He held down the lamp to the floor, and as he did so I saw
for the second time that night a startled, surprised look come over his face. For myself,
as I followed his gaze, my skin was cold under my clothes. The floor was covered thickly
with the prints of a naked footclear, well-defined, perfectly formed, but scarce
half the size of those of an ordinary man.
Holmes, I said in a whisper, a child has
done this horrid thing.
He had recovered his self-possession in an instant.
I was staggered for the moment, he said, but
the thing is quite natural. My memory failed me, or I should have been able to foretell
it. There is nothing more to be learned here. Let us go down.
What is your theory, then, as to those footmarks?
I asked eagerly when we had regained the lower room once more.
My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself,
said he with a touch of impatience. You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be
instructive to compare results.
I cannot conceive anything which will cover the
facts, I answered.
It will be clear enough to you soon, he said, in
an offhand way. I think that there is nothing else of importance here, but I will
He whipped out his lens and a tape measure and hurried about
the room on his knees, measuring, comparing, examining, with his long thin nose only a few
inches from the planks and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So
swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained bloodhound picking
out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he
turned his energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defence. As
he hunted about, he kept muttering to himself, and finally he broke out into a loud crow
We are certainly in luck, said he. We ought
to have very little trouble now. Number One has had the misfortune to tread in the
creosote. You can see the outline of the edge of his small foot here at the side of this
evil-smelling mess. The carboy has been cracked, you see, and the stuff has leaked
What then? I asked.
Why, we have got him, thats all, said he.
I know a dog that would follow that scent to the
worlds end. If a pack can track a trailed herring across a shire, how far can a
specially trained hound follow so pungent a smell as this? It sounds like a sum in the
rule of three. The answer should give us the But hallo! here are the
accredited representatives of the law.
Heavy steps and the clamour of loud voices were audible from
below, and the hall door shut with a loud crash.
Before they come, said Holmes, just put your
hand here on this poor fellows arm, and here on his leg. What do you feel?
The muscles are as hard as a board, I answered.
Quite so. They are in a state of extreme contraction,
far exceeding the usual rigor mortis. Coupled with this distortion of the face, this
Hippocratic smile, or risus sardonicus, as the old writers called it,
what conclusion would it suggest to your mind?
from some powerful vegetable alkaloid, I answered, some strychnine-like
substance which would produce tetanus.
That was the idea which occurred to me the instant I saw
the drawn muscles of the face. On getting into the room I at once looked for the means by
which the poison had entered the system. As you saw, I discovered a thorn which had been
driven or shot with no great force into the scalp. You observe that the part struck was
that which would be turned towards the hole in the ceiling if the man were erect in his
chair. Now examine this thorn.
I took it up gingerly and held it in the light of the lantern.
It was long, sharp, and black, with a glazed look near the point as though some gummy
substance had dried upon it. The blunt end had been trimmed and rounded off with a knife.
Is that an English thorn? he asked.
No, it certainly is not.
With all these data you should be able to draw some just
inference. But here are the regulars, so the auxiliary forces may beat a retreat.
As he spoke, the steps which had been coming nearer sounded
loudly on the passage, and a very stout, portly man in a gray suit strode heavily into the
room. He was red-faced, burly, and plethoric, with a pair of very small twinkling eyes
which looked keenly out from between swollen and puffy pouches. He was closely followed by
an inspector in uniform and by the still palpitating Thaddeus Sholto.
Heres a business! he cried in a muffled,
husky voice. Heres a pretty business! But who are all these? Why, the house
seems to be as full as a rabbit-warren!
I think you must recollect me, Mr. Athelney Jones,
said Holmes quietly.
Why, of course I do! he wheezed. Its
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the theorist. Remember you! Ill never forget how you lectured
us all on causes and inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case. Its true
you set us on the right track; but youll own now that it was more by good luck than
It was a piece of very simple reasoning.
Oh, come, now, come! Never be ashamed to own up. But
what is all this? Bad business! Bad business! Stern facts hereno room for theories.
How lucky that I happened to be out at Norwood over another case! I was at the station
when the message arrived. What dyou think the man died of?
Oh, this is hardly a case for me to theorize over,
said Holmes dryly.
No, no. Still, we cant deny that you hit the nail
on the head sometimes. Dear me! Door locked, I understand. Jewels worth half a million
missing. How was the window?
Fastened; but there are steps on the sill.
Well, well, if it was fastened the steps could have
nothing to do with the matter. Thats common sense. Man might have died in a fit; but
then the jewels are missing. Ha! I have a theory. These flashes come upon me at
times. Just step outside, Sergeant, and you, Mr. Sholto. Your friend can
remain. What do you think of this, Holmes? Sholto was, on his own confession, with
his brother last night. The brother died in a fit, on which Sholto walked off with the
treasure? Hows that?
On which the dead man very considerately got up and
locked the door on the inside.
Hum! Theres a flaw there. Let us apply common
sense to the matter. This Thaddeus Sholto was with his brother; there was a
quarrel: so much we know.  The
brother is dead and the jewels are gone. So much also we know. No one saw the brother from
the time Thaddeus left him. His bed had not been slept in. Thaddeus is evidently in a most
disturbed state of mind. His appearance is well, not attractive. You see that I am
weaving my web round Thaddeus. The net begins to close upon him.
You are not quite in possession of the facts yet,
said Holmes. This splinter of wood, which I have every reason to believe to be
poisoned, was in the mans scalp where you still see the mark; this card, inscribed
as you see it, was on the table, and beside it lay this rather curious stone-headed
instrument. How does all that fit into your theory?
Confirms it in every respect, said the fat
detective pompously. House is full of Indian curiosities. Thaddeus brought this up,
and if this splinter be poisonous Thaddeus may as well have made murderous use of it as
any other man. The card is some hocus-pocusa blind, as like as not. The only
question is, how did he depart? Ah, of course, here is a hole in the roof.
With great activity, considering his bulk, he sprang up the
steps and squeezed through into the garret, and immediately afterwards we heard his
exulting voice proclaiming that he had found the trapdoor.
He can find something, remarked Holmes, shrugging
his shoulders; he has occasional glimmerings of reason. Il ny a pas des
sots si incommodes que ceux qui ont de lesprit!
You see! said Athelney Jones, reappearing down the
steps again; facts are better than theories, after all. My view of the case is
confirmed. There is a trapdoor communicating with the roof, and it is partly open.
It was I who opened it.
Oh, indeed! You did notice it, then? He seemed a
little crestfallen at the discovery. Well, whoever noticed it, it shows how our
gentleman got away. Inspector!
Yes, sir, from the passage.
Ask Mr. Sholto to step this way.Mr. Sholto, it is
my duty to inform you that anything which you may say will be used against you. I arrest
you in the Queens name as being concerned in the death of your brother.
There, now! Didnt I tell you! cried the
poor little man, throwing out his hands and looking from one to the other of us.
Dont trouble yourself about it, Mr. Sholto,
said Holmes; I think that I can engage to clear you of the charge.
Dont promise too much, Mr. Theorist, dont
promise too much! snapped the detective. You may find it a harder matter than
Not only will I clear him, Mr. Jones, but I will make
you a free present of the name and description of one of the two people who were in this
room last night. His name, I have every reason to believe, is Jonathan Small. He is a
poorly educated man, small, active, with his right leg off, and wearing a wooden stump
which is worn away upon the inner side. His left boot has a coarse, square-toed sole, with
an iron band round the heel. He is a middle-aged man, much sunburned, and has been a
convict. These few indications may be of some assistance to you, coupled with the fact
that there is a good deal of skin missing from the palm of his hand. The other man
Ah! the other man? asked Athelney Jones in a
sneering voice, but impressed none the less, as I could easily see, by the precision of
the others manner.
Is a rather curious person, said Sherlock Holmes, turning upon his heel.
I hope before very long to be able to introduce you to the pair of them. A word with
He led me out to the head of the stair.
This unexpected occurrence, he said, has
caused us rather to lose sight of the original purpose of our journey.
I have just been thinking so, I answered; it
is not right that Miss Morstan should remain in this stricken house.
No. You must escort her home. She lives with Mrs. Cecil
Forrester in Lower Camberwell, so it is not very far. I will wait for you here if you will
drive out again. Or perhaps you are too tired?
By no means. I dont think I could rest until I
know more of this fantastic business. I have seen something of the rough side of life, but
I give you my word that this quick succession of strange surprises to-night has shaken my
nerve completely. I should like, however, to see the matter through with you, now that I
have got so far.
Your presence will be of great service to me, he
answered. We shall work the case out independently and leave this fellow Jones to
exult over any mares-nest which he may choose to construct. When you have dropped
Miss Morstan, I wish you to go on to No. 3 Pinchin Lane, down near the waters edge
at Lambeth. The third house on the right-hand side is a bird-stuffers; Sherman is
the name. You will see a weasel holding a young rabbit in the window. Knock old Sherman up
and tell him, with my compliments, that I want Toby at once. You will bring Toby back in
the cab with you.
A dog, I suppose.
Yes, a queer mongrel with a most amazing power of scent.
I would rather have Tobys help than that of the whole detective force of
I shall bring him then, said I. It is one
now. I ought to be back before three if I can get a fresh horse.
And I, said Holmes, shall see what I can
learn from Mrs. Bernstone and from the Indian servant, who, Mr. Thaddeus tells me, sleeps
in the next garret. Then I shall study the great Joness methods and listen to his
not too delicate sarcasms.
Wir sind gewohnt, daß die Menschen verhöhnen
was sie nicht verstehen.
Goethe is always pithy.