English > ESL Library Index

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


THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

by Arthur Conan Doyle


"Eh? What was that?"

"I say that I have solved it."

"Where, then, is my wife?"

"That is a detail which I shall speedily supply."

Lord St. Simon shook his head. "I am afraid that it will take
wiser heads than yours or mine," he remarked, and bowing in a
stately, old-fashioned manner he departed.

"It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honor my head by putting
it on a level with his own," said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. "I
think that I shall have a whisky and soda and a cigar after all
this cross-questioning. I had formed my conclusions as to the
case before our client came into the room."

"My dear Holmes!"

"I have notes of several similar cases, though none, as I
remarked before, which were quite as prompt. My whole examination
served to turn my conjecture into a certainty. Circumstantial
evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a
trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's example."

"But I have heard all that you have heard."

"Without, however, the knowledge of pre-existing cases which
serves me so well. There was a parallel instance in Aberdeen some
years back, and something on very much the same lines at Munich
the year after the Franco-Prussian War. It is one of these
cases--but, hello, here is Lestrade! Good-afternoon, Lestrade!
You will find an extra tumbler upon the sideboard,and there are
cigars in the box."

The official detective was attired in a pea-jacket and cravat,
which gave him a decidedly nautical appearance, and he carried a
black canvas bag in his hand. With a short greeting he seated
himself and lit the cigar which had been offered to him.

"What's up, then?" asked Holmes with a twinkle in his eye. "You
look dissatisfied."

"And I feel dissatisfied. It is this infernal St. Simon marriage
case. I can make neither head nor tail of the business."

"Really! You surprise me."

"Who ever heard of such a mixed affair? Every clew seems to slip
through my fingers. I have been at work upon it all day."

"And very wet it seems to have made you," said Holmes laying his
hand upon the arm of the pea-jacket.

"Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine."

"In heaven's name, what for?"

"In search of the body of Lady St. Simon."

Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.

"Have you dragged the basin of Trafalgar Square fountain?" he
asked.

"Why? What do you mean?"

"Because you have just as good a chance of finding this lady in
the one as in the other."

Lestrade shot an angry glance at my companion. "I suppose you
know all about it," he snarled.

"Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my mind is made up."

"Oh, indeed! Then you think that the Serpentine plays no part in
the maner?"

"I think it very unlikely."

"Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it is that we found
this in it?" He opened his bag as he spoke, and tumbled onto the
floor a wedding-dress of watered silk, a pair of white satin
shoes and a bride's wreath and veil, all discolored and soaked
in water. "There," said he, putting a new wedding-ring upon the
top of the pile. "There is a little nut for you to crack, Master
Holmes."

"Oh, indeed!" said my friend, blowing blue rings into the air.
"You dragged them from the Serpentine?"

"No. They were found floating near the margin by a park-keeper.
They have been identified as her clothes, and it seemed to me
that if the clothes were there the body would not be far off."

"By the same brilliant reasoning, every man's body is to be found
in the neighborhood of his wardrobe. And pray what did you hope
to arrive at through this?"

"At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in the disappearance."

"I am afraid that you will find it difficult."

"Are you, indeed, now?" cried Lestrade with some bitterness. "I
am afraid, Holmes, that you are not very practical with your
deductions and your inferences. You have made two blunders in as
many minutes. This dress does implicate Miss Flora Millar."

"And how?"

"In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In the
card-case is a note. And here is the very note." He slapped it
down upon the table in front of him. "Listen to this: 'You will
see me when all is ready. Come at once. F.H.M.' Now my theory all
along has been that Lady St. Simon was decoyed away by Flora
Millar, and that she, with confederates, no doubt, was
responsible for her disappearance. Here, signed with her
initials, is the very note which was no doubt quietly slipped
into her hand at the door and which lured her within their
reach."

"Very good, Lestrade," said Holmes, laughing. "You really are
very fine indeed. Let me see it." He took up the paper in a
listless way, but his attention instantly became riveted, and he
gave a little cry of satisfaction. "This is indeed important,"
said he.

"Ha! you find it so?"

"Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly."

Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head to look. "Why," he
shrieked, "you're looking at the wrong side!"

"On the contrary, this is the right side."

"The right side? You're mad! Here is the note written in pencil
over here."

"And over here is what appears to be the fragment of a hotel
bill, which interests me deeply."

"There's nothing in it. I looked at it before," said Lestrade.
"'Oct. 4th, rooms 8s., breakfast 2s. 6d., cocktail 1s., lunch 2s.
6d., glass sherry, 8d.' I see nothing in that."

"Very likely not. It is most important, all the same. As to the
note, it is important also, or at least the initials are, so I
congratulate you again."

"I've wasted time enough," said Lestrade, rising. "I believe in
hard work and not in sitting by the fire spinning fine theories.
Good-day, Mr. Holmes, and we shall see which gets to the bottom
of the matter first." He gathered up the garments, thrust them
into the bag, and made for the door.

"Just one hint to you, Lestrade," drawled Holmes before his rival
vanished; "I will tell you the true solution of the matter. Lady
St. Simon is a myth. There is not, and there never has been, any
such person."

Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then he turned to me,
tapped his forehead three times, shook his head solemnly, and
hurried away.


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


Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved.