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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

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The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter


1 We were fairly accustomed to receive weird telegrams at Baker Street, but I have a particular recollection of one which reached us on a gloomy February morning some seven or eight years ago, and gave Mr. Sherlock Holmes a puzzled quarter of an hour. 2 It was addressed to him, and ran thus:

3 Please await me. 4 Terrible misfortune. 5 Right wing three-quarter missing. 6 Indispensable to-morrow. 7 OVERTON

8 'Strand postmark, and despatched ten thirty-six,' said Holmes, reading it over and over. 9 'Mr. Overton was evidently considerably excited when he sent it, and somewhat incoherent in consequence. 10 Well, well, he will be here, I dare say, by the time I have looked through The Times, and then we shall know all about it. 11 Even the most insignificant problem would be welcome in these stagnant days.'
12 Things had indeed been very slow with us, and I had learned to dread such periods of inaction, for I knew by experience that my companion's brain was so abnormally active that it was dangerous to leave it without material upon which to work. 13 For years I had gradually weaned him from that drug mania which had threatened once to check his remarkable career. 14 Now I knew that under ordinary conditions he no longer craved for this artificial stimulus; but I was well aware that the fiend was not dead, but sleeping; and I have known that the sleep was a light one and the waking near when in periods of idleness I have seen the drawn look upon Holmes's ascetic face, and the brooding of his deep-set and inscrutable eyes. 15 Therefore I blessed this Mr. Overton, whoever he might be, since he had come with his enigmatic message to break that dangerous calm which brought more peril to my friend than all the storms of his tempestuous life.
16 As we expected, the telegram was soon followed by its sender, and the card of Mr. Cyril Overton, of Trinity College, Cambridge, announced the arrival of an enormous young man, sixteen stone of solid bone and muscle, who spanned the doorway with his broad shoulders and looked from one of us to the other with a comely face which was haggard with anxiety.
17 'Mr. Sherlock Holmes?'
18 My companion bowed.
19 'I've been down to Scotland Yard, Mr. Holmes. 20 I saw Inspector Stanley Hopkins. 21 He advised me to come to you. 22 He said the case, so far as he could see, was more in your line than in that of the regular police.'
23 'Pray sit down and tell me what is the matter.'
24 'It's awful, Mr. Holmes, simply awful! 25 I wonder my hair isn't grey. 26 Godfrey Staunton - you've heard of him, of course? 27 He's simply the hinge that the whole team turns on. 28 I'd rather spare two from the pack and have Godfrey for my three-quarter line. 29 Whether it's passing, or tackling, or dribbling, there's no one to touch him; and then, he's got the head and can hold us all together. 30 What am I to do? 31 That's what I ask you, Mr. Holmes. 32 There's Moorhouse, first reserve, but he is trained as a half, and he always edges right in on to the scrum instead of keeping out on the touch-line. 33 He's a fine place-kick, it's true, but, then, he has no judgment, and he can't sprint for nuts. 34 Why, Morton or Johnson, the Oxford fliers, could romp round him. 35 Stevenson is fast enough, but he couldn't drop from the twenty-five line, and a three-quarter who can't either punt or drop isn't worth a place for pace alone. 36 No, Mr. Holmes, we are done unless you can help me to find Godfrey Staunton.'
37 My friend had listened with amused surprise to this long speech, which was poured forth with extraordinary vigour and earnestness, every point being driven home by the slapping of a brawny hand upon the speaker's knee. 38 When our visitor was silent Holmes stretched out his hand and took down letter 'S' of his commonplace book. 39 For once he dug in vain into that mine of varied information.
40 'There is Arthur H. Staunton, the rising young forger,' said he, 'and there was Henry Staunton, whom I helped to hang, but Godfrey Staunton is a new name to me.'
41 It was our visitor's turn to look surprised.
42 'Why, Mr. Holmes, I thought you knew things,' said he. 43 'I suppose, then, if you have never heard of Godfrey Staunton you don't know Cyril Overton either?'
44 Holmes shook his head good-humouredly.
45 'Great Scott!' cried the athlete. 46 'Why, I was first reserve for England against Wales, and I've skippered the 'Varsity all this year. 47 But that's nothing. 48 I didn't think there was a soul in England who didn't know Godfrey Staunton, the crack three-quarter, Cambridge, Blackheath, and five Internationals. 49 Good Lord! 50 Mr. Holmes, where have you lived?'
51 Holmes laughed at the young giant's naïve astonishment.
52 'You live in a different world to me, Mr. Overton, a sweeter and healthier one. 53 My ramifications stretch out into many sections of society, but never, I am happy to say, into amateur sport, which is the best and soundest thing in England. 54 However, your unexpected visit this morning shows me that even in that world of fresh air and fair play there may be work for me to do; so now, my good sir, I beg you to sit down and to tell me slowly and quietly exactly what it is that has occurred, and how you desire that I should help you.'
