Why did he ever drag you into it at all? asked
our visitor with a sudden  outflame
of anger. What in thunder had you to do with it? Here was a bit of professional
business between two gentlemen, and one of them must needs call in a detective! I saw him
this morning, and he told me this fool-trick he had played me, and thats why I am
here. But I feel bad about it, all the same.
There was no reflection upon you, Mr. Garrideb. It was
simply zeal upon his part to gain your endan end which is, I understand, equally
vital for both of you. He knew that I had means of getting information, and, therefore, it
was very natural that he should apply to me.
Our visitors angry face gradually cleared.
Well, that puts it different, said he. When
I went to see him this morning and he told me he had sent to a detective, I just asked for
your address and came right away. I dont want police butting into a private matter.
But if you are content just to help us find the man, there can be no harm in that.
Well, that is just how it stands, said Holmes.
And now, sir, since you are here, we had best have a clear account from your own
lips. My friend here knows nothing of the details.
Mr. Garrideb surveyed me with not too friendly a gaze.
Need he know? he asked.
We usually work together.
Well, theres no reason it should be kept a secret.
Ill give you the facts as short as I can make them. If you came from Kansas I would
not need to explain to you who Alexander Hamilton Garrideb was. He made his money in real
estate, and afterwards in the wheat pit at Chicago, but he spent it in buying up as much
land as would make one of your counties, lying along the Arkansas River, west of Fort
Dodge. Its grazing-land and lumber-land and arable-land and mineralized-land, and
just every sort of land that brings dollars to the man that owns it.
He had no kith nor kinor, if he had, I never heard
of it. But he took a kind of pride in the queerness of his name. That was what brought us
together. I was in the law at Topeka, and one day I had a visit from the old man, and he
was tickled to death to meet another man with his own name. It was his pet fad, and he was
dead set to find out if there were any more Garridebs in the world. Find me
another! said he. I told him I was a busy man and could not spend my life hiking
round the world in search of Garridebs. None the less, said he, that is
just what you will do if things pan out as I planned them. I thought he was joking,
but there was a powerful lot of meaning in the words, as I was soon to discover.
For he died within a year of saying them, and he left a
will behind him. It was the queerest will that has ever been filed in the State of Kansas.
His property was divided into three parts, and I was to have one on condition that I found
two Garridebs who would share the remainder. Its five million dollars for each if it
is a cent, but we cant lay a finger on it until we all three stand in a row.
It was so big a chance that I just let my legal practice
slide and I set forth looking for Garridebs. There is not one in the United States. I went
through it, sir, with a fine-toothed comb and never a Garrideb could I catch. Then I tried
the old country. Sure enough there was the name in the London telephone directory. I went
after him two days ago and explained the whole matter to him. But he is a lone man, like
myself, with some women relations, but no men. It says three adult men in the will. So you
see we still have a vacancy, and if you can help to fill it we will be very ready to pay
Watson, said Holmes with a smile, I said it was rather whimsical, did I not? I
should have thought, sir, that your obvious way was to advertise in the agony columns of
I have done that, Mr. Holmes. No replies.
Dear me! Well, it is certainly a most curious little
problem. I may take a glance at it in my leisure. By the way, it is curious that you
should have come from Topeka. I used to have a correspondenthe is dead nowold
Dr. Lysander Starr, who was mayor in 1890.
Good old Dr. Starr! said our visitor. His
name is still honoured. Well, Mr. Holmes, I suppose all we can do is to report to you and
let you know how we progress. I reckon you will hear within a day or two. With this
assurance our American bowed and departed.
Holmes had lit his pipe, and he sat for some time with a
curious smile upon his face.
Well? I asked at last.
I am wondering, Watsonjust wondering!
Holmes took his pipe from his lips.
I was wondering, Watson, what on earth could be the
object of this man in telling us such a rigmarole of lies. I nearly asked him sofor
there are times when a brutal frontal attack is the best policybut I judged it
better to let him think he had fooled us. Here is a man with an English coat frayed at the
elbow and trousers bagged at the knee with a years wear, and yet by this document
and by his own account he is a provincial American lately landed in London. There have
been no advertisements in the agony columns. You know that I miss nothing there. They are
my favourite covert for putting up a bird, and I would never have overlooked such a cock
pheasant as that. I never knew a Dr. Lysander Starr, of Topeka. Touch him where you would
he was false. I think the fellow is really an American, but he has worn his accent smooth
with years of London. What is his game, then, and what motive lies behind this
preposterous search for Garridebs? Its worth our attention, for, granting that the
man is a rascal, he is certainly a complex and ingenious one. We must now find out if our
other correspondent is a fraud also. Just ring him up, Watson.
I did so, and heard a thin, quavering voice at the other end
of the line.
Yes, yes, I am Mr. Nathan Garrideb. Is Mr. Holmes there?
I should very much like to have a word with Mr. Holmes.
My friend took the instrument and I heard the usual syncopated
Yes, he has been here. I understand that you
dont know him. ... How long? ... Only two days! ... Yes, yes, of course, it is a
most captivating prospect. Will you be at home this evening? I suppose your namesake will
not be there? ... Very good, we will come then, for I would rather have a chat without
him. ... Dr. Watson will come with me. ... I understand from your note that you did not go
out often. ... Well, we shall be round about six. You need not mention it to the American
lawyer. ... Very good. Good-bye!
It was twilight of a lovely spring evening, and even Little
Ryder Street, one of the smaller offshoots from the Edgware Road, within a stone-cast of
old Tyburn Tree of evil memory, looked golden and wonderful in the slanting rays of the
setting sun. The particular house to which we were directed was a large,  old-fashioned, Early Georgian
edifice, with a flat brick face broken only by two deep bay windows on the ground floor.
It was on this ground floor that our client lived, and, indeed, the low windows proved to
be the front of the huge room in which he spent his waking hours. Holmes pointed as we
passed to the small brass plate which bore the curious name.
Up some years, Watson, he remarked, indicating its
discoloured surface. Its his real name, anyhow, and that is something to
The house had a common stair, and there were a number of names
painted in the hall, some indicating offices and some private chambers. It was not a
collection of residential flats, but rather the abode of Bohemian bachelors. Our client
opened the door for us himself and apologized by saying that the woman in charge left at
four oclock. Mr. Nathan Garrideb proved to be a very tall, loose-jointed,
round-backed person, gaunt and bald, some sixty-odd years of age. He had a cadaverous
face, with the dull dead skin of a man to whom exercise was unknown. Large round
spectacles and a small projecting goats beard combined with his stooping attitude to
give him an expression of peering curiosity. The general effect, however, was amiable,
The room was as curious as its occupant. It looked like a
small museum. It was both broad and deep, with cupboards and cabinets all round, crowded
with specimens, geological and anatomical. Cases of butterflies and moths flanked each
side of the entrance. A large table in the centre was littered with all sorts of debris,
while the tall brass tube of a powerful microscope bristled up among them. As I glanced
round I was surprised at the universality of the mans interests. Here was a case of
ancient coins. There was a cabinet of flint instruments. Behind his central table was a
large cupboard of fossil bones. Above was a line of plaster skulls with such names as
Neanderthal, Heidelberg, Cro-Magnon printed beneath
them. It was clear that he was a student of many subjects. As he stood in front of us now,
he held a piece of chamois leather in his right hand with which he was polishing a coin.
Syracusanof the best period, he explained,
holding it up. They degenerated greatly towards the end. At their best I hold them
supreme, though some prefer the Alexandrian school. You will find a chair here, Mr.
Holmes. Pray allow me to clear these bones. And you, sirah, yes, Dr. Watsonif
you would have the goodness to put the Japanese vase to one side. You see round me my
little interests in life. My doctor lectures me about never going out, but why should I go
out when I have so much to hold me here? I can assure you that the adequate cataloguing of
one of those cabinets would take me three good months.
