It is all very clear. But why
suspect the governess?
Well, in the first place there is
some very direct evidence. A revolver with one discharged chamber and a calibre which
corresponded with the bullet was found on the floor of her wardrobe. His eyes fixed
and he repeated in broken words,
Onthefloorofherwardrobe. Then he sank into
silence, and I saw that some 
train of thought had been set moving which I should be foolish to interrupt.
Suddenly with a start he emerged into brisk life once more. Yes, Watson, it was
found. Pretty damning, eh? So the two juries thought. Then the dead woman had a note upon
her making an appointment at that very place and signed by the governess. Hows that?
Finally there is the motive. Senator Gibson is an attractive person. If his wife dies, who
more likely to succeed her than the young lady who had already by all accounts received
pressing attentions from her employer? Love, fortune, power, all depending upon one
middle-aged life. Ugly, Watsonvery ugly!
Yes, indeed, Holmes.
Nor could she prove an alibi. On
the contrary, she had to admit that she was down near Thor Bridgethat was the scene
of the tragedyabout that hour. She couldnt deny it, for some passing villager
had seen her there.
That really seems final.
And yet, Watsonand yet! This
bridgea single broad span of stone with balustraded sidescarries the drive
over the narrowest part of a long, deep, reed-girt sheet of water. Thor Mere it is called.
In the mouth of the bridge lay the dead woman. Such are the main facts. But here, if I
mistake not, is our client, considerably before his time.
Billy had opened the door, but the name
which he announced was an unexpected one. Mr. Marlow Bates was a stranger to both of us.
He was a thin, nervous wisp of a man with frightened eyes and a twitching, hesitating
manner a man whom my own professional eye would judge to be on the brink of an
absolute nervous breakdown.
You seem agitated, Mr. Bates,
said Holmes. Pray sit down. I fear I can only give you a short time, for I have an
appointment at eleven.
I know you have, our visitor
gasped, shooting out short sentences like a man who is out of breath. Mr. Gibson is
coming. Mr. Gibson is my employer. I am manager of his estate. Mr. Holmes, he is a
villainan infernal villain.
Strong language, Mr. Bates.
I have to be emphatic, Mr. Holmes,
for the time is so limited. I would not have him find me here for the world. He is almost
due now. But I was so situated that I could not come earlier. His secretary, Mr. Ferguson,
only told me this morning of his appointment with you.
And you are his manager?
I have given him notice. In a
couple of weeks I shall have shaken off his accursed slavery. A hard man, Mr. Holmes, hard
to all about him. Those public charities are a screen to cover his private iniquities. But
his wife was his chief victim. He was brutal to heryes, sir, brutal! How she came by
her death I do not know, but I am sure that he had made her life a misery to her. She was
a creature of the tropics, a Brazilian by birth, as no doubt you know.
No, it had escaped me.
Tropical by birth and tropical by
nature. A child of the sun and of passion. She had loved him as such women can love, but
when her own physical charms had fadedI am told that they once were greatthere
was nothing to hold him. We all liked her and felt for her and hated him for the way that
he treated her. But he is plausible and cunning. That is all I have to say to you.
Dont take him at his face value. There is more behind. Now Ill go. No, no,
dont detain me! He is almost due.
 With a frightened look at the clock our strange
visitor literally ran to the door and disappeared.
Well! Well! said Holmes after
an interval of silence. Mr. Gibson seems to have a nice loyal household. But the
warning is a useful one, and now we can only wait till the man himself appears.
Sharp at the hour we heard a heavy step
upon the stairs, and the famous millionaire was shown into the room. As I looked upon him
I understood not only the fears and dislike of his manager but also the execrations which
so many business rivals have heaped upon his head. If I were a sculptor and desired to
idealize the successful man of affairs, iron of nerve and leathery of conscience, I should
choose Mr. Neil Gibson as my model. His tall, gaunt, craggy figure had a suggestion of
hunger and rapacity. An Abraham Lincoln keyed to base uses instead of high ones would give
some idea of the man. His face might have been chiselled in granite, hard-set, craggy,
remorseless, with deep lines upon it, the scars of many a crisis. Cold gray eyes, looking
shrewdly out from under bristling brows, surveyed us each in turn. He bowed in perfunctory
fashion as Holmes mentioned my name, and then with a masterful air of possession he drew a
chair up to my companion and seated himself with his bony knees almost touching him.
Let me say right here, Mr.
Holmes, he began, that money is nothing to me in this case. You can burn it if
its any use in lighting you to the truth. This woman is innocent and this woman has
to be cleared, and its up to you to do it. Name your figure!
My professional charges are upon a
fixed scale, said Holmes coldly. I do not vary them, save when I remit them
Well, if dollars make no difference
to you, think of the reputation. If you pull this off every paper in England and America
will be booming you. Youll be the talk of two continents.
Thank you, Mr. Gibson, I do not
think that I am in need of booming. It may surprise you to know that I prefer to work
anonymously, and that it is the problem itself which attracts me. But we are wasting time.
Let us get down to the facts.
I think that you will find all the
main ones in the press reports. I dont know that I can add anything which will help
you. But if there is anything you would wish more light uponwell, I am here to give
Well, there is just one
What is it?
What were the exact relations
between you and Miss Dunbar?
The Gold King gave a violent start and
half rose from his chair. Then his massive calm came back to him.
I suppose you are within your
rightsand maybe doing your dutyin asking such a question, Mr. Holmes.
We will agree to suppose so,
Then I can assure you that our
relations were entirely and always those of an employer towards a young lady whom he never
conversed with, or ever saw, save when she was in the company of his children.
Holmes rose from his chair.
I am a rather busy man, Mr.
Gibson, said he, and I have no time or taste for aimless conversations. I wish
Our visitor had risen also, and his great
loose figure towered above Holmes. 
There was an angry gleam from under those bristling brows and a tinge of colour in
the sallow cheeks.
What the devil do you mean by this,
Mr. Holmes? Do you dismiss my case?
Well, Mr. Gibson, at least I
dismiss you. I should have thought my words were plain.
Plain enough, but whats at
the back of it? Raising the price on me, or afraid to tackle it, or what? Ive a
right to a plain answer.
Well, perhaps you have, said
Holmes. Ill give you one. This case is quite sufficiently complicated to start
with without the further difficulty of false information.
Meaning that I lie.
Well, I was trying to express it as
delicately as I could, but if you insist upon the word I will not contradict you.
I sprang to my feet, for the expression
upon the millionaires face was fiendish in its intensity, and he had raised his
great knotted fist. Holmes smiled languidly and reached his hand out for his pipe.
Dont be noisy, Mr. Gibson.
I find that after breakfast even the smallest argument is unsettling. I suggest that a
stroll in the morning air and a little quiet thought will be greatly to your
With an effort the Gold King mastered his
fury. I could not but admire him, for by a supreme self-command he had turned in a minute
from a hot flame of anger to a frigid and contemptuous indifference.
Well, its your choice. I
guess you know how to run your own business. I cant make you touch the case against
your will. Youve done yourself no good this morning, Mr. Holmes, for I have broken
stronger men than you. No man ever crossed me and was the better for it.
So many have said so, and yet here
I am, said Holmes, smiling. Well, good-morning, Mr. Gibson. You have a good
deal yet to learn.
Our visitor made a noisy exit, but Holmes
smoked in imperturbable silence with dreamy eyes fixed upon the ceiling.
Any views, Watson? he asked
Well, Holmes, I must confess that
when I consider that this is a man who would certainly brush any obstacle from his path,
and when I remember that his wife may have been an obstacle and an object of dislike, as
that man Bates plainly told us, it seems to me
Exactly. And to me also.
But what were his relations with
the governess, and how did you discover them?
Bluff, Watson, bluff! When I
considered the passionate, unconventional, unbusinesslike tone of his letter and
contrasted it with his self-contained manner and appearance, it was pretty clear that
there was some deep emotion which centred upon the accused woman rather than upon the
victim. Weve got to understand the exact relations of those three people if we are
to reach the truth. You saw the frontal attack which I made upon him, and how
imperturbably he received it. Then I bluffed him by giving him the impression that I was
absolutely certain, when in reality I was only extremely suspicious.
Perhaps he will come back?
He is sure to come back. He must
come back. He cant leave it where it is. Ha! isnt that a ring? Yes, there
is his footstep. Well, Mr. Gibson, I was just saying to Dr. Watson that you were somewhat
 The Gold King had reentered the room in a more
chastened mood than he had left it. His wounded pride still showed in his resentful eyes,
but his common sense had shown him that he must yield if he would attain his end.
Ive been thinking it over,
Mr. Holmes, and I feel that I have been hasty in taking your remarks amiss. You are
justified in getting down to the facts, whatever they may be, and I think the more of you
for it. I can assure you, however, that the relations between Miss Dunbar and me
dont really touch this case.
That is for me to decide, is it
Yes, I guess that is so.
Youre like a surgeon who wants every symptom before he can give his diagnosis.
Exactly. That expresses it. And it
is only a patient who has an object in deceiving his surgeon who would conceal the facts
of his case.
That may be so, but you will admit,
Mr. Holmes, that most men would shy off a bit when they are asked point-blank what their
relations with a woman may beif there is really some serious feeling in the case. I
guess most men have a little private reserve of their own in some corner of their souls
where they dont welcome intruders. And you burst suddenly into it. But the object
excuses you, since it was to try and save her. Well, the stakes are down and the reserve
open, and you can explore where you will. What is it you want?
The Gold King paused for a moment as one
who marshals his thoughts. His grim, deep-lined face had become even sadder and more
I can give it to you in a very few
words, Mr. Holmes, said he at last. There are some things that are painful as
well as difficult to say, so I wont go deeper than is needful. I met my wife when I
was gold-hunting in Brazil. Maria Pinto was the daughter of a government official at
Manaos, and she was very beautiful. I was young and ardent in those days, but even now, as
I look back with colder blood and a more critical eye, I can see that she was rare and
wonderful in her beauty. It was a deep rich nature, too, passionate, whole-hearted,
tropical, ill-balanced, very different from the American women whom I had known. Well, to
make a long story short, I loved her and I married her. It was only when the romance had
passedand it lingered for years that I realized that we had
nothingabsolutely nothingin common. My love faded. If hers had faded also it
might have been easier. But you know the wonderful way of women! Do what I might, nothing
could turn her from me. If I have been harsh to her, even brutal as some have said, it has
been because I knew that if I could kill her love, or if it turned to hate, it would be
easier for both of us. But nothing changed her. She adored me in those English woods as
she had adored me twenty years ago on the banks of the Amazon. Do what I might, she was as
devoted as ever.
Then came Miss Grace Dunbar. She
answered our advertisement and became governess to our two children. Perhaps you have seen
her portrait in the papers. The whole world has proclaimed that she also is a very
beautiful woman. Now, I make no pretence to be more moral than my neighbours, and I will
admit to you that I could not live under the same roof with such a woman and in daily
contact with her without feeling a passionate regard for her. Do you blame me, Mr.
I do not blame you for feeling it.
I should blame you if you expressed it, since this young lady was in a sense under your
Well, maybe so, said the
millionaire, though for a moment the reproof had  brought the old angry gleam into his eyes.
Im not pretending to be any better than I am. I guess all my life Ive
been a man that reached out his hand for what he wanted, and I never wanted anything more
than the love and possession of that woman. I told her so.
Oh, you did, did you?
Holmes could look very formidable when he
I said to her that if I could marry
her I would, but that it was out of my power. I said that money was no object and that all
I could do to make her happy and comfortable would be done.
Very generous, I am sure,
said Holmes with a sneer.
See here, Mr. Holmes. I came to you
on a question of evidence, not on a question of morals. Im not asking for your
It is only for the young
ladys sake that I touch your case at all, said Holmes sternly. I
dont know that anything she is accused of is really worse than what you have
yourself admitted, that you have tried to ruin a defenceless girl who was under your roof.
Some of you rich men have to be taught that all the world cannot be bribed into condoning
To my surprise the Gold King took the
reproof with equanimity.
Thats how I feel myself about
it now. I thank God that my plans did not work out as I intended. She would have none of
it, and she wanted to leave the house instantly.
Why did she not?
Well, in the first place, others
were dependent upon her, and it was no light matter for her to let them all down by
sacrificing her living. When I had swornas I didthat she should never be
molested again, she consented to remain. But there was another reason. She knew the
influence she had over me, and that it was stronger than any other influence in the world.
She wanted to use it for good.
Well, she knew something of my
affairs. They are large, Mr. Holmes large beyond the belief of an ordinary man. I
can make or breakand it is usually break. It wasnt individuals only. It was
communities, cities, even nations. Business is a hard game, and the weak go to the wall. I
played the game for all it was worth. I never squealed myself, and I never cared if the
other fellow squealed. But she saw it different. I guess she was right. She believed and
said that a fortune for one man that was more than he needed should not be built on ten
thousand ruined men who were left without the means of life. That was how she saw it, and
I guess she could see past the dollars to something that was more lasting. She found that
I listened to what she said, and she believed she was serving the world by influencing my
actions. So she stayedand then this came along.
Can you throw any light upon
The Gold King paused for a minute or
more, his head sunk in his hands, lost in deep thought.
Its very black against her. I
cant deny that. And women lead an inward life and may do things beyond the judgment
of a man. At first I was so rattled and taken aback that I was ready to think she had been
led away in some extraordinary fashion that was clean against her usual nature. One
explanation came into my head. I give it to you, Mr. Holmes, for what it is worth. There
is no doubt that my wife was bitterly jealous. There is a soul-jealousy that can be as
frantic as any body-jealousy, and though my wife had no causeand I think she
understood this for
the latter, she was aware that this English girl exerted an influence upon my mind and my
acts that she herself never had. It was an influence for good, but that did not mend the
matter. She was crazy with hatred, and the heat of the Amazon was always in her blood. She
might have planned to murder Miss Dunbaror we will say to threaten her with a gun
and so frighten her into leaving us. Then there might have been a scuffle and the gun gone
off and shot the woman who held it.
That possibility had already
occurred to me, said Holmes. Indeed, it is the only obvious alternative to
But she utterly denies it.
Well, that is not finalis it?
One can understand that a woman placed in so awful a position might hurry home still in
her bewilderment holding the revolver. She might even throw it down among her clothes,
hardly knowing what she was doing, and when it was found she might try to lie her way out
by a total denial, since all explanation was impossible. What is against such a
Miss Dunbar herself.
Holmes looked at his watch. I have
no doubt we can get the necessary permits this morning and reach Winchester by the evening
train. When I have seen this young lady it is very possible that I may be of more use to
you in the matter, though I cannot promise that my conclusions will necessarily be such as
There was some delay in the official
pass, and instead of reaching Winchester that day we went down to Thor Place, the
Hampshire estate of Mr. Neil Gibson. He did not accompany us himself, but we had the
address of Sergeant Coventry, of the local police, who had first examined into the affair.
He was a tall, thin, cadaverous man, with a secretive and mysterious manner which conveyed
the idea that he knew or suspected a very great deal more than he dared say. He had a
trick, too, of suddenly sinking his voice to a whisper as if he had come upon something of
vital importance, though the information was usually commonplace enough. Behind these
tricks of manner he soon showed himself to be a decent, honest fellow who was not too
proud to admit that he was out of his depth and would welcome any help.
Anyhow, Id rather have you
than Scotland Yard, Mr. Holmes, said he. If the Yard gets called into a case,
then the local loses all credit for success and may be blamed for failure. Now, you play
straight, so Ive heard.
I need not appear in the matter at
all, said Holmes to the evident relief of our melancholy acquaintance. If I
can clear it up I dont ask to have my name mentioned.
Well, its very handsome of
you, I am sure. And your friend, Dr. Watson, can be trusted, I know. Now, Mr. Holmes, as
we walk down to the place there is one question I should like to ask you. Id breathe
it to no soul but you. He looked round as though he hardly dare utter the words.
Dont you think there might be a case against Mr. Neil Gibson himself?
I have been considering that.
Youve not seen Miss Dunbar.
She is a wonderful fine woman in every way. He may well have wished his wife out of the
road. And these Americans are readier with pistols than our folk are. It was his
pistol, you know.
Was that clearly made out?
Yes, sir. It was one of a pair that
 One of a pair? Where is the other?
Well, the gentleman has a lot of
firearms of one sort and another. We never quite matched that particular pistolbut
the box was made for two.
If it was one of a pair you should
surely be able to match it.
Well, we have them all laid out at
the house if you would care to look them over.
Later, perhaps. I think we will
walk down together and have a look at the scene of the tragedy.
This conversation had taken place in the
little front room of Sergeant Coventrys humble cottage which served as the local
police-station. A walk of half a mile or so across a wind-swept heath, all gold and bronze
with the fading ferns, brought us to a side-gate opening into the grounds of the Thor
Place estate. A path led us through the pheasant preserves, and then from a clearing we
saw the widespread, half-timbered house, half Tudor and half Georgian, upon the crest of
the hill. Beside us there was a long, reedy pool, constricted in the centre where the main
carriage drive passed over a stone bridge, but swelling into small lakes on either side.
Our guide paused at the mouth of this bridge, and he pointed to the ground.
That was where Mrs.
Gibsons body lay. I marked it by that stone.
I understand that you were there
before it was moved?
Yes, they sent for me at
Mr. Gibson himself. The moment the
alarm was given and he had rushed down with others from the house, he insisted that
nothing should be moved until the police should arrive.
That was sensible. I gathered from
the newspaper report that the shot was fired from close quarters.
Yes, sir, very close.
Near the right temple?
Just behind it, sir.
How did the body lie?
On the back, sir. No trace of a
struggle. No marks. No weapon. The short note from Miss Dunbar was clutched in her left
Clutched, you say?