55 Young Overton's face assumed the bothered look of the man who is more accustomed to using his muscles than his wits; but by degrees, with many repetitions and obscurities which I may omit from his narrative, he laid his strange story before us.
56 'It's this way, Mr. Holmes. 57 As I have said, I am the skipper of the Rugger team of Cambridge 'Varsity, and Godfrey Staunton is my best man. 58 To-morrow we play Oxford. 59 Yesterday we all came up and we settled at Bentley's private hotel. 60 At ten o'clock I went round and saw that all the fellows had gone to roost, for I believe in strict training and plenty of sleep to keep a team fit. 61 I had a word or two with Godfrey before he turned in. 62 He seemed to me to be pale and bothered. 63 I asked him what was the matter. 64 He said he was all right - just a touch of headache. 65 I bade him good night and left him. 66 Half an hour later the porter tells me that a rough-looking man with a beard called with a note for Godfrey. 67 He had not gone to bed, and the note was taken to his room. 68 Godfrey read it and fell back in a chair as if he had been pole-axed. 69 The porter was so scared that he was going to fetch me, but Godfrey stopped him, had a drink of water, and pulled himself together. 70 Then he went downstairs, said a few words to the man who was waiting in the hall, and the two of them went off together. 71 The last that the porter saw of them, they were almost running down the street in the direction of the Strand. 72 This morning Godfrey's room was empty, his bed had never been slept in, and his things were all just as I had seen them the night before. 73 He had gone off at a moment's notice with this stranger, and no word has come from him since. 74 I don't believe he will ever come back He was a sportsman, was Godfrey, down to his marrow, and he wouldn't have stopped his training and let in his skipper if it were not for some cause that was too strong for him. 75 No; I feel as if he were gone for good and we should never see him again.'
76 Sherlock Holmes listened with the deepest attention to this singular narrative.
77 'What did you do?' he asked.
78 'I wired to Cambridge to learn if anything had been heard of him there. 79 I have had an answer. 80 No one has seen him.'
81 'Could he have got back to Cambridge?'
82 'Yes, there is a late train - quarter-past eleven.'
83 'But, so far as you can ascertain, he did not take it?'
84 'No, he has not been seen.'
85 'What did you do next?'
86 'I wired to Lord Mount-James.'
87 'Why to the Lord Mount-James?'
88 'Godfrey is an orphan, and Lord Mount-James is his nearest relative - his uncle, I believe.'
89 'Indeed. 90 This throws new light upon the matter. 91 Lord Mount-James is one of the richest men in England.'
92 'So I've heard Godfrey say.'
93 'And your friend was closely related?'
94 Yes, he was his heir, and the old boy is nearly eighty - cram full of gout, too. 95 They say he could chalk his billiard-cue with his knuckles. 96 He never allowed Godfrey a shilling in his life, for he is an absolute miser, but it will all come to him right enough.'
97 'Have you heard from Lord Mount-James?'
98 'No.'
99 'What motive could your friend have in going to Lord Mount-James?'
100 'Well, something was worrying him the night before, and if it was to do with money it is possible that he would make for his nearest relative who had so much of it, though from all I have heard he would not have much chance of getting it. 101 Godfrey was not fond of the old man. 102 He would not go if he could help it.'
103 'Well, we can soon determine that. 104 If your friend was going to his relative Lord Mount-James, you have then to explain the visit of this rough-looking fellow at so late an hour, and the agitation that was caused by his corning.'
105 Cyril Overton pressed his hands to his head. 106 'I can make nothing of it!' said he.
107 'Well, well, I have a clear day, and I shall be happy to look into the matter,' said Holmes. 108 'I should strongly recommend you to make your preparations for your match without reference to this young gentleman. 109 It must, as you say, have been an overpowering necessity which tore him away in such a fashion, and the same necessity is likely to hold him away. 110 Let us step round together to this hotel, and see if the porter can throw any fresh light upon the matter.'
111 Sherlock Holmes was a past master in the art of putting a humble witness at his ease, and very soon, in the privacy of Godfrey Staunton's abandoned room, he had extracted all that the porter had to tell. 112 The visitor of the night before was not a gentleman, neither was he a working man. 113 He was simply what the porter described as a 'medium-looking chap'; a man of fifty, beard grizzled, pale face, quietly dressed. 114 He seemed himself to be agitated. 115 The porter had observed his hand trembling when he had held out the note. 116 Godfrey Staunton had crammed the note into his pocket. 117 Staunton had not shaken hands with the man in the hall. 118 They had exchanged a few sentences, of which the porter had only distinguished the one word 'time'. 119 Then they had hurried off in the manner described. 120 It was just half-past ten by the hall clock.
121 'Let me see,' said Holmes, seating himself on Staunton's bed. 122 'You are the day porter, are you not?'
123 'Yes, sir; I go off duty at eleven.'
124 'The night porter saw nothing, I suppose?'
125 'No, sir; one theatre party came in late. 126 No one else.'
127 'Were you on duty all day yesterday?'
128 'Yes, sir.'
129 'Did you take any message to Mr. Staunton?'
130 'Yes, sir; one telegram.'
131 'Ah! that is interesting. 132 What o'clock was this?'
133 'About six.'
134 'Where was Mr. Staunton when he received it?'
135 'Here in his room.'
136 'Were you present when he opened it?'
137 'Yes, sir; I waited to see if there was an answer!'
138 'Well, was there?'
139 'Yes, sir. 140 He wrote an answer.'
141 'Did you take it?'
142 'No; he took it himself.'
143 'But he wrote it in your presence?'
144 'Yes, sir. 145 I was standing by the door, and he with his back turned at that table. 146 When he had written it he said, "All right, porter, I will take this myself."'
147 'What did he write it with?'
148 'A pen, sir.'
149 'Was the telegraphic form one of these on the table?'
150 'Yes, sir; it was the top one.'
151 Holmes rose. 152 Taking the forms, he carried them over to the window and carefully examined that which was uppermost.
153 'It is a pity he did not write in pencil,' said he, throwing them down again with a shrug of disappointment. 154 'As you have no doubt frequently observed, Watson, the impression usually goes through - a fact which has dissolved many a happy marriage. 155 However, I can find no trace here. 156 I rejoice, however, to perceive that he wrote with a broad-pointed quill pen, and I can hardly doubt that we will find some impression upon this blotting-pad. 157 Ah, yes, surely this is the very thing!'
158 He tore off a strip of the blotting-paper and turned towards us the following hieroglyphic:

159 Cyril Overton was much excited. 160 'Hold it to the glass,' he cried.
161 'That is unnecessary,' said Holmes. 162 'The paper is thin, and the reverse will give the message. 163 Here it is.' 164 He turned it over, and we read:

165 'So that is the tail end of the telegram which Godfrey Staunton despatched within a few hours of his disappearance. 166 There are at least six words of the message which have escaped us; but what remains - "Stand by us for God's sake!" - proves that this young man saw a formidable danger which approached him, and from which someone else could protect him. 167 "Us," mark you! 168 Another person was involved. 169 Who should it be but the pale-faced, bearded man who seemed himself in so nervous a state? 170 What, then, is the connection between Godfrey Staunton and the bearded man? 171 And what is the third source from which each of them sought for help against pressing danger? 172 Our inquiry has already narrowed down to that.'
173 'We have only to find to whom that telegram is addressed,' I suggested.
174 'Exactly, my dear Watson. 175 Your reflection, though profound, had already crossed my mind. 176 But I dare say it may have come to your notice that if you walk into a post office and demand to see the counterfoil of another man's message there may be some disinclination on the part of the officials to oblige you. 177 There is so much red tape in these matters! 178 However, I have no doubt that with a little delicacy and finesse the end may be attained. 179 Meanwhile, I should like in your presence, Mr. Overton, to go through these papers which have been left upon the table.'
180 There were a number of letters, bills, and notebooks, which Holmes turned over and examined with quick, nervous fingers and darting, penetrating eyes. 181 'Nothing here,' he said at last. 182 'By the way, I suppose your friend was a healthy young fellow - nothing amiss with him?'
183 'Sound as a bell.'
184 'Have you ever known him ill?'
185 'Not a day. 186 He has been laid up with a hack, and once he slipped his knee-cap, but that was nothing.'
187 'Perhaps he was not so strong as you suppose. 188 I should think he may have had some secret trouble. 189 With your assent I will put one or two of these papers in my pocket, in case they should bear upon our future inquiry.'
190 'One moment, one moment!' cried a querulous voice, and we looked up to find a queer little old man jerking and twitching in the doorway. 191 He was dressed in rusty black, with a very broad-brimmed top-hat and a loose white necktie - the whole effect being that of a very rustic parson or of an undertaker's mute. 192 Yet, in spite of his shabby and even absurd appearance, his voice had a sharp crackle, and his manner a quick intensity which commanded attention.
193 'Who are you, sir, and by what right do you touch this gentleman's papers?' he asked.
194 'I am a private detective, and I am endeavouring to explain his disappearance.'
195 'Oh, you are, are you? 196 And who instructed you, eh?'
197 'This gentleman, Mr. Staunton's friend, was referred to me by Scotland Yard.'
198 'Who are you, sir?'
199 'I am Cyril Overton.'
200 'Then it is you who sent me a telegram. 201 My name is Lord Mount-James. 202 I came round as quickly as the Bayswater bus would bring me. 203 So you have instructed a detective?'
204 'Yes, sir.'
205 'And are you prepared to meet the cost?'
206 'I have no doubt, sir, that my friend Godfrey, when we find him, will be prepared to do that.'
207 'But if he is never found, eh? 208 Answer me that?'
209 'In that case no doubt his family-'
210 'Nothing of the sort, sir!' screamed the little man. 211 'Don't look to me for a penny - not a penny! 212 You understand that, Mr. Detective! 213 I am all the family that this young man has got, and I tell you that I am not responsible. 214 If he has any expectations it is due to the fact that I have never wasted money, and I do not propose to begin to do so now. 215 As to those papers with which you are making so free, I may tell you that in case there should be anything of any value among them you will be held strictly to account for what you do with them.'
216 'Very good, sir,' said Sherlock Holmes. 217 'May I ask in the meanwhile whether you have yourself any theory to account for this young man's disappearance?'
218 'No, sir, I have not. 219 He is big enough and old enough to look after himself, and if he is so foolish as to lose himself I entirely refuse to accept the responsibility of hunting for him.'
220 'I quite understand your position,' said Holmes, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. 221 'Perhaps you don't quite understand mine. 222 Godfrey Staunton appears to have been a poor man. 223 If he has been kidnapped it could not have been for anything which he himself possesses. 224 The fame of your wealth has gone abroad, Lord Mount-James, and it is entirely possible that a gang of thieves has secured your nephew in order to gain from him some information as to your house, your habits, and your treasure.'
225 The face of our unpleasant little visitor turned as white as his neckcloth.
226 'Heavens, sir, what an idea! 227 I never thought of such villainy! 228 What inhuman rogues there are in the world! 229 But Godfrey is a fine lad - a staunch lad. 230 Nothing would induce him to give his old uncle away. 231 I'll have the plate moved over to the bank this evening. 232 In the meantime spare no pains, Mr. Detective. 233 I beg you to leave no stone unturned to bring him safely back. 234 As to money, well, so far as a fiver, or even a tenner, goes, you can always look to me.'
235 Even in his chastened frame of mind the noble miser could give us no information which could help us, for he knew little of the private life of his nephew. 236 Our only clue lay in the truncated telegram, and with a copy of this in his hand Holmes set forth to find a second link for his chain. 237 We had shaken off Lord Mount-James, and Overton had gone to consult with the other members of his team over the misfortune which had befallen them. 238 There was a telegraph office at a short distance from the hotel. 239 We halted outside it.
240 'It's worth trying, Watson,' said Holmes. 241 'Of course, with a warrant we could demand to see the counterfoils, but we have not reached that stage yet. 242 I don't suppose they remember faces in so busy a place. 243 Let us venture it.'
244 'I am so sorry to trouble you,' said he in his blandest manner to the young woman behind the grating; 'there is some small mistake about a telegram I sent yesterday. 245 I have had no answer, and I very much fear that I must have omitted to put my name at the end. 246 Could you tell me if this was so?'
247 The young lady turned over a sheaf of counterfoils.
248 'What o'clock was it?' she asked.
249 'A little after six.'
250 'Whom was it to?' 251 Holmes put his finger to his lips and glanced at me.
252 'The last words in it were "for God's sake,"' he whispered confidentially; 'I am very anxious at getting no answer.'
253 The young woman separated one of the forms.
254 'This is it. 255 There is no name,' said she, smoothing it out upon the counter.
256 'Then that, of course, accounts for my getting no answer,' said Holmes. 257 'Dear me, how very stupid of me, to be sure! 258 Good morning, miss, and many thanks for having relieved my mind.' 259 He chuckled and rubbed his hands when we found ourselves in the street once more.
260 'Well?' I asked.
261 'We progress, my dear Watson, we progress. 262 I had seven different schemes for getting a glimpse of that telegram, but I could hardly hope to succeed the very first time.'
263 'And what have you gained?'
264 'A starting-point for our investigation.' 265 He hailed a cab. 266 'King's Cross Station,' said he.
267 'We have a journey, then?'
268 'Yes, I think we must run down to Cambridge together. 269 All the indications seem to point in that direction.'
