It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing through
the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming Severn,
found ourselves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A
lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for
us upon the platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and
leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic
surroundings, I had no difficulty in recognizing Lestrade, of
Scotland Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford Arms where a
room had already been engaged for us.
"I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade as we sat
over a cup
of tea. "I knew your energetic nature, and that you would
happy until you had been on the scene of the crime."
"It was very nice and complimentary of you," Holmes
is entirely a question of barometric pressure."
Lestrade looked startled. "I do not quite follow,"
"How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not
in the sky. I have a caseful of cigarettes here which need
smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country
hotel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I
shall use the carriage to-night."
Lestrade laughed indulgently. "You have, no doubt, already
your conclusions from the newspapers," he said. "The
case is as
plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer
it becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, and such
very positive one, too. She has heard of you, and would have your
opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was nothing
which you could do which I had not already done. Why, bless my
soul! here is her carriage at the door."
He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of
most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life. Her
violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink flush upon her
cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her
overpowering excitement and concern.
"Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" she cried, glancing from
one to the
other of us, and finally, with a woman's quick intuition,
fastening upon my companion, "I am so glad that you have
have driven down to tell you so. I know that James didn't do it.
I know it, and I want you to start upon your work knowing it,
too. Never let yourself doubt upon that point. We have known each
other since we were little children, and I know his faults as
one else does; but he is too tenderhearted to hurt a fly. Such
charge is absurd to anyone who really knows him."
"I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner," said Sherlock
"You may rely upon my doing all that I can."
"But you have read the evidence. You have formed some conclusion?
Do you not see some loophole, some flaw? Do you not yourself
think that he is innocent?"
"I think that it is very probable."
"There, now!" she cried, throwing back her head and
defiantly at Lestrade. "You hear! He gives me hopes."
Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am afraid that my colleague
has been a little quick in forming his conclusions," he said.
"But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. James never
it. And about his quarrel with his father, I am sure that the
reason why he would not speak about it to the coroner was because
I was concerned in it."
"In what way?" asked Holmes.
"It is no time for me to hide anything. James and his father
many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that
there should be a marriage between us. James and I have always
loved each other as brother and sister; but of course he is young
and has seen very little of life yet, and--and--well, he
naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there
were quarrels, and this, I am sure, was one of them."
"And your father?" asked Holmes. "Was he in favor
of such a
"No, he was averse to it also. No one but Mr. McCarthy was
favor of it." A quick blush passed over her fresh young face
Holmes shot one of his keen, questioning glances at her.
"Thank you for this information," said he. "May
I see your father
if I call to-morrow?"
"I am afraid the doctor won't allow it."
"Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has never been strong
years back, but this has broken him down completely. He has taken
to his bed, and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and that his
nlervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was the only man alive
who had known dad in the old days in Victoria."
"Ha! ln Victoria! That is important."
"Yes, at the mines."
"Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I understand, Mr.
made his money."
"Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of material assistance
"You will tell me if you have any news to-morrow. No doubt
will go to the prison to see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes,
tell him that I know him to be innocent."
"I will, Miss Turner."
"I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and he misses
me so if
I leave him. Good-bye, and God help you in your undertaking."
hurried from the room as impulsively as she had entered, and we
heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off down the street.