Holmes looked round him with curiosity.
But do you tell me that you never go out?
Now and again I drive down to Sothebys or
Christies. Otherwise I very seldom leave my room. I am not too strong, and my
researches are very absorbing. But you can imagine, Mr. Holmes, what a terrific
shockpleasant but terrificit was for me when I heard of this unparalleled good
fortune. It only needs one more Garrideb to complete the matter, and surely we can find
one. I had a brother, but he is dead, and female relatives are disqualified. But there
must surely be others in the world. I had heard that you handled strange cases, and that
was why I sent to you. Of course, this American gentleman is quite right, and I should
have taken his advice first, but I acted for the best.
think you acted very wisely indeed, said Holmes. But are you really anxious to
acquire an estate in America?
Certainly not, sir. Nothing would induce me to leave my
collection. But this gentleman has assured me that he will buy me out as soon as we have
established our claim. Five million dollars was the sum named. There are a dozen specimens
in the market at the present moment which fill gaps in my collection, and which I am
unable to purchase for want of a few hundred pounds. Just think what I could do with five
million dollars. Why, I have the nucleus of a national collection. I shall be the Hans
Sloane of my age.
His eyes gleamed behind his great spectacles. It was very
clear that no pains would be spared by Mr. Nathan Garrideb in finding a namesake.
I merely called to make your acquaintance, and there is
no reason why I should interrupt your studies, said Holmes. I prefer to
establish personal touch with those with whom I do business. There are few questions I
need ask, for I have your very clear narrative in my pocket, and I filled up the blanks
when this American gentleman called. I understand that up to this week you were unaware of
That is so. He called last Tuesday.
Did he tell you of our interview to-day?
Yes, he came straight back to me. He had been very
Why should he be angry?
He seemed to think it was some reflection on his honour.
But he was quite cheerful again when he returned.
Did he suggest any course of action?
No, sir, he did not.
Has he had, or asked for, any money from you?
No, sir, never!
You see no possible object he has in view?
None, except what he states.
Did you tell him of our telephone appointment?
Yes, sir, I did.
Holmes was lost in thought. I could see that he was puzzled.
Have you any articles of great value in your
No, sir. I am not a rich man. It is a good collection,
but not a very valuable one.
You have no fear of burglars?
Not the least.
How long have you been in these rooms?
Nearly five years.
Holmess cross-examination was interrupted by an
imperative knocking at the door. No sooner had our client unlatched it than the American
lawyer burst excitedly into the room.
Here you are! he cried, waving a paper over his
head. I thought I should be in time to get you. Mr. Nathan Garrideb, my
congratulations! You are a rich man, sir. Our business is happily finished and all is
well. As to you, Mr. Holmes, we can only say we are sorry if we have given you any useless
He handed over the paper to our client, who stood staring at a
marked advertisement. Holmes and I leaned forward and read it over his shoulder. This is
how it ran:
- CONSTRUCTOR OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY
- Binders, reapers, steam and hand plows, drills, harrows, farmers carts,
buckboards, and all other appliances.
- Estimates for Artesian Wells
- Apply Grosvenor Buildings, Aston
Glorious! gasped our host. That makes our
I had opened up inquiries in Birmingham, said the
American, and my agent there has sent me this advertisement from a local paper. We
must hustle and put the thing through. I have written to this man and told him that you
will see him in his office to-morrow afternoon at four oclock.
You want me to see him?
What do you say, Mr. Holmes? Dont you think it
would be wiser? Here am I, a wandering American with a wonderful tale. Why should he
believe what I tell him? But you are a Britisher with solid references, and he is bound to
take notice of what you say. I would go with you if you wished, but I have a very busy day
to-morrow, and I could always follow you if you are in any trouble.
Well, I have not made such a journey for years.
It is nothing, Mr. Garrideb. I have figured out our
connections. You leave at twelve and should be there soon after two. Then you can be back
the same night. All you have to do is to see this man, explain the matter, and get an
affidavit of his existence. By the Lord! he added hotly, considering Ive
come all the way from the centre of America, it is surely little enough if you go a
hundred miles in order to put this matter through.
Quite so, said Holmes. I think what this
gentleman says is very true.
Mr. Nathan Garrideb shrugged his shoulders with a disconsolate
air. Well, if you insist I shall go, said he. It is certainly hard for
me to refuse you anything, considering the glory of hope that you have brought into my
Then that is agreed, said Holmes, and no
doubt you will let me have a report as soon as you can.
Ill see to that, said the American.
Well, he added, looking at his watch, Ill have to get on.
Ill call to-morrow, Mr. Nathan, and see you off to Birmingham. Coming my way, Mr.
Holmes? Well, then, good-bye, and we may have good news for you to-morrow night.
I noticed that my friends face cleared when the American
left the room, and the look of thoughtful perplexity had vanished.
I wish I could look over your collection, Mr.
Garrideb, said he. In my profession all sorts of odd knowledge comes useful,
and this room of yours is a storehouse of it.
Our client shone with pleasure and his eyes gleamed from
behind his big glasses.
I had always heard, sir, that you were a very
intelligent man, said he. I could take you round now if you have the
Unfortunately, I have not. But these specimens are so
well labelled and classified that they hardly need your personal explanation. If I should
be able to look in to-morrow, I presume that there would be no objection to my glancing
None at all. You are most welcome. The place will, of
course, be shut up, but Mrs. Saunders is in the basement up to four oclock and would
let you in with her key.
I happen to be clear to-morrow afternoon. If you would say a word to Mrs. Saunders it
would be quite in order. By the way, who is your house-agent?
Our client was amazed at the sudden question.
Holloway and Steele, in the Edgware Road. But why?
I am a bit of an archaeologist myself when it comes to
houses, said Holmes, laughing. I was wondering if this was Queen Anne or
Georgian, beyond doubt.
Really. I should have thought a little earlier. However,
it is easily ascertained. Well, good-bye, Mr. Garrideb, and may you have every success in
your Birmingham journey.
The house-agents was close by, but we found that it was
closed for the day, so we made our way back to Baker Street. It was not till after dinner
that Holmes reverted to the subject.
Our little problem draws to a close, said he.
No doubt you have outlined the solution in your own mind.
I can make neither head nor tail of it.
The head is surely clear enough and the tail we should
see to-morrow. Did you notice nothing curious about that advertisement?
I saw that the word plough was
Oh, you did notice that, did you? Come, Watson, you
improve all the time. Yes, it was bad English but good American. The printer had set it up
as received. Then the buckboards. That is American also. And artesian wells are commoner
with them than with us. It was a typical American advertisement, but purporting to be from
an English firm. What do you make of that?
I can only suppose that this American lawyer put it in
himself. What his object was I fail to understand.
Well, there are alternative explanations. Anyhow, he
wanted to get this good old fossil up to Birmingham. That is very clear. I might have told
him that he was clearly going on a wild-goose chase, but, on second thoughts, it seemed
better to clear the stage by letting him go. To-morrow, Watsonwell, to-morrow will
speak for itself.
Holmes was up and out early. When he returned at lunchtime I
noticed that his face was very grave.
This is a more serious matter than I had expected,
Watson, said he. It is fair to tell you so, though I know it will only be an
additional reason to you for running your head into danger. I should know my Watson by
now. But there is danger, and you should know it.
Well, it is not the first we have shared, Holmes. I hope
it may not be the last. What is the particular danger this time?
We are up against a very hard case. I have identified
Mr. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law. He is none other than Killer Evans, of
sinister and murderous reputation.
I fear I am none the wiser.
