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by Arthur Conan Doyle

"How long I remained unconscious I cannot tell. It must have been
a very long time, for the moon had sunk, and a bright morning was
breaking when I came to myself. My clothes were all sodden with
dew, and my coat-sleeve was drenched with blood from my wounded
thumb. The smarting of it recalled in an instant all the
particulars of my night's adventure, and I sprang to my feet with
the feeling that I might hardly yet be safe from my pursuers. But
to my astonishment, when I came to look round me, neither house
nor garden were to be seen. I had been lying in an angle of the
hedge close by the highroad, and just a little lower down was a
long building, which proved, upon my approaching it, to be the
very station at which I had arrived upon the previous night. Were
it not for the ugly wound upon my hand, all that had passed
during those dreadful hours might have been an evil dream.

"Half dazed, I went into the station and asked about the morning
train. There would be one to Reading in less than an hour. The
same porter was on duty, I found, as had been there when I
arrived. I inquired of him whether he had ever heard of Colonel
Lysander Stark. The name was strange to him. Had he observed a
carriage the night before waiting for me? No, he had not. Was
there a police-station anywhere near? There was one about three
miles off.

"It was too far for me to go, weak and ill as I was. I determined
to wait until I got back to town before telling my story to the
police. It was a little past six when I arrived, so I went first
to have my wound dressed, and then the doctor was kind enough to
bring me along here. I put the case into your hands and shall do
exactly what you advise."

We both sat in silence for some little time after listening to
this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down
from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in which he
placed his cuttings.

"Here is an advertisement which will interest you," said he. "It
appeared in all the papers about a year ago. Listen to this:
'Lost, on the 9th inst., Mr. Jeremiah Hayling, aged
twenty-six, a hydraulic engineer. Left his lodgings at ten
o'clock at night, and has not been heard of since. Was
dressed in,' etc., etc. Ha! That represents the last time that
the colonel needed to have his machine overhauled, I fancy."

"Good heavens!" cried my patient. "Then that explains what the
girl said."

"Undoubtedly. It is quite clear that the colonel was a cool and
desperate man, who was absolutely determined that nothing should
stand in the way of his little game, like those out-and-out
pirates who will leave no survivor from a captured ship. Well,
every moment now is precious, so if you feel equal to it we shall
go down to Scotland Yard at once as a preliminary to starting for

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