Yes, sir, we could hardly open the
That is of great importance. It
excludes the idea that anyone could have placed the note there after death in order to
furnish a false clue. Dear me! The note, as I remember, was quite short:
I will be at Thor Bridge at nine oclock.
Was that not so?
Did Miss Dunbar admit writing
What was her explanation?
Her defence was reserved for the
Assizes. She would say nothing.
The problem is certainly a very
interesting one. The point of the letter is very obscure, is it not?
 Well, sir, said the guide, it
seemed, if I may be so bold as to say so, the only really clear point in the whole
Holmes shook his head.
Granting that the letter is genuine
and was really written, it was certainly received some time beforesay one hour or
two. Why, then, was this lady still clasping it in her left hand? Why should she carry it
so carefully? She did not need to refer to it in the interview. Does it not seem
Well, sir, as you put it, perhaps
I think I should like to sit
quietly for a few minutes and think it out. He seated himself upon the stone ledge
of the bridge, and I could see his quick gray eyes darting their questioning glances in
every direction. Suddenly he sprang up again and ran across to the opposite parapet,
whipped his lens from his pocket, and began to examine the stonework.
This is curious, said he.
Yes, sir, we saw the chip on the
ledge. I expect its been done by some passer-by.
The stonework was gray, but at this one
point it showed white for a space not larger than a sixpence. When examined closely one
could see that the surface was chipped as by a sharp blow.
It took some violence to do
that, said Holmes thoughtfully. With his cane he struck the ledge several times
without leaving a mark. Yes, it was a hard knock. In a curious place, too. It was
not from above but from below, for you see that it is on the lower edge of the
But it is at least fifteen feet
from the body.
Yes, it is fifteen feet from the
body. It may have nothing to do with the matter, but it is a point worth noting. I do not
think that we have anything more to learn here. There were no footsteps, you say?
The ground was iron hard, sir.
There were no traces at all.
Then we can go. We will go up to
the house first and look over these weapons of which you speak. Then we shall get on to
Winchester, for I should desire to see Miss Dunbar before we go farther.
Mr. Neil Gibson had not returned from
town, but we saw in the house the neurotic Mr. Bates who had called upon us in the
morning. He showed us with a sinister relish the formidable array of firearms of various
shapes and sizes which his employer had accumulated in the course of an adventurous life.
Mr. Gibson has his enemies, as
anyone would expect who knew him and his methods, said he. He sleeps with a
loaded revolver in the drawer beside his bed. He is a man of violence, sir, and there are
times when all of us are afraid of him. I am sure that the poor lady who has passed was
Did you ever witness physical
violence towards her?
No, I cannot say that. But I have
heard words which were nearly as bad words of cold, cutting contempt, even before
Our millionaire does not seem to
shine in private life, remarked Holmes as we made our way to the station.
Well, Watson, we have come on a good many facts, some of them new ones, and yet I
seem some way from my conclusion. In spite of the very evident dislike which Mr. Bates has
to his employer, I gather from him that when the alarm came he was undoubtedly in his
library. Dinner was over at 8:30 and all was normal up to then. It is true
that the alarm was somewhat late in the evening, but the tragedy certainly occurred about
the hour named in the note. There is no evidence at all that Mr. Gibson had been out of
doors  since his
return from town at five oclock. On the other hand, Miss Dunbar, as I understand it,
admits that she had made an appointment to meet Mrs. Gibson at the bridge. Beyond this she
would say nothing, as her lawyer had advised her to reserve her defence. We have several
very vital questions to ask that young lady, and my mind will not be easy until we have
seen her. I must confess that the case would seem to me to be very black against her if it
were not for one thing.
And what is that, Holmes?
The finding of the pistol in her
Dear me, Holmes! I cried,
that seemed to me to be the most damning incident of all.
Not so, Watson. It had struck me
even at my first perfunctory reading as very strange, and now that I am in closer touch
with the case it is my only firm ground for hope. We must look for consistency. Where
there is a want of it we must suspect deception.
I hardly follow you.
Well now, Watson, suppose for a
moment that we visualize you in the character of a woman who, in a cold, premeditated
fashion, is about to get rid of a rival. You have planned it. A note has been written. The
victim has come. You have your weapon. The crime is done. It has been workmanlike and
complete. Do you tell me that after carrying out so crafty a crime you would now ruin your
reputation as a criminal by forgetting to fling your weapon into those adjacent reed-beds
which would forever cover it, but you must needs carry it carefully home and put it in
your own wardrobe, the very first place that would be searched? Your best friends would
hardly call you a schemer, Watson, and yet I could not picture you doing anything so crude
In the excitement of the
No, no, Watson, I will not admit
that it is possible. Where a crime is coolly premeditated, then the means of covering it
are coolly premeditated also. I hope, therefore, that we are in the presence of a serious
But there is so much to
Well, we shall set about explaining
it. When once your point of view is changed, the very thing which was so damning becomes a
clue to the truth. For example, there is this revolver. Miss Dunbar disclaims all
knowledge of it. On our new theory she is speaking truth when she says so. Therefore, it
was placed in her wardrobe. Who placed it there? Someone who wished to incriminate her.
