Now! cried Holmes. Now!
We were all upon our feet, staggering after him with our
stiffened limbs, while he ran swiftly across the bridge and rang violently at the bell.
There was the rasping of bolts from the other side, and the amazed Ames stood in the
entrance. Holmes brushed him aside without a word and, followed by all of us, rushed into
the room which had been occupied by the man whom we had been watching.
The oil lamp on the table represented the glow which we had
seen from outside. It was now in the hand of Cecil Barker, who held it towards us as we
entered. Its light shone upon his strong, resolute, clean-shaved face and his menacing
What the devil is the meaning of all this? he
cried. What are you after, anyhow?
Holmes took a swift glance round, and then pounced upon a
sodden bundle tied together with cord which lay where it had been thrust under the writing
This is what we are after, Mr. Barkerthis bundle,
weighted with a dumb-bell, which you have just raised from the bottom of the moat.
Barker stared at Holmes with amazement in his face. How
in thunder came you to know anything about it? he asked.
Simply that I put it there.
You put it there! You!
Perhaps I should have said replaced it
there, said Holmes. You will remember, Inspector MacDonald, that I was
somewhat struck by the absence of a dumb-bell. I drew your attention to it; but with the
pressure of other events you had hardly the time to give it the consideration which would
have enabled you to draw deductions from it. When water is near and a weight is missing it
is not a very far-fetched supposition that something has been sunk in the water. The idea
was at least worth testing; so with the help of Ames, who admitted me to the room, and the
crook of Dr. Watsons umbrella, I was able last night to fish up and inspect this
It was of the first importance, however, that we should
be able to prove who placed it there. This we accomplished by the very obvious device of
announcing that the moat would be dried to-morrow, which had, of course, the effect that
whoever had hidden the bundle would most certainly withdraw it the moment that darkness
enabled him to do so. We have no less than four witnesses as to who it was who took
advantage of the opportunity, and so, Mr. Barker, I think the word lies now with
Sherlock Holmes put the sopping bundle upon the table beside
the lamp and undid the cord which bound it. From within he extracted a dumb-bell, which he
tossed down to its fellow in the corner. Next he drew forth a pair of boots.
American, as you perceive, he remarked, pointing to the toes. Then he laid
upon the table a long, deadly, sheathed knife. Finally he unravelled a bundle of clothing,
comprising a complete set of underclothes, socks, a gray tweed suit, and a short yellow
The clothes are commonplace, remarked Holmes,
save only the overcoat, which is full of suggestive touches. He held it
tenderly towards the light. Here, as you perceive, is the inner pocket prolonged
into the lining in such fashion as to give ample space for the truncated fowling piece.
The tailors tab is on the  neckNeal,
Outfitter, Vermissa, U. S. A. I have spent an instructive afternoon in the
rectors library, and have enlarged my knowledge by adding the fact that Vermissa is
a flourishing little town at the head of one of the best known coal and iron valleys in
the United States. I have some recollection, Mr. Barker, that you associated the coal
districts with Mr. Douglass first wife, and it would surely not be too far-fetched
an inference that the V. V. upon the card by the dead body might stand for Vermissa
Valley, or that this very valley which sends forth emissaries of murder may be that Valley
of Fear of which we have heard. So much is fairly clear. And now, Mr. Barker, I seem to be
standing rather in the way of your explanation.
It was a sight to see Cecil Barkers expressive face
during this exposition of the great detective. Anger, amazement, consternation, and
indecision swept over it in turn. Finally he took refuge in a somewhat acrid irony.
You know such a lot, Mr. Holmes, perhaps you had better
tell us some more, he sneered.
I have no doubt that I could tell you a great deal more,
Mr. Barker; but it would come with a better grace from you.
Oh, you think so, do you? Well, all I can say is that if
theres any secret here it is not my secret, and I am not the man to give it
Well, if you take that line, Mr. Barker, said the
inspector quietly, we must just keep you in sight until we have the warrant and can
You can do what you damn please about that, said
The proceedings seemed to have come to a definite end so far
as he was concerned; for one had only to look at that granite face to realize that no peine
forte et dure would ever force him to plead against his will. The deadlock was
broken, however, by a womans voice. Mrs. Douglas had been standing listening at the
half opened door, and now she entered the room.
You have done enough for now, Cecil, said she.
Whatever comes of it in the future, you have done enough.
Enough and more than enough, remarked Sherlock
Holmes gravely. I have every sympathy with you, madam, and I should strongly urge
you to have some confidence in the common sense of our jurisdiction and to take the police
voluntarily into your complete confidence. It may be that I am myself at fault for not
following up the hint which you conveyed to me through my friend, Dr. Watson; but, at that
time I had every reason to believe that you were directly concerned in the crime. Now I am
assured that this is not so. At the same time, there is much that is unexplained, and I
should strongly recommend that you ask Mr. Douglas to tell us his own story.
Mrs. Douglas gave a cry of astonishment at Holmess
words. The detectives and I must have echoed it, when we were aware of a man who seemed to
have emerged from the wall, who advanced now from the gloom of the corner in which he had
appeared. Mrs. Douglas turned, and in an instant her arms were round him. Barker had
seized his outstretched hand.
