to drop his
bird. Then, again, the introduction of his name will cause him to
see it, for everyone who knows him will direct his attention to
it. Here you are, Peterson, run down to the ../advertising agency
and have this put in the evening papers."

"In which, sir?"

"Oh, in the Globe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James's, Evening News
Standard, Echo, and any others that occur to you."

"Very well, sir. And this stone?"

"Ah, yes, I shall keep the stone. Thank you. And, I say,
Peterson, just buy a goose on your way back and leave it here
with me, for we must have one to give to this gentleman in place
of the one which your family is now devouring."

When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone and
held it against the light. "It's a bonny thing," said he. "Just
see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and
focus of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil's pet
baits. In the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a
bloody deed. This stone is not yet twenty years old. It was found
in the banks of the Amoy River in southem China and is remarkable
in having every characteristic of the carbuncle, save that it is
blue in shade instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has
already a sinister history. There have been two murders, a
vitriol-throwing, a suicide, and several robberies brought about
for the sake of this forty-grain weight of crystallized charcoal.
Who would think that so pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the
gallows and the prison? I'll lock it up in my strong box now and
drop a line to the Countess to say that we have it."

"Do you think that this man Horner is innocent?"

"I cannot tell."

"Well, then, do you imagine that this other one, Henry Baker, had
anything to do with the matter?"

"It is, I think, much more likely that Henry Baker is an
absolutely innocent man, who had no idea that the bird which he
was carrying was of considerably more value than if it were made
of solid gold. That, however, I shall determine by a very simple
test if we have an answer to our advertisement."

"And you can do nothing until then?"

"Nothing."

"In that case I shall continue my professional round. But I shall
come back in the evening at the hour you have mentioned, for I
should like to see the solution of so tangled a business."

"Very glad to see you. I dine at seven. There is a woodcock, I
believe. By the way, in view of recent occurrences, perhaps I
ought to ask Mrs. Hudson to examine its crop."


Many Thanks for Using the ESL Literature Library from 1-language.com.


Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved.