This matter is very delicate, Mr. Holmes, he said.
Consider the relation in which I stand to Professor Presbury both privately and
publicly. I really can hardly justify myself if I speak before any third person.
Have no fear, Mr. Bennett. Dr. Watson is the very soul
of discretion, and I can assure you that this is a matter in which I am very likely to
need an assistant.
As you like, Mr. Holmes. You will, I am sure, understand
my having some reserves in the matter.
You will appreciate it, Watson, when I tell you that
this gentleman, Mr. Trevor Bennett, is professional assistant to the great scientist,
lives under his roof, and is engaged to his only daughter. Certainly we must agree that
the professor has every claim upon his loyalty and devotion. But it may best be shown by
taking the necessary steps to clear up this strange mystery.
I hope so, Mr. Holmes. That is my one object. Does Dr.
Watson know the situation?
I have not had time to explain it.
Then perhaps I had better go over the ground again
before explaining some fresh developments.
I will do so myself, said Holmes, in order
to show that I have the events in their due order. The professor, Watson, is a man of
European reputation. His life has been academic. There has never been a breath of scandal.
He is a widower with one daughter, Edith. He is, I gather, a man of very virile and
positive, one might almost say combative, character. So the matter stood until a very few
Then the current of his life was broken. He is sixty-one
years of age, but he became engaged to the daughter of Professor Morphy, his colleague in
the chair of comparative anatomy. It was not, as I understand, the reasoned courting of an
elderly man but rather the passionate frenzy of youth, for no one could have shown himself
a more devoted lover. The lady, Alice Morphy, was a very perfect girl both in mind and
body, so that there was every excuse for the professors infatuation. None the less,
it did not meet with full approval in his own family.
thought it rather excessive, said our visitor.
Exactly. Excessive and a little violent and unnatural.
Professor Presbury was rich, however, and there was no objection upon the part of the
father. The daughter, however, had other views, and there were already several candidates
for her hand, who, if they were less eligible from a worldly point of view, were at least
more of an age. The girl seemed to like the professor in spite of his eccentricities. It
was only age which stood in the way.
About this time a little mystery suddenly clouded the
normal routine of the professors life. He did what he had never done before. He left
home and gave no indication where he was going. He was away a fortnight and returned
looking rather travel-worn. He made no allusion to where he had been, although he was
usually the frankest of men. It chanced, however, that our client here, Mr. Bennett,
received a letter from a fellow-student in Prague, who said that he was glad to have seen
Professor Presbury there, although he had not been able to talk to him. Only in this way
did his own household learn where he had been.
Now comes the point. From that time onward a curious
change came over the professor. He became furtive and sly. Those around him had always the
feeling that he was not the man that they had known, but that he was under some shadow
which had darkened his higher qualities. His intellect was not affected. His lectures were
as brilliant as ever. But always there was something new, something sinister and
unexpected. His daughter, who was devoted to him, tried again and again to resume the old
relations and to penetrate this mask which her father seemed to have put on. You, sir, as
I understand, did the samebut all was in vain. And now, Mr. Bennett, tell in your
own words the incident of the letters.
You must understand, Dr. Watson, that the professor had
no secrets from me. If I were his son or his younger brother I could not have more
completely enjoyed his confidence. As his secretary I handled every paper which came to
him, and I opened and subdivided his letters. Shortly after his return all this was
changed. He told me that certain letters might come to him from London which would be
marked by a cross under the stamp. These were to be set aside for his own eyes only. I may
say that several of these did pass through my hands, that they had the E. C. mark, and
were in an illiterate handwriting. If he answered them at all the answers did not pass
through my hands nor into the letter-basket in which our correspondence was
And the box, said Holmes.
Ah, yes, the box. The professor brought back a little
wooden box from his travels. It was the one thing which suggested a Continental tour, for
it was one of those quaint carved things which one associates with Germany. This he placed
in his instrument cupboard. One day, in looking for a canula, I took up the box. To my
surprise he was very angry, and reproved me in words which were quite savage for my
curiosity. It was the first time such a thing had happened, and I was deeply hurt. I
endeavoured to explain that it was a mere accident that I had touched the box, but all the
evening I was conscious that he looked at me harshly and that the incident was rankling in
his mind. Mr. Bennett drew a little diary book from his pocket. That was on
July 2d, said he.