Ah, it is not part of your profession to carry about a
portable Newgate Calendar in your memory. I have been down to see friend Lestrade at the
Yard. There may be an occasional want of imaginative intuition down there, but they lead
the world for thoroughness and method. I had an idea that we might get on the track of our
American friend in their records. Sure enough, I found his chubby face smiling up at me
from the rogues portrait gallery. James Winter, alias Morecroft,  alias Killer Evans, was the
inscription below. Holmes drew an envelope from his pocket. I scribbled down a
few points from his dossier: Aged forty-four. Native of Chicago. Known to have shot three
men in the States. Escaped from penitentiary through political influence. Came to London
in 1893. Shot a man over cards in a night-club in the Waterloo Road in January, 1895. Man
died, but he was shown to have been the aggressor in the row. Dead man was identified as
Rodger Prescott, famous as forger and coiner in Chicago. Killer Evans released in 1901.
Has been under police supervision since, but so far as known has led an honest life. Very
dangerous man, usually carries arms and is prepared to use them. That is our bird,
Watsona sporting bird, as you must admit.
But what is his game?
Well, it begins to define itself. I have been to the
house-agents. Our client, as he told us, has been there five years. It was unlet for
a year before then. The previous tenant was a gentleman at large named Waldron.
Waldrons appearance was well remembered at the office. He had suddenly vanished and
nothing more been heard of him. He was a tall, bearded man with very dark features. Now,
Prescott, the man whom Killer Evans had shot, was, according to Scotland Yard, a tall,
dark man with a beard. As a working hypothesis, I think we may take it that Prescott, the
American criminal, used to live in the very room which our innocent friend now devotes to
his museum. So at last we get a link, you see.
And the next link?
Well, we must go now and look for that.
He took a revolver from the drawer and handed it to me.
I have my old favourite with me. If our Wild West friend
tries to live up to his nickname, we must be ready for him. Ill give you an hour for
a siesta, Watson, and then I think it will be time for our Ryder Street adventure.
It was just four oclock when we reached the curious
apartment of Nathan Garrideb. Mrs. Saunders, the caretaker, was about to leave, but she
had no hesitation in admitting us, for the door shut with a spring lock, and Holmes
promised to see that all was safe before we left. Shortly afterwards the outer door
closed, her bonnet passed the bow window, and we knew that we were alone in the lower
floor of the house. Holmes made a rapid examination of the premises. There was one
cupboard in a dark corner which stood out a little from the wall. It was behind this that
we eventually crouched while Holmes in a whisper outlined his intentions.
He wanted to get our amiable friend out of his
roomthat is very clear, and, as the collector never went out, it took some planning
to do it. The whole of this Garrideb invention was apparently for no other end. I must
say, Watson, that there is a certain devilish ingenuity about it, even if the queer name
of the tenant did give him an opening which he could hardly have expected. He wove his
plot with remarkable cunning.
But what did he want?
Well, that is what we are here to find out. It has
nothing whatever to do with our client, so far as I can read the situation. It is
something connected with the man he murderedthe man who may have been his
confederate in crime. There is some guilty secret in the room. That is how I read it. At
first I thought our friend might have something in his collection more valuable than he
knewsomething worth the attention of a big criminal. But the fact that Rodger
Prescott of evil memory  inhabited
these rooms points to some deeper reason. Well, Watson, we can but possess our souls in
patience and see what the hour may bring.
That hour was not long in striking. We crouched closer in the
shadow as we heard the outer door open and shut. Then came the sharp, metallic snap of a
key, and the American was in the room. He closed the door softly behind him, took a sharp
glance around him to see that all was safe, threw off his overcoat, and walked up to the
central table with the brisk manner of one who knows exactly what he has to do and how to
do it. He pushed the table to one side, tore up the square of carpet on which it rested,
rolled it completely back, and then, drawing a jemmy from his inside pocket, he knelt down
and worked vigorously upon the floor. Presently we heard the sound of sliding boards, and
an instant later a square had opened in the planks. Killer Evans struck a match, lit a
stump of candle, and vanished from our view.
