Dr. Watson could not restrain a cry of amazement. There was a
facsimile of his old friend, dressing-gown and all, the face turned three-quarters towards
the window and downward, as though reading an invisible book, while the body was sunk deep
in an armchair. Billy detached the head and held it in the air.
We put it at different angles, so that it may seem more
lifelike. I wouldnt dare touch it if the blind were not down. But when its up
you can see this from across the way.
We used something of the sort once before.
Before my time, said Billy. He drew the window
curtains apart and looked out into the street. There are folk who watch us from over
yonder. I can see a fellow now at the window. Have a look for yourself.
Watson had taken a step forward when the bedroom door opened,
and the long, thin form of Holmes emerged, his face pale and drawn, but his step and
bearing as active as ever. With a single spring he was at the window, and had drawn the
blind once more.
That will do, Billy, said he. You were in
danger of your life then, my boy, and I cant do without you just yet. Well, Watson,
it is good to see you in your old quarters once again. You come at a critical
So I gather.
You can go, Billy. That boy is a problem, Watson. How
far am I justified in allowing him to be in danger?
Danger of what, Holmes?
Of sudden death. Im expecting something this
To be murdered, Watson.
no, you are joking, Holmes!
Even my limited sense of humour could evolve a better
joke than that. But we may be comfortable in the meantime, may we not? Is alcohol
permitted? The gasogene and cigars are in the old place. Let me see you once more in the
customary armchair. You have not, I hope, learned to despise my pipe and my lamentable
tobacco? It has to take the place of food these days.
But why not eat?
Because the faculties become refined when you starve
them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion
gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The
rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.
But this danger, Holmes?
Ah, yes, in case it should come off, it would perhaps be
as well that you should burden your memory with the name and address of the murderer. You
can give it to Scotland Yard, with my love and a parting blessing. Sylvius is the
nameCount Negretto Sylvius. Write it down, man, write it down! 136 Moorside Gardens,
N. W. Got it?
Watsons honest face was twitching with anxiety. He knew
only too well the immense risks taken by Holmes and was well aware that what he said was
more likely to be under-statement than exaggeration. Watson was always the man of action,
and he rose to the occasion.
Count me in, Holmes. I have nothing to do for a day or
Your morals dont improve, Watson. You have added
fibbing to your other vices. You bear every sign of the busy medical man, with calls on
him every hour.
Not such important ones. But cant you have this
Yes, Watson, I could. Thats what worries him
But why dont you?
Because I dont know where the diamond is.
Ah! Billy told methe missing Crown jewel!
Yes, the great yellow Mazarin stone. Ive cast my
net and I have my fish. But I have not got the stone. What is the use of taking them?
We can make the world a better place by laying them by the heels. But that is not what I
am out for. Its the stone I want.
And is this Count Sylvius one of your fish?
Yes, and hes a shark. He bites. The other is Sam
Merton, the boxer. Not a bad fellow, Sam, but the Count has used him. Sams not a
shark. He is a great big silly bull-headed gudgeon. But he is flopping about in my net all
Where is this Count Sylvius?
Ive been at his very elbow all the morning.
Youve seen me as an old lady, Watson. I was never more convincing. He actually
picked up my parasol for me once. By your leave, madame, said
hehalf-Italian, you know, and with the Southern graces of manner when in the mood,
but a devil incarnate in the other mood. Life is full of whimsical happenings,
It might have been tragedy.
Well, perhaps it might. I followed him to old
Straubenzees workshop in the Minories. Straubenzee made the air-guna very
pretty bit of work, as I understand, and I rather fancy it is in the opposite window at
the present moment. Have you seen the dummy? Of course, Billy showed it to you. Well, it
may get a bullet through its beautiful head at any moment. Ah, Billy, what is it?
boy had reappeared in the room with a card upon a tray. Holmes glanced at it with raised
eyebrows and an amused smile.
The man himself. I had hardly expected this. Grasp the
nettle, Watson! A man of nerve. Possibly you have heard of his reputation as a shooter of
big game. It would indeed be a triumphant ending to his excellent sporting record if he
added me to his bag. This is a proof that he feels my toe very close behind his
Send for the police.
I probably shall. But not just yet. Would you glance
carefully out of the window, Watson, and see if anyone is hanging about in the
Watson looked warily round the edge of the curtain.
Yes, there is one rough fellow near the door.
That will be Sam Mertonthe faithful but rather
fatuous Sam. Where is this gentleman, Billy?
In the waiting-room, sir.
Show him up when I ring.
If I am not in the room, show him in all the same.
Watson waited until the door was closed, and then he turned
earnestly to his companion.
Look here, Holmes, this is simply impossible. This is a
desperate man, who sticks at nothing. He may have come to murder you.
I should not be surprised.
I insist upon staying with you.
You would be horribly in the way.
In his way?
No, my dear fellowin my way.
Well, I cant possibly leave you.
Yes, you can, Watson. And you will, for you have never
failed to play the game. I am sure you will play it to the end. This man has come for his
own purpose, but he may stay for mine. Holmes took out his notebook and scribbled a
few lines. Take a cab to Scotland Yard and give this to Youghal of the C. I. D. Come
back with the police. The fellows arrest will follow.
Ill do that with joy.
Before you return I may have just time enough to find
out where the stone is. He touched the bell. I think we will go out through
the bedroom. This second exit is exceedingly useful. I rather want to see my shark without
his seeing me, and I have, as you will remember, my own way of doing it.
It was, therefore, an empty room into which Billy, a minute
later, ushered Count Sylvius. The famous game-shot, sportsman, and man-about-town was a
big, swarthy fellow, with a formidable dark moustache shading a cruel, thin-lipped mouth,
and surmounted by a long, curved nose like the beak of an eagle. He was well dressed, but
his brilliant necktie, shining pin, and glittering rings were flamboyant in their effect.
As the door closed behind him he looked round him with fierce, startled eyes, like one who
suspects a trap at every turn. Then he gave a violent start as he saw the impassive head
and the collar of the dressing-gown which projected above the armchair in the window. At
first his expression was one of pure amazement. Then the light of a horrible hope gleamed
in his dark,  murderous
eyes. He took one more glance round to see that there were no witnesses, and then, on
tiptoe, his thick stick half raised, he approached the silent figure. He was crouching for
his final spring and blow when a cool, sardonic voice greeted him from the open bedroom
Dont break it, Count! Dont break
The assassin staggered back, amazement in his convulsed face.
For an instant he half raised his loaded cane once more, as if he would turn his violence
from the effigy to the original; but there was something in that steady gray eye and
mocking smile which caused his hand to sink to his side.
Its a pretty little thing, said Holmes,
advancing towards the image. Tavernier, the French modeller, made it. He is as good
at waxworks as your friend Straubenzee is at air-guns.
Air-guns, sir! What do you mean?
Put your hat and stick on the side-table. Thank you!
Pray take a seat. Would you care to put your revolver out also? Oh, very good, if you
prefer to sit upon it. Your visit is really most opportune, for I wanted badly to have a
few minutes chat with you.
The Count scowled, with heavy, threatening eyebrows.
I, too, wished to have some words with you, Holmes. That
is why I am here. I wont deny that I intended to assault you just now.
Holmes swung his leg on the edge of the table.
I rather gathered that you had some idea of the sort in
your head, said he. But why these personal attentions?
Because you have gone out of your way to annoy me.
Because you have put your creatures upon my track.
My creatures! I assure you no!
Nonsense! I have had them followed. Two can play at that
It is a small point, Count Sylvius, but perhaps you
would kindly give me my prefix when you address me. You can understand that, with my
routine of work, I should find myself on familiar terms with half the rogues
gallery, and you will agree that exceptions are invidious.
Well, Mr. Holmes, then.
Excellent! But I assure you you are mistaken about my
Count Sylvius laughed contemptuously.
Other people can observe as well as you. Yesterday there
was an old sporting man. To-day it was an elderly woman. They held me in view all
Really, sir, you compliment me. Old Baron Dowson said
the night before he was hanged that in my case what the law had gained the stage had lost.
And now you give my little impersonations your kindly praise?
It was youyou yourself?
Holmes shrugged his shoulders. You can see in the corner
the parasol which you so politely handed to me in the Minories before you began to
If I had known, you might never
Have seen this humble home again. I was well aware of
it. We all have neglected opportunities to deplore. As it happens, you did not know, so
here we are!
The Counts knotted brows gathered more heavily over his
menacing eyes. What you say only makes the matter worse. It was not your agents but
your play-acting, busybody self! You admit that you have dogged me. Why?
Come now, Count. You used to shoot lions in
Why? The sportthe excitementthe
And, no doubt, to free the country from a pest?
My reasons in a nutshell!
The Count sprang to his feet, and his hand involuntarily moved
back to his hip-pocket.
Sit down, sir, sit down! There was another, more
practical, reason. I want that yellow diamond!
Count Sylvius lay back in his chair with an evil smile.
Upon my word! said he.
You knew that I was after you for that. The real reason
why you are here to-night is to find out how much I know about the matter and how far my
removal is absolutely essential. Well, I should say that, from your point of view, it is
absolutely essential, for I know all about it, save only one thing, which you are about to
Oh, indeed! And pray, what is this missing fact?
Where the Crown diamond now is.
The Count looked sharply at his companion. Oh, you want
to know that, do you? How the devil should I be able to tell you where it is?
You can, and you will.
You cant bluff me, Count Sylvius.
Holmess eyes, as he gazed at him, contracted and lightened until they were like two
menacing points of steel. You are absolute plate-glass. I see to the very back of
Then, of course, you see where the diamond is!
Holmes clapped his hands with amusement, and then pointed a
derisive finger. Then you do know. You have admitted it!
I admit nothing.
Now, Count, if you will be reasonable we can do
business. If not, you will get hurt.
Count Sylvius threw up his eyes to the ceiling. And you
talk about bluff! said he.
Holmes looked at him thoughtfully like a master chess-player
who meditates his crowning move. Then he threw open the table drawer and drew out a squat
Do you know what I keep in this book?
No, sir, I do not!
Yes, sir, you! You are all hereevery action of
your vile and dangerous life.
Damn you, Holmes! cried the Count with blazing
eyes. There are limits to my patience!
Its all here, Count. The real facts as to the
death of old Mrs. Harold, who left you the Blymer estate, which you so rapidly gambled
You are dreaming!
And the complete life history of Miss Minnie
Tut! You will make nothing of that!
more here, Count. Here is the robbery in the train de-luxe to the Riviera on February 13,
1892. Here is the forged check in the same year on the Credit Lyonnais.
No; youre wrong there.
Then I am right on the others! Now, Count, you are a
card-player. When the other fellow has all the trumps, it saves time to throw down your
What has all this talk to do with the jewel of which you
Gently, Count. Restrain that eager mind! Let me get to
the points in my own humdrum fashion. I have all this against you; but, above all, I have
a clear case against both you and your fighting bully in the case of the Crown
I have the cabman who took you to Whitehall and the
cabman who brought you away. I have the commissionaire who saw you near the case. I have
Ikey Sanders, who refused to cut it up for you. Ikey has peached, and the game is
The veins stood out on the Counts forehead. His dark,
hairy hands were clenched in a convulsion of restrained emotion. He tried to speak, but
the words would not shape themselves.
Thats the hand I play from, said Holmes.
I put it all upon the table. But one card is missing. Its the king of
diamonds. I dont know where the stone is.
You never shall know.
No? Now, be reasonable, Count. Consider the situation.