270 'Tell me,' I asked as we rattled up Gray's Inn Road, 'have you any suspicion yet as to the cause of the disappearance? 271 I don't think that among all our cases I have known one where the motives were more obscure. 272 Surely you don't really imagine that he may be kidnapped in order to give information against his wealthy uncle?'
273 'I confess, my dear Watson, that that does not appeal to me as a very probable explanation. 274 It struck me, however, as being the one which was most likely to interest that exceedingly unpleasant old person.'
275 'It certainly did that. 276 But what are your alternatives?'
277 'I could mention several. 278 You must admit that it is curious and suggestive that this incident should occur on the eve of this important match, and should involve the only man whose presence seems essential to the success of the side. 279 It may, of course, be coincidence, but it is interesting. 280 Amateur sport is free from betting, but a good deal of outside betting goes on among the public, and it is possible that it might be worth someone's while to get at a player as the ruffians of the Turf get at a race-horse. 281 There is one explanation. 282 A second very obvious one is that this young man really is the heir of a great property, however modest his means may be at present, and it is not impossible that a plot to hold him for ransom might be concocted.'
283 'These theories take no account of the telegram.'
284 'Quite true, Watson. 285 The telegram still remains the only solid thing with which we have to deal, and we must not permit our attention to wander away from it. 286 It is to gain light upon the purpose of this telegram that we are now upon our way to Cambridge. 287 The path of our investigation is at present obscure, but I shall be very much surprised if before evening we have not cleared it up or made a considerable advance along it.'
288 It was already dark when we reached the old University city. 289 Holmes took a cab at the station, and ordered the man to drive to the house of Dr. Leslie Armstrong. 290 A few minutes later we had stopped at a large mansion in the busiest thoroughfare. 291 We were shown in, and after a long wait were admitted into the consulting-room, where we found the doctor seated behind his table.
292 It argues the degree in which I had lost touch with my profession that the name of Leslie Armstrong was unknown to me. 293 Now I am aware that he is not only one of the heads of the medical school of the University, but a thinker of European reputation in more than one branch of science. 294 Yet even without knowing his brilliant record one could not fail to be impressed by a mere glance at the man - the square, massive face, the brooding eyes under the thatched brows, and the granite moulding of the inflexible jaw. 295 A man of deep character, a man with an alert mind, grim, ascetic, self-contained, formidable - so I read Dr. Leslie Armstrong. 296 He held my friend's card in his hand, and he looked up with no very pleased expression upon his dour features.
297 'I have heard your name, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and I am aware of your profession, one of which I by no means approve.'
298 'In that, doctor, you will find yourself in agreement with every criminal in the country,' said my friend quietly.
299 'So far as your efforts are directed towards the suppression of crime, sir, they must have the support of every reasonable member of the community, though I cannot doubt that the official machinery is amply sufficient for the purpose. 300 Where your calling is more open to criticism is when you pry into the secrets of private individuals, when you rake up family matters which are better hidden, and when you incidentally waste the time of men who are more busy than yourself. 301 At the present moment, for example, I should be writing a treatise instead of conversing with you!'
302 'No doubt, doctor; and yet the conversation may prove more important than the treatise. 303 Incidentally I may tell you that we are doing the reverse of what you very justly blame, and that we are endeavouring to prevent anything like public exposure of private matters which must necessarily follow when once the case is fairly in the hands of the official police. 304 You may look upon me simply as an irregular pioneer who goes in front of the regular force of the country. 305 I have come to ask you about Mr. Godfrey Staunton.'
306 'What about him!'
307 'You know him, do you not?'
308 'He is an intimate friend of mine.'
309 'You are aware that he has disappeared?'
310 'Ah, indeed!' 311 There was no change of expression in the rugged features of the doctor.
312 'He left his hotel last night. 313 He has not been heard of.'
314 'No doubt he will return.'
315 'To-morrow is the 'Varsity football match.'
316 'I have no sympathy with these childish games. 317 The young man's fate interests me deeply, since I know him and like him. 318 The football match does not come within my horizon at all.'
319 'I claim your sympathy, then, in my investigation of Mr. Staunton's fate. 320 Do you know where he is?'
321 'Certainly not.'
322 'You have not seen him since yesterday?'
323 'No, I have not.'
324 'Was Mr. Staunton a healthy man?'
325 'Absolutely.'
326 'Did you ever know him ill?'
327 'Never.' 328 Holmes popped a sheet of paper before the doctor's eyes. 329 'Then perhaps you will explain this receipted bill for thirteen guineas, paid by Mr. Godfrey Staunton last month to Dr. Leslie Armstrong, of Cambridge. 330 I picked it out from among the papers upon his desk.'
331 The doctor flushed with anger.
332 'I do not feel that there is any reason why I should render an explanation to you, Mr. Holmes.'