Was not that person the actual criminal? You see how we come at once upon a most fruitful
line of inquiry.
We were compelled to spend the night at
Winchester, as the formalities had not yet been completed, but next morning, in the
company of Mr. Joyce Cummings, the rising barrister who was entrusted with the defence, we
were allowed to see the young lady in her cell. I had expected from all that we had heard
to see a beautiful woman, but I can never forget the effect which Miss Dunbar produced
upon me. It was no wonder that even the masterful millionaire had found in her something
more powerful than himselfsomething which could control and guide him. One felt,
too, as one looked at the strong, clear-cut, and yet sensitive face, that even should she
be capable of some impetuous deed, none the less there was an innate nobility of character
which would make her influence always for the good. She was a brunette, tall, with a noble
figure and commanding presence, but her dark eyes had in them the appealing, helpless
expression of the hunted creature 
who feels the nets around it, but can see no way out from the toils. Now, as she
realized the presence and the help of my famous friend, there came a touch of colour in
her wan cheeks and a light of hope began to glimmer in the glance which she turned upon
Perhaps Mr. Neil Gibson has told
you something of what occurred between us? she asked in a low, agitated voice.
Yes, Holmes answered,
you need not pain yourself by entering into that part of the story. After seeing
you, I am prepared to accept Mr. Gibsons statement both as to the influence which
you had over him and as to the innocence of your relations with him. But why was the whole
situation not brought out in court?
It seemed to me incredible that
such a charge could be sustained. I thought that if we waited the whole thing must clear
itself up without our being compelled to enter into painful details of the inner life of
the family. But I understand that far from clearing it has become even more serious.
My dear young lady, cried
Holmes earnestly, I beg you to have no illusions upon the point. Mr. Cummings here
would assure you that all the cards are at present against us, and that we must do
everything that is possible if we are to win clear. It would be a cruel deception to
pretend that you are not in very great danger. Give me all the help you can, then, to get
at the truth.
I will conceal nothing.
Tell us, then, of your true
relations with Mr. Gibsons wife.
She hated me, Mr. Holmes. She hated
me with all the fervour of her tropical nature. She was a woman who would do nothing by
halves, and the measure of her love for her husband was the measure also of her hatred for
me. It is probable that she misunderstood our relations. I would not wish to wrong her,
but she loved so vividly in a physical sense that she could hardly understand the mental,
and even spiritual, tie which held her husband to me, or imagine that it was only my
desire to influence his power to good ends which kept me under his roof. I can see now
that I was wrong. Nothing could justify me in remaining where I was a cause of
unhappiness, and yet it is certain that the unhappiness would have remained even if I had
left the house.
Now, Miss Dunbar, said
Holmes, I beg you to tell us exactly what occurred that evening.
I can tell you the truth so far as
I know it, Mr. Holmes, but I am in a position to prove nothing, and there are
pointsthe most vital points which I can neither explain nor can I imagine any
If you will find the facts, perhaps
others may find the explanation.
With regard, then, to my presence
at Thor Bridge that night, I received a note from Mrs. Gibson in the morning. It lay on
the table of the schoolroom, and it may have been left there by her own hand. It implored
me to see her there after dinner, said she had something important to say to me, and asked
me to leave an answer on the sundial in the garden, as she desired no one to be in our
confidence. I saw no reason for such secrecy, but I did as she asked, accepting the
appointment. She asked me to destroy her note and I burned it in the schoolroom grate. She
was very much afraid of her husband, who treated her with a harshness for which I
frequently reproached him, and I could only imagine that she acted in this way because she
did not wish him to know of our interview.
Yet she kept your reply very
Yes. I was surprised to hear that
she had it in her hand when she died.
 Well, what happened then?
I went down as I had promised. When
I reached the bridge she was waiting for me. Never did I realize till that moment how this
poor creature hated me. She was like a mad womanindeed, I think she was a
mad woman, subtly mad with the deep power of deception which insane people may have. How
else could she have met me with unconcern every day and yet had so raging a hatred of me
in her heart? I will not say what she said. She poured her whole wild fury out in burning
and horrible words. I did not even answerI could not. It was dreadful to see her. I
put my hands to my ears and rushed away. When I left her she was standing, still shrieking
out her curses at me, in the mouth of the bridge.