You are certainly an admirable witness, said
Holmes. I may need some of these dates which you have noted.
I learned method among other things from my great
teacher. From the time that I observed abnormality in his behaviour I felt that it was my
duty to study his  case.
Thus I have it here that it was on that very day, July 2d, that Roy attacked the professor
as he came from his study into the hall. Again, on July 11th, there was a scene of the
same sort, and then I have a note of yet another upon July 20th. After that we had to
banish Roy to the stables. He was a dear, affectionate animalbut I fear I weary
Mr. Bennett spoke in a tone of reproach, for it was very clear
that Holmes was not listening. His face was rigid and his eyes gazed abstractedly at the
ceiling. With an effort he recovered himself.
Singular! Most singular! he murmured. These
details were new to me, Mr. Bennett. I think we have now fairly gone over the old ground,
have we not? But you spoke of some fresh developments.
The pleasant, open face of our visitor clouded over, shadowed
by some grim remembrance. What I speak of occurred the night before last, said
he. I was lying awake about two in the morning, when I was aware of a dull muffled
sound coming from the passage. I opened my door and peeped out. I should explain that the
professor sleeps at the end of the passage
The date being ? asked Holmes.
Our visitor was clearly annoyed at so irrelevant an
I have said, sir, that it was the night before
lastthat is, September 4th.
Holmes nodded and smiled.
Pray continue, said he.
He sleeps at the end of the passage and would have to
pass my door in order to reach the staircase. It was a really terrifying experience, Mr.
Holmes. I think that I am as strong-nerved as my neighbours, but I was shaken by what I
saw. The passage was dark save that one window halfway along it threw a patch of light. I
could see that something was coming along the passage, something dark and crouching. Then
suddenly it emerged into the light, and I saw that it was he. He was crawling, Mr.
Holmescrawling! He was not quite on his hands and knees. I should rather say on his
hands and feet, with his face sunk between his hands. Yet he seemed to move with ease. I
was so paralyzed by the sight that it was not until he had reached my door that I was able
to step forward and ask if I could assist him. His answer was extraordinary. He sprang up,
spat out some atrocious word at me, and hurried on past me, and down the staircase. I
waited about for an hour, but he did not come back. It must have been daylight before he
regained his room.
Well, Watson, what make you of that? asked
Holmes with the air of the pathologist who presents a rare specimen.
Lumbago, possibly. I have known a severe attack make a
man walk in just such a way, and nothing would be more trying to the temper.
Good, Watson! You always keep us flat-footed on the
ground. But we can hardly accept lumbago, since he was able to stand erect in a
He was never better in health, said Bennett.
In fact, he is stronger than I have known him for years. But there are the facts,
Mr. Holmes. It is not a case in which we can consult the police, and yet we are utterly at
our wits end as to what to do, and we feel in some strange way that we are drifting
towards disaster. EdithMiss Presburyfeels as I do, that we cannot wait
passively any longer.
It is certainly a very curious and suggestive case. What
do you think, Watson?
Speaking as a medical man, said I, it
appears to be a case for an alienist. The old gentlemans cerebral processes were
disturbed by the love affair. He made a journey abroad in the hope of breaking himself of
the passion. His letters and the 
box may be connected with some other private transactiona loan, perhaps, or
share certificates, which are in the box.
And the wolfhound no doubt disapproved of the financial
bargain. No, no, Watson, there is more in it than this. Now, I can only suggest
What Sherlock Holmes was about to suggest will never be known,
for at this moment the door opened and a young lady was shown into the room. As she
appeared Mr. Bennett sprang up with a cry and ran forward with his hands out to meet those
which she had herself outstretched.
Edith, dear! Nothing the matter, I hope?
I felt I must follow you. Oh, Jack, I have been so
dreadfully frightened! It is awful to be there alone.
Mr. Holmes, this is the young lady I spoke of. This is
We were gradually coming to that conclusion, were we
not, Watson? Holmes answered with a smile. I take it, Miss Presbury, that
there is some fresh development in the case, and that you thought we should know?
Our new visitor, a bright, handsome girl of a conventional
English type, smiled back at Holmes as she seated herself beside Mr. Bennett.
When I found Mr. Bennett had left his hotel I thought I
should probably find him here. Of course, he had told me that he would consult you. But,
oh, Mr. Holmes, can you do nothing for my poor father?
I have hopes, Miss Presbury, but the case is still
obscure. Perhaps what you have to say may throw some fresh light upon it.
It was last night, Mr. Holmes. He had been very strange
all day. I am sure that there are times when he has no recollection of what he does. He
lives as in a strange dream. Yesterday was such a day. It was not my father with whom I
lived. His outward shell was there, but it was not really he.
Tell me what happened.
I was awakened in the night by the dog barking most
furiously. Poor Roy, he is chained now near the stable. I may say that I always sleep with
my door locked; for, as Jackas Mr. Bennettwill tell you, we all have a feeling
of impending danger. My room is on the second floor. It happened that the blind was up in
my window, and there was bright moonlight outside. As I lay with my eyes fixed upon the
square of light, listening to the frenzied barkings of the dog, I was amazed to see my
fathers face looking in at me. Mr. Holmes, I nearly died of surprise and horror.
There it was pressed against the window-pane, and one hand seemed to be raised as if to
push up the window. If that window had opened, I think I should have gone mad. It was no
delusion, Mr. Holmes. Dont deceive yourself by thinking so. I dare say it was twenty
seconds or so that I lay paralyzed and watched the face. Then it vanished, but I could
notI could not spring out of bed and look out after it. I lay cold and shivering
till morning. At breakfast he was sharp and fierce in manner, and made no allusion to the
adventure of the night. Neither did I, but I gave an excuse for coming to townand
here I am.
Holmes looked thoroughly surprised at Miss Presburys
My dear young lady, you say that your room is on the
second floor. Is there a long ladder in the garden?
No, Mr. Holmes, that is the amazing part of it. There is
no possible way of reaching the windowand yet he was there.
The date being September 5th, said Holmes.
That certainly complicates matters.
was the young ladys turn to look surprised. This is the second time that you
have alluded to the date, Mr. Holmes, said Bennett. Is it possible that it has
any bearing upon the case?
It is possiblevery possibleand yet I have
not my full material at present.
Possibly you are thinking of the connection between
insanity and phases of the moon?
No, I assure you. It was quite a different line of
thought. Possibly you can leave your notebook with me, and I will check the dates. Now I
think, Watson, that our line of action is perfectly clear. This young lady has informed
usand I have the greatest confidence in her intuitionthat her father remembers
little or nothing which occurs upon certain dates. We will therefore call upon him as if
he had given us an appointment upon such a date. He will put it down to his own lack of
memory. Thus we will open our campaign by having a good close view of him.
That is excellent, said Mr. Bennett. I warn
you, however, that the professor is irascible and violent at times.
Holmes smiled. There are reasons why we should come at
oncevery cogent reasons if my theories hold good. To-morrow, Mr. Bennett, will
certainly see us in Camford. There is, if I remember right, an inn called the Chequers
where the port used to be above mediocrity and the linen was above reproach. I think,
Watson, that our lot for the next few days might lie in less pleasant places.
Monday morning found us on our way to the famous university
townan easy effort on the part of Holmes, who had no roots to pull up, but one which
involved frantic planning and hurrying on my part, as my practice was by this time not
inconsiderable. Holmes made no allusion to the case until after we had deposited our
suitcases at the ancient hostel of which he had spoken.
I think, Watson, that we can catch the professor just
before lunch. He lectures at eleven and should have an interval at home.
What possible excuse have we for calling?
Holmes glanced at his notebook.
There was a period of excitement upon August 26th. We
will assume that he is a little hazy as to what he does at such times. If we insist that
we are there by appointment I think he will hardly venture to contradict us. Have you the
effrontery necessary to put it through?
We can but try.
Excellent, Watson! Compound of the Busy Bee and
Excelsior. We can but trythe motto of the firm. A friendly native will surely guide
Such a one on the back of a smart hansom swept us past a row
of ancient colleges and, finally turning into a tree-lined drive, pulled up at the door of
a charming house, girt round with lawns and covered with purple wisteria. Professor
Presbury was certainly surrounded with every sign not only of comfort but of luxury. Even
as we pulled up, a grizzled head appeared at the front window, and we were aware of a pair
of keen eyes from under shaggy brows which surveyed us through large horn glasses. A
moment later we were actually in his sanctum, and the mysterious scientist, whose vagaries
had brought us from London, was standing before us. There was certainly no sign of
eccentricity either in his manner or appearance, for he was a portly, large-featured man,
grave, tall, and frock-coated, with the dignity of bearing which a lecturer needs. His
eyes were his most remarkable feature, keen, observant, and clever to the verge of
He looked at our cards. Pray sit down, gentlemen. What
can I do for you?
