Sherlock Holmes and I had no difficulty in engaging a bedroom
sitting-room at the Crown Inn. They were on the upper floor, and
from our window we could command a view of the avenue gate, and
of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran Manor House. At dusk we saw
Dr. Grimesby Roylott drive past, his huge form looming up beside
the little figure of the lad who drove him. The boy had some
slight difficulty in undoing the heavy iron gates, and we heard
the hoarse roar of the doctor's voice and saw the fury with which
he shook his clinched fists at him. The trap drove on, and a few
minutes later we saw a sudden light spring up among the trees
the lamp was lit in one of the sitting-rooms.
"Do you know, Watson," said Holmes as we sat together
gathering darkness, "I have really some scruples as to taking
to-night. There is a distinct element of danger."
"Can I be of assistance?"
"Your presence might be invaluable."
"Then I shall certainly come."
"It is very kind of you."
"You speak of danger. You have evidently seen more in these
than was visible to me."
"No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more.
that you saw all that I did."
"I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, and what purpose
that could answer I confess is more than I can imagine."
"You saw the ventilator, too?"
"Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very unusual
have a small opening between two rooms. It was so small that a
rat could hardly pass through."
"I knew that we should find a ventilator before ever we
"My dear Holmes!"
"Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement she said
sister could smell Dr. Roylott's cigar. Now, of course that
suggested at once that there must be a communication between the
two rooms. It could only be a small one, or it would have been
remarked upon at the coroner's inquiry. I deduced a ventilator."
"But what harm can there be in that?"
"Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of dates.
ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and a lady who sleeps in the
bed dies. Does not that strike you?"
"I cannot as yet see any connection."
"Did you observe anything very peculiar about that bed?"
"It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see a bed fastened
like that before?"
"I cannot say that I have."
"The lady could not move her bed. It must always be in the
relative position to the ventilator and to the rope--or so we
call it, since it was clearly never meant for a bell-pull."
"Holmes," I cried, "I seem to see dimly what you
are hinting at.
We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and horrible
"Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor does go
he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge.
Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their profession.
This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall
be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have horrors enough
before the night is over; for goodness' sake let us have a quiet
pipe and turn our minds for a few hours to something more