You are going to be locked up for twenty years. So is Sam Merton. What good are you going
to get out of your diamond? None in the world. But if you hand it overwell,
Ill compound a felony. We dont want you or Sam. We want the stone. Give that
up, and so far as I am concerned you can go free so long as you behave yourself in the
future. If you make another slipwell, it will be the last. But this time my
commission is to get the stone, not you.
But if I refuse?
Why, thenalas!it must be you and not the
Billy had appeared in answer to a ring.
I think, Count, that it would be as well to have your
friend Sam at this conference. After all, his interests should be represented. Billy, you
will see a large and ugly gentleman outside the front door. Ask him to come up.
If he wont come, sir?
No violence, Billy. Dont be rough with him. If you
tell him that Count Sylvius wants him he will certainly come.
What are you going to do now? asked the Count as
My friend Watson was with me just now. I told him that I
had a shark and a gudgeon in my net; now I am drawing the net and up they come
The Count had risen from his chair, and his hand was behind
his back. Holmes held something half protruding from the pocket of his dressing-gown.
You wont die in your bed, Holmes.
I have often had the same idea. Does it matter very
much? After all, Count, your own exit is more likely to be perpendicular than horizontal.
But these anticipations of the future are morbid. Why not give ourselves up to the
unrestrained enjoyment of the present?
A sudden wild-beast light sprang up in the dark, menacing eyes
of the master criminal. Holmess figure seemed to grow taller as he grew tense and
It is no use your fingering your revolver, my
friend, he said in a quiet voice. 
You know perfectly well that you dare not use it, even if I gave you
time to draw it. Nasty, noisy things, revolvers, Count. Better stick to air-guns. Ah! I
think I hear the fairy footstep of your estimable partner. Good day, Mr. Merton. Rather
dull in the street, is it not?
The prize-fighter, a heavily built young man with a stupid,
obstinate, slab-sided face, stood awkwardly at the door, looking about him with a puzzled
expression. Holmess debonair manner was a new experience, and though he vaguely felt
that it was hostile, he did not know how to counter it. He turned to his more astute
comrade for help.
Whats the game now, Count? Whats this fellow
want? Whats up? His voice was deep and raucous.
The Count shrugged his shoulders, and it was Holmes who
If I may put it in a nutshell, Mr. Merton, I should say
it was all up.
The boxer still addressed his remarks to his associate.
Is this cove trying to be funny, or what? Im not
in the funny mood myself.
No, I expect not, said Holmes. I think I
can promise you that you will feel even less humorous as the evening advances. Now, look
here, Count Sylvius. Im a busy man and I cant waste time. Im going into
that bedroom. Pray make yourselves quite at home in my absence. You can explain to your
friend how the matter lies without the restraint of my presence. I shall try over the
Hoffman Barcarole upon my violin. In five minutes I shall return for your
final answer. You quite grasp the alternative, do you not? Shall we take you, or shall we
have the stone?
Holmes withdrew, picking up his violin from the corner as he
passed. A few moments later the long-drawn, wailing notes of that most haunting of tunes
came faintly through the closed door of the bedroom.
What is it, then? asked Merton anxiously as his
companion turned to him. Does he know about the stone?
He knows a damned sight too much about it. Im not
sure that he doesnt know all about it.
Good Lord! The boxers sallow face turned a
Ikey Sanders has split on us.
He has, has he? Ill do him down a thick un
for that if I swing for it.
That wont help us much. Weve got to make up
our minds what to do.
Half a mo, said the boxer, looking
suspiciously at the bedroom door. Hes a leary cove that wants watching. I
suppose hes not listening?
How can he be listening with that music going?
Thats right. Maybe somebodys behind a
curtain. Too many curtains in this room. As he looked round he suddenly saw for the
first time the effigy in the window, and stood staring and pointing, too amazed for words.
Tut! its only a dummy, said the Count.