Holmes smiled amiably.
It was the question which I was about to put to you,
To me, sir!
Possibly there is some mistake. I heard through a second
person that Professor Presbury of Camford had need of my services.
Oh, indeed! It seemed to me that there was a
malicious sparkle in the intense gray eyes. You heard that, did you? May I ask the
name of your informant?
I am sorry, Professor, but the matter was rather
confidential. If I have made a mistake there is no harm done. I can only express my
Not at all. I should wish to go further into this
matter. It interests me. Have you any scrap of writing, any letter or telegram, to bear
out your assertion?
No, I have not.
I presume that you do not go so far as to assert that I
I would rather answer no questions, said Holmes.
No, I dare say not, said the professor with
asperity. However, that particular one can be answered very easily without your
He walked across the room to the bell. Our London friend, Mr.
Bennett, answered the call.
Come in, Mr. Bennett. These two gentlemen have come from
London under the impression that they have been summoned. You handle all my
correspondence. Have you a note of anything going to a person named Holmes?
No, sir, Bennett answered with a flush.
That is conclusive, said the professor, glaring
angrily at my companion. Now, sirhe leaned forward with his two hands
upon the tableit seems to me that your position is a very questionable
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
I can only repeat that I am sorry that we have made a
Hardly enough, Mr. Holmes! the old man cried in a
high screaming voice, with extraordinary malignancy upon his face. He got between us and
the door as he spoke, and he shook his two hands at us with furious passion. You can
hardly get out of it so easily as that. His face was convulsed, and he grinned and
gibbered at us in his senseless rage. I am convinced that we should have had to fight our
way out of the room if Mr. Bennett had not intervened.
My dear Professor, he cried, consider
your position! Consider the scandal at the university! Mr. Holmes is a well-known man. You
cannot possibly treat him with such discourtesy.
Sulkily our hostif I may call him socleared the
path to the door. We were glad to find ourselves outside the house and in the quiet of the
tree-lined drive. Holmes seemed greatly amused by the episode.
Our learned friends nerves are somewhat out of
order, said he. Perhaps our intrusion was a little crude, and yet we have
gained that personal contact which I desired. But, dear me, Watson, he is surely at our
heels. The villain still pursues us.
There were the sounds of running feet behind, but it was, to
my relief, not the formidable professor but his assistant who appeared round the curve of
the drive. He came panting up to us.
I am so sorry, Mr. Holmes. I wished to apologize.
My dear sir, there is no need. It is all in the way of
I have never seen him in a more dangerous mood. But he
grows more sinister.  You
can understand now why his daughter and I are alarmed. And yet his mind is perfectly
Too clear! said Holmes. That was my
miscalculation. It is evident that his memory is much more reliable than I had thought. By
the way, can we, before we go, see the window of Miss Presburys room?
Mr. Bennett pushed his way through some shrubs, and we had a
view of the side of the house.
It is there. The second on the left.
Dear me, it seems hardly accessible. And yet you will
observe that there is a creeper below and a water-pipe above which give some
I could not climb it myself, said Mr. Bennett.
Very likely. It would certainly be a dangerous exploit
for any normal man.
There was one other thing I wish to tell you, Mr.
Holmes. I have the address of the man in London to whom the professor writes. He seems to
have written this morning, and I got it from his blotting-paper. It is an ignoble position
for a trusted secretary, but what else can I do?
Holmes glanced at the paper and put it into his pocket.
Doraka curious name. Slavonic, I imagine. Well, it
is an important link in the chain. We return to London this afternoon, Mr. Bennett. I see
no good purpose to be served by our remaining. We cannot arrest the professor because he
has done no crime, nor can we place him under constraint, for he cannot be proved to be
mad. No action is as yet possible.
Then what on earth are we to do?
A little patience, Mr. Bennett. Things will soon
develop. Unless I am mistaken, next Tuesday may mark a crisis. Certainly we shall be in
Camford on that day. Meanwhile, the general position is undeniably unpleasant, and if Miss
Presbury can prolong her visit
That is easy.
Then let her stay till we can assure her that all danger
is past. Meanwhile, let him have his way and do not cross him. So long as he is in a good
humour all is well.
There he is! said Bennett in a startled whisper.
Looking between the branches we saw the tall, erect figure emerge from the hall door and
look around him. He stood leaning forward, his hands swinging straight before him, his
head turning from side to side. The secretary with a last wave slipped off among the
trees, and we saw him presently rejoin his employer, the two entering the house together
in what seemed to be animated and even excited conversation.
I expect the old gentleman has been putting two and two
together, said Holmes as we walked hotelward. He struck me as having a
particularly clear and logical brain from the little I saw of him. Explosive, no doubt,
but then from his point of view he has something to explode about if detectives are put on
his track and he suspects his own household of doing it. I rather fancy that friend
Bennett is in for an uncomfortable time.
Holmes stopped at a post-office and sent off a telegram on our
way. The answer reached us in the evening, and he tossed it across to me.
- Have visited the Commercial Road and seen Dorak. Suave
person, Bohemian, elderly. Keeps large general store.
Mercer is since your time, said Holmes. He is my general utility
man who looks up routine business. It was important to know something of the man with whom
our professor was so secretly corresponding. His nationality connects up with the Prague
Thank goodness that something connects with
something, said I. At present we seem to be faced by a long series of
inexplicable incidents with no bearing upon each other. For example, what possible
connection can there be between an angry wolfhound and a visit to Bohemia, or either of
them with a man crawling down a passage at night? As to your dates, that is the biggest
mystification of all.
Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands. We were, I may say, seated
in the old sitting-room of the ancient hotel, with a bottle of the famous vintage of which
Holmes had spoken on the table between us.
Well, now, let us take the dates first, said he,
his finger-tips together and his manner as if he were addressing a class. This
excellent young mans diary shows that there was trouble upon July 2d, and from then
onward it seems to have been at nine-day intervals, with, so far as I remember, only one
exception. Thus the last outbreak upon Friday was on September 3d, which also falls into
the series, as did August 26th, which preceded it. The thing is beyond coincidence.
I was forced to agree.
Let us, then, form the provisional theory that every
nine days the professor takes some strong drug which has a passing but highly poisonous
effect. His naturally violent nature is intensified by it. He learned to take this drug
while he was in Prague, and is now supplied with it by a Bohemian intermediary in London.
This all hangs together, Watson!
But the dog, the face at the window, the creeping man in
Well, well, we have made a beginning. I should not
expect any fresh developments until next Tuesday. In the meantime we can only keep in
touch with friend Bennett and enjoy the amenities of this charming town.
In the morning Mr. Bennett slipped round to bring us the
latest report. As Holmes had imagined, times had not been easy with him. Without exactly
accusing him of being responsible for our presence, the professor had been very rough and
rude in his speech, and evidently felt some strong grievance. This morning he was quite
himself again, however, and had delivered his usual brilliant lecture to a crowded class.
Apart from his queer fits, said Bennett, he has actually more energy and
vitality than I can ever remember, nor was his brain ever clearer. But its not
heits never the man whom we have known.
I dont think you have anything to fear now for a
week at least, Holmes answered. I am a busy man, and Dr. Watson has his
patients to attend to. Let us agree that we meet here at this hour next Tuesday, and I
shall be surprised if before we leave you again we are not able to explain, even if we
cannot perhaps put an end to, your troubles. Meanwhile, keep us posted in what
I saw nothing of my friend for the next few days, but on the
following Monday evening I had a short note asking me to meet him next day at the train.
From what he told me as we travelled up to Camford all was well, the peace of the
professors house had been unruffled, and his own conduct perfectly normal. This also
was the report which was given us by Mr. Bennett himself when he called upon us that
evening at our old quarters in the Chequers. He heard from his London correspondent
to-day. There was a letter and there was a small packet,  each with the cross under the stamp which warned me
not to touch them. There has been nothing else.
That may prove quite enough, said Holmes grimly.
Now, Mr. Bennett, we shall, I think, come to some conclusion to-night. If my
deductions are correct we should have an opportunity of bringing matters to a head. In
order to do so it is necessary to hold the professor under observation. I would suggest,
therefore, that you remain awake and on the lookout. Should you hear him pass your door,
do not interrupt him, but follow him as discreetly as you can. Dr. Watson and I will not
be far off. By the way, where is the key of that little box of which you spoke?