333 Holmes replaced the bill in his notebook.
334 'If you prefer a public explanation it must come sooner or later,' said he. 335 'I have already told you that I can hush up that which others will be bound to publish, and you would really be wiser to take me into your complete confidence.'
336 'I know nothing about it.'
337 'Did you hear from Mr. Staunton in London?'
338 'Certainly not.'
339 'Dear me, dear me! - the post office again!' 340 Holmes sighed wearily. 341 'A most urgent telegram was despatched to you from London by Godfrey Staunton at six-fifteen yesterday evening - a telegram which is undoubtedly associated with his disappearance - and yet you have not had it. 342 It is most culpable. 343 I shall certainly go down to the office here and register a complaint.'
344 Dr. Leslie Armstrong sprang up from behind his desk, and his dark face was crimson with fury.
345 'I'll trouble you to walk out of my house, sir,' said he. 346 'You can tell your employer, Lord Mount-James, that I do not wish to have anything to do either with him or with his agents. 347 No, sir, not another word!' 348 He rang the bell furiously. 349 'John, show these gentlemen out.' 350 A pompous butler ushered us severely to the door, and we found ourselves in the street. 351 Holmes burst out laughing.
352 'Dr. Leslie Armstrong is certainly a man of energy and character,' said he. 353 'I have not seen a man who, if he turned his talents that way, was more calculated to fill the gap left by the illustrious Moriarty. 354 And now, my poor Watson, here we are, stranded and friendless, in this inhospitable town, which we cannot leave without abandoning our case. 355 This little inn just opposite Armstrong's house is singularly adapted to our needs. 356 If you would engage a front room and purchase the necessaries for the night, I may have time to make a few inquiries.'
357 These few inquiries proved, however, to be a more lengthy proceeding than Holmes had imagined, for he did not return to the inn until nearly nine o'clock. 358 He was pale and dejected, stained with dust, and exhausted with hunger and fatigue. 359 A cold supper was ready upon the table, and when his needs were satisfied and his pipe alight he was ready to take that half-comic and wholly philosophic view which was natural to him when his affairs were going awry. 360 The sound of carriage wheels caused him to rise and glance out of the window. 361 A brougham and pair of greys under the glare of a gas-lamp stood before the doctor's door.
362 'It's been out three hours,' said Holmes; 'started at half-past six, and here it is back again. 363 That gives a radius of ten or twelve miles, and he does it once, or sometimes twice, a day.'
364 'No unusual thing for a doctor in practice.'
365 'But Armstrong is not really a doctor in practice. 366 He is a lecturer and a consultant, but he does not care for general practice, which distracts him from his literary work. 367 Why, then, does he make these long journeys, which must be exceedingly irksome to him, and who is it that he visits?'
368 'His coachman-'
369 'My dear Watson, can you doubt that it was to him that I first applied? 370 I do not know whether it came from his own innate depravity or from the promptings of his master, but he was rude enough to set a dog at me. 371 Neither dog nor man liked the look of my stick, however, and the matter fell through. 372 Relations were strained after that, and further inquiries out of the question. 373 All that I have learned I got from a friendly native in the yard of our own inn. 374 It was he who told me of the doctor's habits and of his daily journey. 375 At that instant, to give point to his words, the carriage came round to the door.'
376 'Could you not follow it?'
377 'Excellent, Watson! 378 You are scintillating this evening. 379 The idea did cross my mind. 380 There is, as you may have observed, a bicycle shop next to our inn. 381 Into this I rushed, engaged a bicycle, and was able to get started before the carriage was quite out of sight. 382 I rapidly overtook it, and then, keeping at a discreet distance of a hundred yards or so, I followed its lights until we were clear of the town. 383 He had got well out on the country road when a somewhat mortifying incident occurred. 384 The carriage stopped, the doctor alighted, walked swiftly back to where I had also halted, and told me in an excellent sardonic fashion that he feared the road was narrow, and that he hoped his carriage did not impede the passage of my bicycle. 385 Nothing could have been more admirable than his way of putting it. 386 I at once rode past the carriage, and, keeping to the main road, I went on for a few miles, and then halted in a convenient place to see if the carriage passed. 387 There was no sign of it, however, and so it became evident that it had turned down one of several side-roads which I had observed. 388 I rode back, but again saw nothing of the carriage, and now, as you perceive, it has returned after me. 389 Of course, I had at the outset no particular reason to connect these journeys with the disappearance of Godfrey Staunton, and was only inclined to investigate them on the general grounds that everything which concerns Dr. Armstrong is at present of interest to us; but, now that I find he keeps so keen a lookout upon anyone who may follow him on these excursions, the affair appears more important, and I shall not be satisfied until I have made the matter clear.'