Where she was afterwards
Within a few yards from the
And yet, presuming that she met her
death shortly after you left her, you heard no shot?
No, I heard nothing. But, indeed,
Mr. Holmes, I was so agitated and horrified by this terrible outbreak that I rushed to get
back to the peace of my own room, and I was incapable of noticing anything which
You say that you returned to your
room. Did you leave it again before next morning?
Yes, when the alarm came that the
poor creature had met her death I ran out with the others.
Did you see Mr. Gibson?
Yes, he had just returned from the
bridge when I saw him. He had sent for the doctor and the police.
Did he seem to you much
Mr. Gibson is a very strong,
self-contained man. I do not think that he would ever show his emotions on the surface.
But I, who knew him so well, could see that he was deeply concerned.
Then we come to the all-important
point. This pistol that was found in your room. Had you ever seen it before?
Never, I swear it.
When was it found?
Next morning, when the police made
Among your clothes?
Yes, on the floor of my wardrobe
under my dresses.
You could not guess how long it had
It had not been there the morning
How do you know?
Because I tidied out the
That is final. Then someone came
into your room and placed the pistol there in order to inculpate you.
It must have been so.
It could only have been at
meal-time, or else at the hours when I would be in the schoolroom with the children.
As you were when you got the
Yes, from that time onward for the
Thank you, Miss Dunbar. Is there
any other point which could help me in the investigation?
 I can think of none.
There was some sign of violence on
the stonework of the bridgea perfectly fresh chip just opposite the body. Could you
suggest any possible explanation of that?
Surely it must be a mere
Curious, Miss Dunbar, very curious.
Why should it appear at the very time of the tragedy, and why at the very place?
But what could have caused it? Only
great violence could have such an effect.
Holmes did not answer. His pale, eager
face had suddenly assumed that tense, far-away expression which I had learned to associate
with the supreme manifestations of his genius. So evident was the crisis in his mind that
none of us dared to speak, and we sat, barrister, prisoner, and myself, watching him in a
concentrated and absorbed silence. Suddenly he sprang from his chair, vibrating with
nervous energy and the pressing need for action.
Come, Watson, come! he
What is it, Mr. Holmes?
Never mind, my dear lady. You will
hear from me, Mr. Cummings. With the help of the god of justice I will give you a case
which will make England ring. You will get news by to-morrow, Miss Dunbar, and meanwhile
take my assurance that the clouds are lifting and that I have every hope that the light of
truth is breaking through.
It was not a long journey from Winchester
to Thor Place, but it was long to me in my impatience, while for Holmes it was evident
that it seemed endless; for, in his nervous restlessness, he could not sit still, but
paced the carriage or drummed with his long, sensitive fingers upon the cushions beside
him. Suddenly, however, as we neared our destination he seated himself opposite to me
we had a first-class carriage to ourselvesand laying a hand upon each of my
knees he looked into my eyes with the peculiarly mischievous gaze which was characteristic
of his more imp-like moods.
Watson, said he, I have
some recollection that you go armed upon these excursions of ours.
It was as well for him that I did so, for
he took little care for his own safety when his mind was once absorbed by a problem, so
that more than once my revolver had been a good friend in need. I reminded him of the
Yes, yes, I am a little
absent-minded in such matters. But have you your revolver on you?
I produced it from my hip-pocket, a
short, handy, but very serviceable little weapon. He undid the catch, shook out the
cartridges, and examined it with care.
heavy, said he.
Yes, it is a solid bit of
He mused over it for a minute.
Do you know, Watson, said he,
I believe your revolver is going to have a very intimate connection with the mystery
which we are investigating.
My dear Holmes, you are
No, Watson, I am very serious.
There is a test before us. If the test comes off, all will be clear. And the test will
depend upon the conduct of this little weapon. One cartridge out. Now we will replace the
other five and put on the safety-catch. So! That increases the weight and makes it a
I had no glimmer of what was in his mind,
nor did he enlighten me, but sat 
lost in thought until we pulled up in the little Hampshire station. We secured a
ramshackle trap, and in a quarter of an hour were at the house of our confidential friend,
A clue, Mr. Holmes? What is
It all depends upon the behaviour
of Dr. Watsons revolver, said my friend. Here it is. Now, officer, can
you give me ten yards of string?