A fake, is it? Well, strike me! Madame Tussaud
aint in it. Its the living spit of him, gown and all. But them curtains,
Oh, confound the curtains! We are wasting our time, and
there is none too much. He can lag us over this stone.
The deuce he can!
But hell let us slip if we only tell him where the
What! Give it up? Give up a hundred thousand quid?
Its one or the other.
Merton scratched his short-cropped pate.
alone in there. Lets do him in. If his light were out we should have nothing to
The Count shook his head.
He is armed and ready. If we shot him we could hardly
get away in a place like this. Besides, its likely enough that the police know
whatever evidence he has got. Hallo! What was that?
There was a vague sound which seemed to come from the window.
Both men sprang round, but all was quiet. Save for the one strange figure seated in the
chair, the room was certainly empty.
Something in the street, said Merton. Now
look here, guvnor, youve got the brains. Surely you can think a way out of it.
If slugging is no use then its up to you.
Ive fooled better men than he, the Count
answered. The stone is here in my secret pocket. I take no chances leaving it about.
It can be out of England to-night and cut into four pieces in Amsterdam before Sunday. He
knows nothing of Van Seddar.
I thought Van Seddar was going next week.
He was. But now he must get off by the next boat. One or
other of us must slip round with the stone to Lime Street and tell him.
But the false bottom aint ready.
Well, he must take it as it is and chance it.
Theres not a moment to lose. Again, with the sense of danger which becomes an
instinct with the sportsman, he paused and looked hard at the window. Yes, it was surely
from the street that the faint sound had come.
As to Holmes, he continued, we can fool him
easily enough. You see, the damned fool wont arrest us if he can get the stone.
Well, well promise him the stone. Well put him on the wrong track about it,
and before he finds that it is the wrong track it will be in Holland and we out of the
That sounds good to me! cried Sam Merton with a
You go on and tell the Dutchman to get a move on him.
Ill see this sucker and fill him up with a bogus confession. Ill tell him that
the stone is in Liverpool. Confound that whining music; it gets on my nerves! By the time
he finds it isnt in Liverpool it will be in quarters and we on the blue water. Come
back here, out of a line with that keyhole. Here is the stone.
I wonder you dare carry it.
Where could I have it safer? If we could take it out of
Whitehall someone else could surely take it out of my lodgings.
Lets have a look at it.
Count Sylvius cast a somewhat unflattering glance at his
associate and disregarded the unwashed hand which was extended towards him.
Whatdye think Im going to snatch it
off you? See here, mister, Im getting a bit tired of your ways.
Well, well, no offence, Sam. We cant afford to
quarrel. Come over to the window if you want to see the beauty properly. Now hold it to
the light! Here!
With a single spring Holmes had leaped from the dummys
chair and had grasped the precious jewel. He held it now in one hand, while his other
pointed a revolver at the Counts head. The two villains staggered back in utter
amazement. Before they had recovered Holmes had pressed the electric bell.
violence, gentlemenno violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture! It must be
very clear to you that your position is an impossible one. The police are waiting
The Counts bewilderment overmastered his rage and fear.
But how the deuce ? he gasped.
Your surprise is very natural. You are not aware that a
second door from my bedroom leads behind that curtain. I fancied that you must have heard
me when I displaced the figure, but luck was on my side. It gave me a chance of listening
to your racy conversation which would have been painfully constrained had you been aware
of my presence.
The Count gave a gesture of resignation.
We give you best, Holmes. I believe you are the devil
Not far from him, at any rate, Holmes answered
with a polite smile.
Sam Mertons slow intellect had only gradually
appreciated the situation. Now, as the sound of heavy steps came from the stairs outside,
he broke silence at last.
A fair cop! said he. But, I say, what about
that bloomin fiddle! I hear it yet.
Tut, tut! Holmes answered. You are perfectly
right. Let it play! These modern gramophones are a remarkable invention.
