The address was The Three Gables, Harrow Weald.
So thats that! said Holmes. And now,
if you can spare the time, Watson, we will get upon our way.
A short railway journey, and a shorter drive, brought us to
the house, a brick and timber villa, standing in its own acre of undeveloped grassland.
Three small projections above the upper windows made a feeble attempt to justify its name.
Behind was a grove of melancholy, half-grown pines, and the whole aspect of the place was
poor and depressing. None the less, we found the house to be well furnished, and the lady
who received us was a most engaging elderly person, who bore every mark of refinement and
I remember your husband well, madam, said Holmes,
though it is some years since he used my services in some trifling matter.
Probably you would be more familiar with the name of my son Douglas.
Holmes looked at her with great interest.
Dear me! Are you the mother of Douglas Maberley? I knew
him slightly. But of course all London knew him. What a magnificent creature he was! Where
is he now?
Dead, Mr. Holmes, dead! He was attache at Rome, and he
died there of pneumonia last month.
I am sorry. One could not connect death with such a man.
I have never known anyone so vitally alive. He lived intenselyevery fibre of
Too intensely, Mr. Holmes. That was the ruin of him. You
remember him as he wasdebonair and splendid. You did not see the moody, morose,
brooding creature into which he developed. His heart was broken. In a single month I
seemed to see my gallant boy turn into a worn-out cynical man.
A love affaira woman?
Or a fiend. Well, it was not to talk of my poor lad that
I asked you to come, Mr. Holmes.
Dr. Watson and I are at your service.
There have been some very strange happenings. I have
been in this house more than a year now, and as I wished to lead a retired life I have
seen little of my neighbours. Three days ago I had a call from a man who said that he was
a house agent. He said that this house would exactly suit a client of his, and that if I
would part with it money would be no object. It seemed to me very strange as there are
several empty houses on the market which appear to be equally eligible, but naturally I
was interested in what he said. I therefore named a price which was five hundred pounds
more than I gave. He at once closed with the offer, but added that his client desired to
buy the furniture as well and would I put a price upon it. Some of this furniture is from
my old home, and it is, as you see, very good, so that I named a good round sum. To this
also he at once agreed. I had always wanted to travel, and the bargain was so good a one
that it really seemed that I should be my own mistress for the rest of my life.
Yesterday the man arrived with the agreement all drawn
out. Luckily I showed it to Mr. Sutro, my lawyer, who lives in Harrow. He said to me,
This is a very strange document. Are you aware that if you sign it you could not
legally take anything out of the housenot even your own private
possessions? When the man came again in the evening I pointed this out, and I said
that I meant only to sell the furniture.
No, no, everything, said he.
But my clothes? My jewels?
Well, well, some concession might be made for
your personal effects. But nothing shall go out of the house unchecked. My client is a
very liberal man, but he has his fads and his own way of doing things. It is everything or
nothing with him.
Then it must be nothing, said I. And there
the matter was left, but the whole thing seemed to me to be so unusual that I
Here we had a very extraordinary interruption.
Holmes raised his hand for silence. Then he strode across the
room, flung open the door, and dragged in a great gaunt woman whom he had seized by the
shoulder. She entered with ungainly struggle like some huge awkward chicken, torn,
squawking, out of its coop.
Leave me alone! What are you a-doin of? she screeched.
Why, Susan, what is this?
Well, maam, I was comin in to ask if the
visitors was stayin for lunch when this man jumped out at me.
I have been listening to her for the last five minutes,
but did not wish to interrupt your most interesting narrative. Just a little wheezy,
Susan, are you not? You breathe too heavily for that kind of work.
Susan turned a sulky but amazed face upon her captor.
Who be you, anyhow, and what right have you a-pullin me about like this?
It was merely that I wished to ask a question in your
presence. Did you, Mrs. Maberley, mention to anyone that you were going to write to me and
No, Mr. Holmes, I did not.
Who posted your letter?
Exactly. Now, Susan, to whom was it that you wrote or
sent a message to say that your mistress was asking advice from me?
Its a lie. I sent no message.
Now, Susan, wheezy people may not live long, you know.
Its a wicked thing to tell fibs. Whom did you tell?
Susan! cried her mistress, I believe you are
a bad, treacherous woman. I remember now that I saw you speaking to someone over the
That was my own business, said the woman sullenly.
Suppose I tell you that it was Barney Stockdale to whom
you spoke? said Holmes.
Well, if you know, what do you want to ask for?
I was not sure, but I know now. Well now, Susan, it will
be worth ten pounds to you if you will tell me who is at the back of Barney.
Someone that could lay down a thousand pounds for every
ten you have in the world.
So, a rich man? No; you smileda rich woman. Now we
have got so far, you may as well give the name and earn the tenner.
Ill see you in hell first.
Oh, Susan! Language!
I am clearing out of here. Ive had enough of you
all. Ill send for my box to-morrow. She flounced for the door.
Good-bye, Susan. Paregoric is the stuff. . . .
Now, he continued, turning suddenly from lively to severe when the door had closed
behind the flushed and angry woman, this gang means business. Look how close they
play the game. Your letter to me had the 10 P. M. postmark. And yet Susan
passes the word to Barney. Barney has time to go to his employer and get instructions; he
or sheI incline to the latter from Susans grin when she thought I had
blunderedforms a plan. Black Steve is called in, and I am warned off by eleven
oclock next morning. Thats quick work, you know.
But what do they want?
Yes, thats the question. Who had the house before
A retired sea captain called Ferguson.
Anything remarkable about him?
Not that ever I heard of.
I was wondering whether he could have buried something.
Of course, when 
people bury treasure nowadays they do it in the Post-Office bank. But there are always
some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them. At first I thought of some
buried valuable. But why, in that case, should they want your furniture? You dont
happen to have a Raphael or a first folio Shakespeare without knowing it?
No, I dont think I have anything rarer than a
Crown Derby tea-set.
That would hardly justify all this mystery. Besides, why
should they not openly state what they want? If they covet your tea-set, they can surely
offer a price for it without buying you out, lock, stock, and barrel. No, as I read it,
there is something which you do not know that you have, and which you would not give up if
you did know.
That is how I read it, said I.
Dr. Watson agrees, so that settles it.
Well, Mr. Holmes, what can it be?
Let us see whether by this purely mental analysis we can
get it to a finer point. You have been in this house a year.
All the better. During this long period no one wants
anything from you. Now suddenly within three or four days you have urgent demands. What
would you gather from that?
It can only mean, said I, that the object,
whatever it may be, has only just come into the house.
Settled once again, said Holmes. Now, Mrs.
Maberley, has any object just arrived?
No, I have bought nothing new this year.
Indeed! That is very remarkable. Well, I think we had
best let matters develop a little further until we have clearer data. Is that lawyer of
yours a capable man?
Mr. Sutro is most capable.
Have you another maid, or was the fair Susan, who has
just banged your front door, alone?
I have a young girl.
Try and get Sutro to spend a night or two in the house.
You might possibly want protection.
Who knows? The matter is certainly obscure. If I
cant find what they are after, I must approach the matter from the other end and try
to get at the principal. Did this house-agent man give any address?
Simply his card and occupation. Haines-Johnson,
Auctioneer and Valuer.
I dont think we shall find him in the directory.
Honest business men dont conceal their place of business. Well, you will let me know
any fresh development. I have taken up your case, and you may rely upon it that I shall
see it through.
As we passed through the hall Holmess eyes, which missed
nothing, lighted upon several trunks and cases which were piled in a corner. The labels
shone out upon them.
Milano. Lucerne. These are from
They are poor Douglass things.
You have not unpacked them? How long have you had
They arrived last week.
But you saidwhy, surely this might be the missing link. How do we know that
there is not something of value there?
There could not possibly be, Mr. Holmes. Poor Douglas
had only his pay and a small annuity. What could he have of value?
Holmes was lost in thought.
Delay no longer, Mrs. Maberley, he said at last.
Have these things taken upstairs to your bedroom. Examine them as soon as possible
and see what they contain. I will come to-morrow and hear your report.
It was quite evident that The Three Gables was under very
close surveillance, for as we came round the high hedge at the end of the lane there was
the negro prize-fighter standing in the shadow. We came on him quite suddenly, and a grim
and menacing figure he looked in that lonely place. Holmes clapped his hand to his pocket.
Lookin for your gun, Masser Holmes?
No, for my scent-bottle, Steve.
You are funny, Masser Holmes, aint you?
It wont be funny for you, Steve, if I get after
you. I gave you fair warning this morning.
Well, Masser Holmes, I done gone think over what you
said, and I dont want no more talk about that affair of Masser Perkins. Spose
I can help you, Masser Holmes, I will.
Well, then, tell me who is behind you on this job.
So help me the Lord! Masser Holmes, I told you the truth
before. I dont know. My boss Barney gives me orders and thats all.
Well, just bear in mind, Steve, that the lady in that
house, and everything under that roof, is under my protection. Dont forget it.
All right, Masser Holmes. Ill remember.
Ive got him thoroughly frightened for his own
skin, Watson, Holmes remarked as we walked on. I think he would double-cross
his employer if he knew who he was. It was lucky I had some knowledge of the Spencer John
crowd, and that Steve was one of them. Now, Watson, this is a case for Langdale Pike, and
I am going to see him now. When I get back I may be clearer in the matter.
I saw no more of Holmes during the day, but I could well
imagine how he spent it, for Langdale Pike was his human book of reference upon all
matters of social scandal. This strange, languid creature spent his waking hours in the
bow window of a St. Jamess Street club and was the receiving-station as well as the
transmitter for all the gossip of the metropolis. He made, it was said, a four-figure
income by the paragraphs which he contributed every week to the garbage papers which cater
to an inquisitive public. If ever, far down in the turbid depths of London life, there was
some strange swirl or eddy, it was marked with automatic exactness by this human dial upon
the surface. Holmes discreetly helped Langdale to knowledge, and on occasion was helped in
When I met my friend in his room early next morning, I was
conscious from his bearing that all was well, but none the less a most unpleasant surprise
was awaiting us. It took the shape of the following telegram:
- Please come out at once. Clients house burgled in the
night. Police in possession.
Holmes whistled. The drama has come to a crisis, and quicker than I had expected.
There is a great driving-power at the back of this business, Watson, which does not
surprise me after what I have heard. This Sutro, of course, is her lawyer. I made a
mistake, I fear, in not asking you to spend the night on guard. This fellow has clearly
proved a broken reed. Well, there is nothing for it but another journey to Harrow
We found The Three Gables a very different establishment to
the orderly household of the previous day. A small group of idlers had assembled at the
garden gate, while a couple of constables were examining the windows and the geranium
beds. Within we met a gray old gentleman, who introduced himself as the lawyer, together
with a bustling, rubicund inspector, who greeted Holmes as an old friend.
Well, Mr. Holmes, no chance for you in this case,
Im afraid. Just a common, ordinary burglary, and well within the capacity of the
poor old police. No experts need apply.
I am sure the case is in very good hands, said
Holmes. Merely a common burglary, you say?
Quite so. We know pretty well who the men are and where
to find them. It is that gang of Barney Stockdale, with the big nigger in
ittheyve been seen about here.
Excellent! What did they get?
Well, they dont seem to have got much. Mrs.
Maberley was chloroformed and the house was Ah! here is the lady
Our friend of yesterday, looking very pale and ill, had
entered the room, leaning upon a little maidservant.
You gave me good advice, Mr. Holmes, said she,
smiling ruefully. Alas, I did not take it! I did not wish to trouble Mr. Sutro, and
so I was unprotected.
I only heard of it this morning, the lawyer
Mr. Holmes advised me to have some friend in the house.
I neglected his advice, and I have paid for it.
You look wretchedly ill, said Holmes.
Perhaps you are hardly equal to telling me what occurred.
It is all here, said the inspector, tapping a
Still, if the lady is not too exhausted
There is really so little to tell. I have no doubt that
wicked Susan had planned an entrance for them. They must have known the house to an inch.
I was conscious for a moment of the chloroform rag which was thrust over my mouth, but I
have no notion how long I may have been senseless. When I woke, one man was at the bedside
and another was rising with a bundle in his hand from among my sons baggage, which
was partially opened and littered over the floor. Before he could get away I sprang up and
You took a big risk, said the inspector.
I clung to him, but he shook me off, and the other may
have struck me, for I can remember no more. Mary the maid heard the noise and began
screaming out of the window. That brought the police, but the rascals had got away.
What did they take?
Well, I dont think there is anything of value
missing. I am sure there was nothing in my sons trunks.
Did the men leave no clue?
There was one sheet of paper which I may have torn from
the man that I 
grasped. It was lying all crumpled on the floor. It is in my sons handwriting.
Which means that it is not of much use, said the
inspector. Now if it had been in the burglars
Exactly, said Holmes. What rugged common
sense! None the less, I should be curious to see it.
The inspector drew a folded sheet of foolscap from his
I never pass anything, however trifling, said he
with some pomposity. That is my advice to you, Mr. Holmes. In twenty-five
years experience I have learned my lesson. There is always the chance of
finger-marks or something.
Holmes inspected the sheet of paper.
What do you make of it, Inspector?
Seems to be the end of some queer novel, so far as I can
It may certainly prove to be the end of a queer
tale, said Holmes. You have noticed the number on the top of the page. It is
two hundred and forty-five. Where are the odd two hundred and forty-four pages?