Upon his watch-chain.
I fancy our researches must lie in that direction. At
the worst the lock should not be very formidable. Have you any other able-bodied man on
There is the coachman, Macphail.
Where does he sleep?
Over the stables.
We might possibly want him. Well, we can do no more
until we see how things develop. Good-byebut I expect that we shall see you before
It was nearly midnight before we took our station among some
bushes immediately opposite the hall door of the professor. It was a fine night, but
chilly, and we were glad of our warm overcoats. There was a breeze, and clouds were
scudding across the sky, obscuring from time to time the half-moon. It would have been a
dismal vigil were it not for the expectation and excitement which carried us along, and
the assurance of my comrade that we had probably reached the end of the strange sequence
of events which had engaged our attention.
If the cycle of nine days holds good then we shall have
the professor at his worst to-night, said Holmes. The fact that these strange
symptoms began after his visit to Prague, that he is in secret correspondence with a
Bohemian dealer in London, who presumably represents someone in Prague, and that he
received a packet from him this very day, all point in one direction. What he takes and
why he takes it are still beyond our ken, but that it emanates in some way from Prague is
clear enough. He takes it under definite directions which regulate this ninth-day system,
which was the first point which attracted my attention. But his symptoms are most
remarkable. Did you observe his knuckles?
I had to confess that I did not.
Thick and horny in a way which is quite new in my
experience. Always look at the hands first, Watson. Then cuffs, trouser-knees, and boots.
Very curious knuckles which can only be explained by the mode of progression observed
by Holmes paused and suddenly clapped his hand to his forehead.
Oh, Watson, Watson, what a fool I have been! It seems incredible, and yet it must be
true. All points in one direction. How could I miss seeing the connection of ideas? Those
knuckleshow could I have passed those knuckles? And the dog! And the ivy! Its
surely time that I disappeared into that little farm of my dreams. Look out, Watson! Here
he is! We shall have the chance of seeing for ourselves.
The hall door had slowly opened, and against the lamplit
background we saw the tall figure of Professor Presbury. He was clad in his dressing-gown.
As he stood outlined in the doorway he was erect but leaning forward with dangling arms,
as when we saw him last.
Now he stepped forward into the drive, and an extraordinary
change came over him. He sank down into a crouching position and moved along upon his
hands  and feet,
skipping every now and then as if he were overflowing with energy and vitality. He moved
along the face of the house and then round the corner. As he disappeared Bennett slipped
through the hall door and softly followed him.
Come, Watson, come! cried Holmes, and we stole as
softly as we could through the bushes until we had gained a spot whence we could see the
other side of the house, which was bathed in the light of the half-moon. The professor was
clearly visible crouching at the foot of the ivy-covered wall. As we watched him he
suddenly began with incredible agility to ascend it. From branch to branch he sprang, sure
of foot and firm of grasp, climbing apparently in mere joy at his own powers, with no
definite object in view. With his dressing-gown flapping on each side of him, he looked
like some huge bat glued against the side of his own house, a great square dark patch upon
the moonlit wall. Presently he tired of this amusement, and, dropping from branch to
branch, he squatted down into the old attitude and moved towards the stables, creeping
along in the same strange way as before. The wolfhound was out now, barking furiously, and
more excited than ever when it actually caught sight of its master. It was straining on
its chain and quivering with eagerness and rage. The professor squatted down very
deliberately just out of reach of the hound and began to provoke it in every possible way.
He took handfuls of pebbles from the drive and threw them in the dogs face, prodded
him with a stick which he had picked up, flicked his hands about only a few inches from
the gaping mouth, and endeavoured in every way to increase the animals fury, which
was already beyond all control. In all our adventures I do not know that I have ever seen
a more strange sight than this impassive and still dignified figure crouching frog-like
upon the ground and goading to a wilder exhibition of passion the maddened hound, which
ramped and raged in front of him, by all manner of ingenious and calculated cruelty.