Its best this way, Jack, his wife
repeated; I am sure that it is best.
Indeed, yes, Mr. Douglas, said Sherlock Holmes,
I am sure that you will find it best.
The man stood blinking at us with the dazed look of one who
comes from the dark into the light. It was a remarkable face, bold gray eyes, a strong,
short-clipped, grizzled moustache, a square, projecting chin, and a humorous mouth. He  took a good look at us all, and
then to my amazement he advanced to me and handed me a bundle of paper.
Ive heard of you, said he in a voice which
was not quite English and not quite American, but was altogether mellow and pleasing.
You are the historian of this bunch. Well, Dr. Watson, youve never had such a
story as that pass through your hands before, and Ill lay my last dollar on that.
Tell it your own way; but there are the facts, and you cant miss the public so long
as you have those. Ive been cooped up two days, and Ive spent the daylight
hours as much daylight as I could get in that rat trapin putting the thing
into words. Youre welcome to themyou and your public. Theres the story
of the Valley of Fear.
Thats the past, Mr. Douglas, said Sherlock
Holmes quietly. What we desire now is to hear your story of the present.
Youll have it, sir, said Douglas. May
I smoke as I talk? Well, thank you, Mr. Holmes. Youre a smoker yourself, if I
remember right, and youll guess what it is to be sitting for two days with tobacco
in your pocket and afraid that the smell will give you away. He leaned against the
mantelpiece and sucked at the cigar which Holmes had handed him. Ive heard of
you, Mr. Holmes. I never guessed that I should meet you. But before you are through with
that, he nodded at my papers, you will say Ive brought you something
Inspector MacDonald had been staring at the newcomer with the
greatest amazement. Well, this fairly beats me! he cried at last. If you
are Mr. John Douglas of Birlstone Manor, then whose death have we been investigating for
these two days, and where in the world have you sprung from now? You seemed to me to come
out of the floor like a jack-in-a-box.
Ah, Mr. Mac, said Holmes, shaking a reproving
forefinger, you would not read that excellent local compilation which described the
concealment of King Charles. People did not hide in those days without excellent hiding
places, and the hiding place that has once been used may be again. I had persuaded myself
that we should find Mr. Douglas under this roof.
And how long have you been playing this trick upon us,
Mr. Holmes? said the inspector angrily. How long have you allowed us to waste
ourselves upon a search that you knew to be an absurd one?
Not one instant, my dear Mr. Mac. Only last night did I
form my views of the case. As they could not be put to the proof until this evening, I
invited you and your colleague to take a holiday for the day. Pray what more could I do?
When I found the suit of clothes in the moat, it at once became apparent to me that the
body we had found could not have been the body of Mr. John Douglas at all, but must be
that of the bicyclist from Tunbridge Wells. No other conclusion was possible. Therefore I
had to determine where Mr. John Douglas himself could be, and the balance of probability
was that with the connivance of his wife and his friend he was concealed in a house which
had such conveniences for a fugitive, and awaiting quieter times when he could make his
Well, you figured it out about right, said Douglas
approvingly. I thought Id dodge your British law; for I was not sure how I
stood under it, and also I saw my chance to throw these hounds once for all off my track.
Mind you, from first to last I have done nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing that I
would not do again; but youll judge that for yourselves when I tell you my story.
Never mind warning me, Inspector: Im ready to stand pat upon the truth.
Im not going to begin at the beginning.
Thats all there, he indicated my 
bundle of papers, and a mighty queer yarn youll find it. It all
comes down to this: That there are some men that have good cause to hate me and would give
their last dollar to know that they had got me. So long as I am alive and they are alive,
there is no safety in this world for me. They hunted me from Chicago to California, then
they chased me out of America; but when I married and settled down in this quiet spot I
thought my last years were going to be peaceable.
I never explained to my wife how things were. Why should
I pull her into it? She would never have a quiet moment again; but would always be
imagining trouble. I fancy she knew something, for I may have dropped a word here or a
word there; but until yesterday, after you gentlemen had seen her, she never knew the
rights of the matter. She told you all she knew, and so did Barker here; for on the night
when this thing happened there was mighty little time for explanations. She knows
everything now, and I would have been a wiser man if I had told her sooner. But it was a
hard question, dear, he took her hand for an instant in his own, and I acted
for the best.
Well, gentlemen, the day before these happenings I was
over in Tunbridge Wells, and I got a glimpse of a man in the street. It was only a
glimpse; but I have a quick eye for these things, and I never doubted who it was. It was
the worst enemy I had among them allone who has been after me like a hungry wolf
after a caribou all these years. I knew there was trouble coming, and I came home and made
ready for it. I guessed Id fight through it all right on my own, my luck was a
proverb in the States about 76. I never doubted that it would be with me still.