390 'We can follow him to-morrow.'
391 'Can we? 392 It is not so easy as you seem to think. 393 You are not familiar with Cambridgeshire scenery, are you? 394 It does not lend itself to concealment. 395 All this country that I passed over to-night is as flat and clean as the palm of your hand, and the man we are following is no fool, as he very clearly showed to-night. 396 I have wired to Overton to let us know any fresh London developments at this address, and in the meantime we can only concentrate our attention upon Dr. Armstrong, whose name the obliging young lady at the office allowed me to read upon the counterfoil of Staunton's urgent message. 397 He knows where that young man is - to that I'll swear - and if he knows, then it must be our own fault if we cannot manage to know also. 398 At present it must be admitted that the odd trick is in his possession, and, as you are aware, Watson, it is not my habit to leave the game in that condition.'
399 And yet the next day brought us no nearer to the solution of the mystery. 400 A note was handed in after breakfast, which Holmes passed across to me with a smile.

401 SIR [it ran] - I can assure you that you are wasting your time in dogging my movements. 402 I have, as you discovered last night, a window at the back of my brougham, and if you desire a twenty-mile ride which will lead you to the spot from which you started, you have only to follow me. 403 Meanwhile, I can inform you that no spying upon me can in any way help Mr. Godfrey Staunton, and I am convinced that the best service you can do to that gentleman is to return at once to London and to report to your employer that you are unable to trace him. 404 Your time in Cambridge will certainly be wasted.
405 Yours faithfully,

407 'An outspoken, honest antagonist is the doctor,' said Holmes. 408 'Well, well, he excites my curiosity, and I must really know more before I leave him.'
409 'His carriage is at his door now,' said I. 410 'There he is stepping into it. 411 I saw him glance up at our window as he did so. 412 Suppose I try my luck upon the bicycle?'
413 'No, no, my dear Watson! 414 With all respect for your natural acumen, I do not think that you are quite a match for the worthy doctor. 415 I think that possibly I can attain our end by some independent explorations of my own. 416 I am afraid that I must leave you to your own devices, as the appearance of two inquiring strangers upon a sleepy country-side might excite more gossip than I care for. 417 No doubt you will find some sights to amuse you in this venerable city, and I hope to bring back a more favourable report to you before evening.'
418 Once more, however, my friend was destined to be disappointed. 419 He came back at night weary and unsuccessful.
420 'I have had a blank day, Watson. 421 Having got the doctor's general direction, I spent the day in visiting all the villages upon that side of Cambridge, and comparing notes with publicans and other local news agencies. 422 I have covered some ground: 423 Chesterton, Histon, Waterbeach, and Oakington have each been explored, and have each proved disappointing. 424 The daily appearance of a brougham and pair could hardly have been overlooked in such Sleepy Hollows.
425 The doctor has scored once more. 426 Is there a telegram for me?'
427 'Yes; I opened it. 428 Here it is: 429 "Ask for Pompey from Jeremy Dixon, Trinity College." 430 I don't understand it.'
431 'Oh, it is clear enough. 432 It is from our friend Overton, and is in answer to a question from me. 433 I'll just send round a note to Mr. Jeremy Dixon, and then I have no doubt that our luck will turn. 434 By the way, is there any news of the match?'
435 'Yes, the local evening paper has an excellent account in its last edition. 436 Oxford won by a goal and two tries. 437 The last sentences of the description say: 438 "The defeat of the Light Blues may be entirely attributed to the unfortunate absence of the crack International, Godfrey Staunton, whose want was felt at every instant of the game. 439 The lack of combination in the three-quarter line and their weakness both in attack and defence more than neutralized the efforts of a heavy and hard-working pack."'
440 'Then our friend Overton's forebodings have been justified,' said Holmes. 441 'Personally I am in agreement with Dr. Armstrong, and football does not come within my horizon. 442 Early to bed to-night, Watson, for I foresee that to-morrow may be an eventful day.'
443 I was horrified by my first glimpse of Holmes next morning, for he sat by the fire holding his tiny hypodermic syringe. 444 I associated that with the single weakness of his nature, and I feared the worst when I saw it glittering in his hand. 445 He laughed at my expression of dismay, and laid it upon the table. 446 'No, no, my dear fellow, there is no cause for alarm. 447 It is not upon this occasion the instrument of evil, but it will rather prove to be the key which will unlock our mystery. 448 On this syringe I base all my hopes. 449 I have just returned from a small scouting expedition, and everything is favourable. 450 Eat a good breakfast, Watson, for I propose to get upon Dr. Armstrong's trail to-day, and once on it I will not stop for rest or food until I run him to his burrow.'