Well, I suppose the burglars got those. Much good may it
It seems a queer thing to break into a house in order to
steal such papers as that. Does it suggest anything to you, Inspector?
Yes, sir, it suggests that in their hurry the rascals
just grabbed at what came first to hand. I wish them joy of what they got.
Why should they go to my sons things? asked
Well, they found nothing valuable downstairs, so they
tried their luck upstairs. That is how I read it. What do you make of it, Mr.
I must think it over, Inspector. Come to the window,
Watson. Then, as we stood together, he read over the fragment of paper. It began in
the middle of a sentence and ran like this:
- ... face bled considerably from the cuts and blows,
but it was nothing to the bleeding of his heart as he saw that lovely face, the face for
which he had been prepared to sacrifice his very life, looking out at his agony and
humiliation. She smiledyes, by Heaven! she smiled, like the heartless fiend she was,
as he looked up at her. It was at that moment that love died and hate was born. Man must
live for something. If it is not for your embrace, my lady, then it shall surely be for
your undoing and my complete revenge.
Queer grammar! said Holmes with a smile as he
handed the paper back to the inspector. Did you notice how the he
suddenly changed to my? The writer was so carried away by his own story that
he imagined himself at the supreme moment to be the hero.
It seemed mighty poor stuff, said the inspector as
he replaced it in his book. What! are you off, Mr. Holmes?
I dont think there is anything more for me to do
now that the case is in such capable hands. By the way, Mrs. Maberley, did you say you
wished to travel?
It has always been my dream, Mr. Holmes.
Where would you like to goCairo, Madeira, the
Oh, if I had the money I would go round the world.
Quite so. Round the world. Well, good-morning. I may
drop you a line in the evening. As we passed the window I caught a glimpse of the
inspectors smile and shake of the head. These clever fellows have always a
touch of madness. That was what I read in the inspectors smile.
Now, Watson, we are at the last lap of our little journey, said Holmes when we
were back in the roar of central London once more. I think we had best clear the
matter up at once, and it would be well that you should come with me, for it is safer to
have a witness when you are dealing with such a lady as Isadora Klein.
We had taken a cab and were speeding to some address in
Grosvenor Square. Holmes had been sunk in thought, but he roused himself suddenly.
By the way, Watson, I suppose you see it all
No, I cant say that I do. I only gather that we
are going to see the lady who is behind all this mischief.
Exactly! But does the name Isadora Klein convey nothing
to you? She was, of course, the celebrated beauty. There was never a woman to
touch her. She is pure Spanish, the real blood of the masterful Conquistadors, and her
people have been leaders in Pernambuco for generations. She married the aged German sugar
king, Klein, and presently found herself the richest as well as the most lovely widow upon
earth. Then there was an interval of adventure when she pleased her own tastes. She had
several lovers, and Douglas Maberley, one of the most striking men in London, was one of
them. It was by all accounts more than an adventure with him. He was not a society
butterfly but a strong, proud man who gave and expected all. But she is the belle
dame sans merci of fiction. When her caprice is satisfied the matter is ended,
and if the other party in the matter cant take her word for it she knows how to
bring it home to him.
Then that was his own story
Ah! you are piecing it together now. I hear that she is
about to marry the young Duke of Lomond, who might almost be her son. His Graces ma
might overlook the age, but a big scandal would be a different matter, so it is
imperative Ah! here we are.
It was one of the finest corner-houses of the West End. A
machine-like footman took up our cards and returned with word that the lady was not at
home. Then we shall wait until she is, said Holmes cheerfully.
The machine broke down.
Not at home means not at home to you,
said the footman.
Good, Holmes answered. That means that we
shall not have to wait. Kindly give this note to your mistress.
He scribbled three or four words upon a sheet of his notebook,
folded it, and handed it to the man.
What did you say, Holmes? I asked.
I simply wrote: Shall it be the police,
then? I think that should pass us in.
It didwith amazing celerity. A minute later we were in
an Arabian Nights drawing-room, vast and wonderful, in a half gloom, picked out with an
occasional pink electric light. The lady had come, I felt, to that time of life when even
the proudest beauty finds the half light more welcome. She rose from a settee as we
entered: tall, queenly, a perfect figure, a lovely mask-like face, with two wonderful
Spanish eyes which looked murder at us both.
What is this intrusionand this insulting
message? she asked, holding up the slip of paper.