There was an inrush of police, the handcuffs clicked and the
criminals were led to the waiting cab. Watson lingered with Holmes, congratulating him
upon this fresh leaf added to his laurels. Once more their conversation was interrupted by
the imperturbable Billy with his card-tray.
Lord Cantlemere, sir.
Show him up, Billy. This is the eminent peer who
represents the very highest interests, said Holmes. He is an excellent and
loyal person, but rather of the old regime. Shall we make him unbend? Dare we venture upon
a slight liberty? He knows, we may conjecture, nothing of what has occurred.
The door opened to admit a thin, austere figure with a hatchet
face and drooping mid-Victorian whiskers of a glossy blackness which hardly corresponded
with the rounded shoulders and feeble gait. Holmes advanced affably, and shook an
How do you do, Lord Cantlemere? It is chilly for the
time of year, but rather warm indoors. May I take your overcoat?
No, I thank you; I will not take it off.
Holmes laid his hand insistently upon the sleeve.
Pray allow me! My friend Dr. Watson would assure you
that these changes of temperature are most insidious.
His Lordship shook himself free with some impatience.
I am quite comfortable, sir. I have no need to stay. I
have simply looked in to know how your self-appointed task was progressing.
It is difficultvery difficult.
I feared that you would find it so.
There was a distinct sneer in the old courtiers words
Every man finds his limitations, Mr. Holmes, but at
least it cures us of the weakness of self-satisfaction.
Yes, sir, I have been much perplexed.
Especially upon one point. Possibly you could help me
apply for my advice rather late in the day. I thought that you had your own all-sufficient
methods. Still, I am ready to help you.
You see, Lord Cantlemere, we can no doubt frame a case
against the actual thieves.
When you have caught them.
Exactly. But the question ishow shall we proceed
against the receiver?
Is this not rather premature?
It is as well to have our plans ready. Now, what would
you regard as final evidence against the receiver?
The actual possession of the stone.
You would arrest him upon that?
Holmes seldom laughed, but he got as near it as his old friend
Watson could remember.
In that case, my dear sir, I shall be under the painful
necessity of advising your arrest.
Lord Cantlemere was very angry. Some of the ancient fires
flickered up into his sallow cheeks.
You take a great liberty, Mr. Holmes. In fifty years of
official life I cannot recall such a case. I am a busy man, sir, engaged upon important
affairs, and I have no time or taste for foolish jokes. I may tell you frankly, sir, that
I have never been a believer in your powers, and that I have always been of the opinion
that the matter was far safer in the hands of the regular police force. Your conduct
confirms all my conclusions. I have the honour, sir, to wish you good-evening.
Holmes had swiftly changed his position and was between the
peer and the door.
One moment, sir, said he. To actually go off
with the Mazarin stone would be a more serious offence than to be found in temporary
possession of it.
Sir, this is intolerable! Let me pass.
Put your hand in the right-hand pocket of your
What do you mean, sir?
Comecome, do what I ask.
An instant later the amazed peer was standing, blinking and
stammering, with the great yellow stone on his shaking palm.
What! What! How is this, Mr. Holmes?
Too bad, Lord Cantlemere, too bad! cried Holmes.
My old friend here will tell you that I have an impish habit of practical joking.
Also that I can never resist a dramatic situation. I took the libertythe very great
liberty, I admitof putting the stone into your pocket at the beginning of our
The old peer stared from the stone to the smiling face before
Sir, I am bewildered. Butyesit is indeed the
Mazarin stone. We are greatly your debtors, Mr. Holmes. Your sense of humour may, as you
admit, be somewhat perverted, and its exhibition remarkably untimely, but at least I
withdraw any reflection I have made upon your amazing professional powers. But how
The case is but half finished; the details can wait. No
doubt, Lord Cantlemere, your pleasure in telling of this successful result in the exalted
circle to which you return will be some small atonement for my practical joke. Billy, you
will show his Lordship out, and tell Mrs. Hudson that I should be glad if she would send
up dinner for two as soon as possible.