And then in a moment it happened! It was not the chain that
broke, but it was the collar that slipped, for it had been made for a thick-necked
Newfoundland. We heard the rattle of falling metal, and the next instant dog and man were
rolling on the ground together, the one roaring in rage, the other screaming in a strange
shrill falsetto of terror. It was a very narrow thing for the professors life. The
savage creature had him fairly by the throat, its fangs had bitten deep, and he was
senseless before we could reach them and drag the two apart. It might have been a
dangerous task for us, but Bennetts voice and presence brought the great wolfhound
instantly to reason. The uproar had brought the sleepy and astonished coachman from his
room above the stables. Im not surprised, said he, shaking his head.
Ive seen him at it before. I knew the dog would get him sooner or later.
The hound was secured, and together we carried the
professor up to his room, where Bennett, who had a medical degree, helped me to dress his
torn throat. The sharp teeth had passed dangerously near the carotid artery, and the
haemorrhage was serious. In half an hour the danger was past, I had given the patient an
injection of morphia, and he had sunk into deep sleep. Then, and only then, were we able
to look at each other and to take stock of the situation.
I think a first-class surgeon should see him, said
For Gods sake, no! cried Bennett. At
present the scandal is confined to our own household. It is safe with us. If it gets
beyond these walls it will never stop. Consider his position at the university, his
European reputation, the feelings of his daughter.
so, said Holmes. I think it may be quite possible to keep the matter to
ourselves, and also to prevent its recurrence now that we have a free hand. The key from
the watch-chain, Mr. Bennett. Macphail will guard the patient and let us know if there is
any change. Let us see what we can find in the professors mysterious box.
There was not much, but there was enoughan empty phial,
another nearly full, a hypodermic syringe, several letters in a crabbed, foreign hand. The
marks on the envelopes showed that they were those which had disturbed the routine of the
secretary, and each was dated from the Commercial Road and signed A. Dorak.
They were mere invoices to say that a fresh bottle was being sent to Professor Presbury,
or receipt to acknowledge money. There was one other envelope, however, in a more educated
hand and bearing the Austrian stamp with the postmark of Prague. Here we have our
material! cried Holmes as he tore out the enclosure.
- HONOURED COLLEAGUE [it ran]:
Since your esteemed visit I have thought much of your case,
and though in your circumstances there are some special reasons for the treatment, I would
none the less enjoin caution, as my results have shown that it is not without danger of a
It is possible that the serum of anthropoid would have been
better. I have, as I explained to you, used black-faced langur because a specimen was
accessible. Langur is, of course, a crawler and climber, while anthropoid walks erect and
is in all ways nearer.
I beg you to take every possible precaution that there be no
premature revelation of the process. I have one other client in England, and Dorak is my
agent for both.
Weekly reports will oblige.
- Yours with high esteem,
- H. LOWENSTEIN.
Lowenstein! The name brought back to me the memory of some
snippet from a newspaper which spoke of an obscure scientist who was striving in some
unknown way for the secret of rejuvenescence and the elixir of life. Lowenstein of Prague!
Lowenstein with the wondrous strength-giving serum, tabooed by the profession because he
refused to reveal its source. In a few words I said what I remembered. Bennett had taken a
manual of zoology from the shelves. Langur, he read,
the great black-faced monkey of the Himalayan slopes, biggest and most human of
climbing monkeys. Many details are added. Well, thanks to you, Mr. Holmes, it is
very clear that we have traced the evil to its source.
The real source, said Holmes, lies, of
course, in that untimely love affair which gave our impetuous professor the idea that he
could only gain his wish by turning himself into a younger man. When one tries to rise
above Nature one is liable to fall below it. The highest type of man may revert to the
animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny. He sat musing for a little with
the phial in his hand, looking at the clear liquid within. When I have written to
this man and told him that I hold him criminally responsible for the poisons which he
circulates, we will have no more trouble. But it may recur. Others may find a better way.
There is danger therea very real danger to humanity. Consider, Watson, that the
material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives.  The spiritual would not avoid the
call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool
may not our poor world become? Suddenly the dreamer disappeared, and Holmes, the man
of action, sprang from his chair. I think there is nothing more to be said, Mr.
Bennett. The various incidents will now fit themselves easily into the general scheme. The
dog, of course, was aware of the change far more quickly than you. His smell would insure
that. It was the monkey, not the professor, whom Roy attacked, just as it was the monkey
who teased Roy. Climbing was a joy to the creature, and it was a mere chance, I take it,
that the pastime brought him to the young ladys window. There is an early train to
town, Watson, but I think we shall just have time for a cup of tea at the Chequers before
we catch it.