I need not explain, madame. I have too much respect for
your intelligence to do sothough I confess that intelligence has been surprisingly
at fault of late.
How so, sir?
By supposing that your hired bullies could frighten me
from my work. Surely 
no man would take up my profession if it were not that danger attracts him. It was you,
then, who forced me to examine the case of young Maberley.
I have no idea what you are talking about. What have I
to do with hired bullies?
Holmes turned away wearily.
Yes, I have underrated your intelligence. Well,
Stop! Where are you going?
To Scotland Yard.
We had not got halfway to the door before she had overtaken us
and was holding his arm. She had turned in a moment from steel to velvet.
Come and sit down, gentlemen. Let us talk this matter
over. I feel that I may be frank with you, Mr. Holmes. You have the feelings of a
gentleman. How quick a womans instinct is to find it out. I will treat you as a
I cannot promise to reciprocate, madame. I am not the
law, but I represent justice so far as my feeble powers go. I am ready to listen, and then
I will tell you how I will act.
No doubt it was foolish of me to threaten a brave man
What was really foolish, madame, is that you have placed
yourself in the power of a band of rascals who may blackmail or give you away.
No, no! I am not so simple. Since I have promised to be
frank, I may say that no one, save Barney Stockdale and Susan, his wife, have the least
idea who their employer is. As to them, well, it is not the first She
smiled and nodded with a charming coquettish intimacy.
I see. Youve tested them before.
They are good hounds who run silent.
Such hounds have a way sooner or later of biting the
hand that feeds them. They will be arrested for this burglary. The police are already
They will take what comes to them. That is what they are
paid for. I shall not appear in the matter.
Unless I bring you into it.
No, no, you would not. You are a gentleman. It is a
In the first place, you must give back this
She broke into a ripple of laughter and walked to the
fireplace. There was a calcined mass which she broke up with the poker. Shall I give
this back? she asked. So roguish and exquisite did she look as she stood before us
with a challenging smile that I felt of all Holmess criminals this was the one whom
he would find it hardest to face. However, he was immune from sentiment.
That seals your fate, he said coldly. You
are very prompt in your actions, madame, but you have overdone it on this occasion.
She threw the poker down with a clatter.
How hard you are! she cried. May I tell you
the whole story?
I fancy I could tell it to you.
But you must look at it with my eyes, Mr. Holmes. You
must realize it from the point of view of a woman who sees all her lifes ambition
about to be ruined at the last moment. Is such a woman to be blamed if she protects
The original sin was yours.
Yes, yes! I admit it. He was a dear boy, Douglas, but it
so chanced that he could not fit into my plans. He wanted marriagemarriage, Mr.
Holmes with a penniless commoner. Nothing less would serve him. Then he became
Because I had given he seemed to think that I still must give, and to him only. It was
intolerable. At last I had to make him realize it.
By hiring ruffians to beat him under your own
You do indeed seem to know everything. Well, it is true.
Barney and the boys drove him away, and were, I admit, a little rough in doing so. But
what did he do then? Could I have believed that a gentleman would do such an act? He wrote
a book in which he described his own story. I, of course, was the wolf; he the lamb. It
was all there, under different names, of course; but who in all London would have failed
to recognize it? What do you say to that, Mr. Holmes?
Well, he was within his rights.
It was as if the air of Italy had got into his blood and
brought with it the old cruel Italian spirit. He wrote to me and sent me a copy of his
book that I might have the torture of anticipation. There were two copies, he said
one for me, one for his publisher.
How did you know the publishers had not reached
I knew who his publisher was. It is not his only novel,
you know. I found out that he had not heard from Italy. Then came Douglass sudden
death. So long as that other manuscript was in the world there was no safety for me. Of
course, it must be among his effects, and these would be returned to his mother. I set the
gang at work. One of them got into the house as servant. I wanted to do the thing
honestly. I really and truly did. I was ready to buy the house and everything in it. I
offered any price she cared to ask. I only tried the other way when everything else had
failed. Now, Mr. Holmes, granting that I was too hard on Douglasand, God knows, I am
sorry for it!what else could I do with my whole future at stake?
Sherlock Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
Well, well, said he, I suppose I shall have
to compound a felony as usual. How much does it cost to go round the world in first-class
The lady stared in amazement.
Could it be done on five thousand pounds?
Well, I should think so, indeed!
Very good. I think you will sign me a check for that,
and I will see that it comes to Mrs. Maberley. You owe her a little change of air.
Meantime, lady he wagged a cautionary forefingerhave a care! Have
a care! You cant play with edged tools forever without cutting those dainty