Clearly our moment had come. Holmes touched my wrist as a
signal, and together we stole across to the open trap-door. Gently as we moved, however,
the old floor must have creaked under our feet, for the head of our American, peering
anxiously round, emerged suddenly from the open space. His face turned upon us with a
glare of baffled rage, which gradually softened into a rather shamefaced grin as he
realized that two pistols were pointed at his head.
Well, well! said he coolly as he scrambled to
the surface. I guess you have been one too many for me, Mr. Holmes. Saw through my
game, I suppose, and played me for a sucker from the first. Well, sir, I hand it to you;
you have me beat and
In an instant he had whisked out a revolver from his breast
and had fired two shots. I felt a sudden hot sear as if a red-hot iron had been pressed to
my thigh. There was a crash as Holmess pistol came down on the mans head. I
had a vision of him sprawling upon the floor with blood running down his face while Holmes
rummaged him for weapons. Then my friends wiry arms were round me, and he was
leading me to a chair.
Youre not hurt, Watson? For Gods sake,
say that you are not hurt!
It was worth a woundit was worth many woundsto
know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes
were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I
caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but
single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
Its nothing, Holmes. Its a mere
He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.
You are right, he cried with an immense sigh of
relief. It is quite superficial. His face set like flint as he glared at our
prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. By the Lord, it is as well for you.
If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive. Now, sir, what
have you to say for yourself?
He had nothing to say for himself. He only sat and scowled. I
leaned on Holmess arm, and together we looked down into the small cellar which had
been disclosed by the secret flap. It was still illuminated by the candle which Evans had
taken down with him. Our eyes fell upon a mass of rusted machinery, great rolls of paper,
a litter of bottles, and, neatly arranged upon a small table, a number of neat little
A printing pressa counterfeiters
outfit, said Holmes.
Yes, sir, said our prisoner, staggering slowly to
his feet and then sinking into 
the chair. The greatest counterfeiter London ever saw. Thats
Prescotts machine, and those bundles on the table are two thousand of
Prescotts notes worth a hundred each and fit to pass anywhere. Help yourselves,
gentlemen. Call it a deal and let me beat it.
We dont do things like that, Mr. Evans. There is
no bolt-hole for you in this country. You shot this man Prescott, did you not?
Yes, sir, and got five years for it, though it was he
who pulled on me. Five yearswhen I should have had a medal the size of a soup plate.
No living man could tell a Prescott from a Bank of England, and if I hadnt put him
out he would have flooded London with them. I was the only one in the world who knew where
he made them. Can you wonder that I wanted to get to the place? And can you wonder that
when I found this crazy boob of a bug-hunter with the queer name squatting right on the
top of it, and never quitting his room, I had to do the best I could to shift him? Maybe I
would have been wiser if I had put him away. It would have been easy enough, but Im
a soft-hearted guy that cant begin shooting unless the other man has a gun also. But
say, Mr. Holmes, what have I done wrong, anyhow? Ive not used this plant. Ive
not hurt this old stiff. Where do you get me?
Only attempted murder, so far as I can see, said
Holmes. But thats not our job. They take that at the next stage. What we
wanted at present was just your sweet self. Please give the Yard a call, Watson. It
wont be entirely unexpected.
So those were the facts about Killer Evans and his remarkable
invention of the three Garridebs. We heard later that our poor old friend never got over
the shock of his dissipated dreams. When his castle in the air fell down, it buried him
beneath the ruins. He was last heard of at a nursing-home in Brixton. It was a glad day at
the Yard when the Prescott outfit was discovered, for, though they knew that it existed,
they had never been able, after the death of the man, to find out where it was. Evans had
indeed done great service and caused several worthy C. I. D. men to sleep the sounder, for
the counterfeiter stands in a class by himself as a public danger. They would willingly
have subscribed to that soup-plate medal of which the criminal had spoken, but an
unappreciative bench took a less favourable view, and the Killer returned to those shades
from which he had just emerged.