The village shop provided a ball of stout
I think that this is all we will
need, said Holmes. Now, if you please, we will get off on what I hope is the
last stage of our journey.
The sun was setting and turning the
rolling Hampshire moor into a wonderful autumnal panorama. The sergeant, with many
critical and incredulous glances, which showed his deep doubts of the sanity of my
companion, lurched along beside us. As we approached the scene of the crime I could see
that my friend under all his habitual coolness was in truth deeply agitated.
Yes, he said in answer to my
remark, you have seen me miss my mark before, Watson. I have an instinct for such
things, and yet it has sometimes played me false. It seemed a certainty when first it
flashed across my mind in the cell at Winchester, but one drawback of an active mind is
that one can always conceive alternative explanations which would make our scent a false
one. And yetand yet Well, Watson, we can but try.
As he walked he had firmly tied one end
of the string to the handle of the revolver. We had now reached the scene of the tragedy.
With great care he marked out under the guidance of the policeman the exact spot where the
body had been stretched. He then hunted among the heather and the ferns until he found a
considerable stone. This he secured to the other end of his line of string, and he hung it
over the parapet of the bridge so that it swung clear above the water. He then stood on
the fatal spot, some distance from the edge of the bridge, with my revolver in his hand,
the string being taut between the weapon and the heavy stone on the farther side.
Now for it! he cried.
At the words he raised the pistol to his
head, and then let go his grip. In an instant it had been whisked away by the weight of
the stone, had struck with a sharp crack against the parapet, and had vanished over the
side into the water. It had hardly gone before Holmes was kneeling beside the stonework,
and a joyous cry showed that he had found what he expected.
Was there ever a more exact
demonstration? he cried. See, Watson, your revolver has solved the
problem! As he spoke he pointed to a second chip of the exact size and shape of the
first which had appeared on the under edge of the stone balustrade.
Well stay at the inn
to-night, he continued as he rose and faced the astonished sergeant. You will,
of course, get a grappling-hook and you will easily restore my friends revolver. You
will also find beside it the revolver, string and weight with which this vindictive woman
attempted to disguise her own crime and to fasten a charge of murder upon an innocent
victim. You can let Mr. Gibson know that I will see him in the morning, when steps can be
taken for Miss Dunbars vindication.
Late that evening, as we sat together
smoking our pipes in the village inn, Holmes gave me a brief review of what had passed.
I fear, Watson, said he,
that you will not improve any reputation which I  may have acquired by adding the case of the Thor
Bridge mystery to your annals. I have been sluggish in mind and wanting in that mixture of
imagination and reality which is the basis of my art. I confess that the chip in the
stonework was a sufficient clue to suggest the true solution, and that I blame myself for
not having attained it sooner.
It must be admitted that the
workings of this unhappy womans mind were deep and subtle, so that it was no very
simple matter to unravel her plot. I do not think that in our adventures we have ever come
across a stranger example of what perverted love can bring about. Whether Miss Dunbar was
her rival in a physical or in a merely mental sense seems to have been equally
unforgivable in her eyes. No doubt she blamed this innocent lady for all those harsh
dealings and unkind words with which her husband tried to repel her too demonstrative
affection. Her first resolution was to end her own life. Her second was to do it in such a
way as to involve her victim in a fate which was worse far than any sudden death could be.
We can follow the various steps
quite clearly, and they show a remarkable subtlety of mind. A note was extracted very
cleverly from Miss Dunbar which would make it appear that she had chosen the scene of the
crime. In her anxiety that it should be discovered she somewhat overdid it by holding it
in her hand to the last. This alone should have excited my suspicions earlier than it did.
Then she took one of her
husbands revolversthere was, as you saw, an arsenal in the houseand kept
it for her own use. A similar one she concealed that morning in Miss Dunbars
wardrobe after discharging one barrel, which she could easily do in the woods without
attracting attention. She then went down to the bridge where she had contrived this
exceedingly ingenious method for getting rid of her weapon. When Miss Dunbar appeared she
used her last breath in pouring out her hatred, and then, when she was out of hearing,
carried out her terrible purpose. Every link is now in its place and the chain is
complete. The papers may ask why the mere was not dragged in the first instance, but it is
easy to be wise after the event, and in any case the expanse of a reed-filled lake is no
easy matter to drag unless you have a clear perception of what you are looking for and
where. Well, Watson, we have helped a remarkable woman, and also a formidable man. Should
they in the future join their forces, as seems not unlikely, the financial world may find
that Mr. Neil Gibson has learned something in that schoolroom of sorrow where our earthly
lessons are taught.