I was on my guard all that next day, and never went out
into the park. Its as well, or hed have had the drop on me with that buckshot
gun of his before ever I could draw on him. After the bridge was upmy mind was
always more restful when that bridge was up in the eveningsI put the thing clear out
of my head. I never dreamed of his getting into the house and waiting for me. But when I
made my round in my dressing gown, as was my habit, I had no sooner entered the study than
I scented danger. I guess when a man has had dangers in his lifeand Ive had
more than most in my timethere is a kind of sixth sense that waves the red flag. I
saw the signal clear enough, and yet I couldnt tell you why. Next instant I spotted
a boot under the window curtain, and then I saw why plain enough.
Id just the one candle that was in my hand; but
there was a good light from the hall lamp through the open door. I put down the candle and
jumped for a hammer that Id left on the mantel. At the same moment he sprang at me.
I saw the glint of a knife, and I lashed at him with the hammer. I got him somewhere; for
the knife tinkled down on the floor. He dodged round the table as quick as an eel, and a
moment later hed got his gun from under his coat. I heard him cock it; but I had got
hold of it before he could fire. I had it by the barrel, and we wrestled for it all ends
up for a minute or more. It was death to the man that lost his grip.
He never lost his grip; but he got it butt downward
for a moment too long. Maybe it was I that pulled the trigger. Maybe we just jolted it off
between us. Anyhow, he got both barrels in the face, and there I was, staring down at all
that was left of Ted Baldwin. Id recognized him in the township, and again when he
sprang for me; but his own mother wouldnt recognize him as I saw him then. Im
used to rough work; but I fairly turned sick at the sight of him.
I was hanging on the side of the table when Barker came
hurrying down. I heard my wife coming, and I ran to the door and stopped her. It was no
sight for a  woman. I
promised Id come to her soon. I said a word or two to Barker he took it all in
at a glanceand we waited for the rest to come along. But there was no sign of them.
Then we understood that they could hear nothing, and that all that had happened was known
only to ourselves.
It was at that instant that the idea came to me. I was
fairly dazzled by the brilliance of it. The mans sleeve had slipped up and there was
the branded mark of the lodge upon his forearm. See here!
The man whom we had known as Douglas turned up his own coat
and cuff to show a brown triangle within a circle exactly like that which we had seen upon
the dead man.
It was the sight of that which started me on it. I
seemed to see it all clear at a glance. There were his height and hair and figure, about
the same as my own. No one could swear to his face, poor devil! I brought down this suit
of clothes, and in a quarter of an hour Barker and I had put my dressing gown on him and
he lay as you found him. We tied all his things into a bundle, and I weighted them with
the only weight I could find and put them through the window. The card he had meant to lay
upon my body was lying beside his own.
My rings were put on his finger; but when it came to the
wedding ring, he held out his muscular hand, you can see for yourselves that I
had struck the limit. I have not moved it since the day I was married, and it would have
taken a file to get it off. I dont know, anyhow, that I should have cared to part
with it; but if I had wanted to I couldnt. So we just had to leave that detail to
take care of itself. On the other hand, I brought a bit of plaster down and put it where I
am wearing one myself at this instant. You slipped up there, Mr. Holmes, clever as you
are; for if you had chanced to take off that plaster you would have found no cut
Well, that was the situation. If I could lie low for a
while and then get away where I could be joined by my widow we should have a
chance at last of living in peace for the rest of our lives. These devils would give me no
rest so long as I was above ground; but if they saw in the papers that Baldwin had got his
man, there would be an end of all my troubles. I hadnt much time to make it all
clear to Barker and to my wife; but they understood enough to be able to help me. I knew
all about this hiding place, so did Ames; but it never entered his head to connect it with
the matter. I retired into it, and it was up to Barker to do the rest.
I guess you can fill in for yourselves what he did. He
opened the window and made the mark on the sill to give an idea of how the murderer
escaped. It was a tall order, that; but as the bridge was up there was no other way. Then,
when everything was fixed, he rang the bell for all he was worth. What happened afterward
you know. And so, gentlemen, you can do what you please; but Ive told you the truth
and the whole truth, so help me God! What I ask you now is how do I stand by the English
There was a silence which was broken by Sherlock Holmes.
The English law is in the main a just law. You will get
no worse than your deserts from that, Mr. Douglas. But I would ask you how did this man
know that you lived here, or how to get into your house, or where to hide to get
I know nothing of this.
Holmess face was very white and grave. The story
is not over yet, I fear, said he. You may find worse dangers than the English
law, or even than your  enemies
from America. I see trouble before you, Mr. Douglas. Youll take my advice and still
be on your guard.
And now, my long-suffering readers, I will ask you to come
away with me for a time, far from the Sussex Manor House of Birlstone, and far also from
the year of grace in which we made our eventful journey which ended with the strange story
of the man who had been known as John Douglas. I wish you to journey back some twenty
years in time, and westward some thousands of miles in space, that I may lay before you a
singular and terrible narrativeso singular and so terrible that you may find it hard
to believe that even as I tell it, even so did it occur.
Do not think that I intrude one story before another is
finished. As you read on you will find that this is not so. And when I have detailed those
distant events and you have solved this mystery of the past, we shall meet once more in
those rooms on Baker Street, where this, like so many other wonderful happenings, will
find its end.