451 'In that case,' said I, 'we had best carry our breakfast with us, for he is making an early start. 452 His carriage is at the door.'
453 'Never mind. 454 Let him go. 455 He will be clever if he can drive where I cannot follow him. 456 When you have finished come downstairs with me, and I will introduce you to a detective who is a very eminent specialist in the work that lies before us.' 457 When we descended I followed Holmes into the stable-yard, where he opened the door of a loose-box and led out a squat, lop-eared, white-and-tan dog, something between a beagle and a foxhound.
458 'Let me introduce you to Pompey,' said he. 459 'Pompey is the pride of the local drag-hounds, no very great flier, as his build will show, but a staunch hound on a scent. 460 Well, Pompey, you may not be fast, but I expect you will be too fast for a couple of middle-aged London gentlemen, so I will take the liberty of fastening this leather leash to your collar. 461 Now, boy, come along, and show what you can do.' 462 He led him across to the doctor's door. 463 The dog sniffed round for an instant, and then with a shrill whine of excitement started off down the street, tugging at his leash in his efforts to go faster. 464 In half an hour we were clear of the town and hastening down a country road.
465 'What have you done, Holmes?' I asked.
466 'A threadbare and venerable device, but useful upon occasion. 467 I walked into the doctor's yard this morning and shot my syringe full of aniseed over the hind wheel. 468 A drag-hound will follow aniseed from here to John o' Groats, and our friend Armstrong would have to drive through the Cam before he would shake Pompey off his trail. 469 Oh, the cunning rascal! 470 This is how he gave me the slip the other night.'
471 The dog had suddenly turned out of the main road into a grass-grown lane. 472 Half a mile farther this opened into another broad road, and the trail turned hard to the right in the direction of the town, which we had just quitted. 473 The road took a sweep to the south of the town and continued in the opposite direction to that in which we started.
474 'This detour has been entirely for our benefit, then?' said Holmes. 475 'No wonder that my inquiries among those villages led to nothing. 476 The doctor has certainly played the game for all it is worth, and one would like to know the reason for such elaborate deception. 477 This should be the village of Trumpington to the right of us. 478 And, by Jove! here is the brougham coming round the corner! 479 Quick, Watson, quick, or we are done!'
480 He sprang through a gate into a field, dragging the reluctant Pompey after him. 481 We had hardly got under the shelter of the hedge when the carriage rattled past. 482 I caught a glimpse of Dr. Armstrong within, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk on his hands, the very image of distress. 483 I could tell by my companion's graver face that he also had seen.
484 'I fear there is some dark ending to our quest,' said he. 485 'It cannot be long before we know it. 486 Come, Pompey! 487 Ah, it is the cottage in the field.'
488 There could be no doubt that we had reached the end of our journey. 489 Pompey ran about and whined eagerly outside the gate, where the marks of the brougham's wheels were still to be seen. 490 A footpath led across to the lonely cottage. 491 Holmes tied the dog to the hedge, and we hastened onwards. 492 My friend knocked at the little rustic door, and knocked again without response. 493 And yet the cottage was not deserted, for a low sound came to our ears - a kind of drone of misery and despair, which was indescribably melancholy. 494 Holmes paused irresolute, and then he glanced back at the road which we had just traversed. 495 A brougham was coming down it, and there could be no mistaking those grey horses.
496 'By Jove, the doctor is coming back!' cried Holmes. 497 'That settles it. 498 We are bound to see what it means before he comes.'
499 He opened the door, and we stepped into the hall. 500 The droning sound swelled louder upon our ears, until it became one long, deep wail of distress. 501 It came from upstairs. 502 Holmes darted up, and I followed him. 503 He pushed open a half-closed door, and we both stood appalled at the sight before us.
504 A woman, young and beautiful, was lying dead upon the bed. 505 Her calm, pale face, with dim, wide-opened blue eyes, looked upwards from amid a great tangle of golden hair. 506 At the foot of the bed, half sitting, half kneeling, his face buried in the clothes, was a young man, whose frame was racked by his sobs. 507 So absorbed was he by his bitter grief that he never looked up until Holmes's hand was on his shoulder.
508 'Are you Mr. Godfrey Staunton?'
509 'Yes, yes; I am - but you are too late. 510 She is dead.'
511 The man was so dazed that he could not be made to understand that we were anything but doctors who had been sent to his assistance. 512 Holmes was endeavouring to utter a few words of consolation, and to explain the alarm which had been caused to his friends by his sudden disappearance, when there was a step upon the stairs, and there was the heavy, stern, questioning face of Dr. Armstrong at the door.
513 'So, gentlemen,' said he, 'you have attained your end, and have certainly chosen a particularly delicate moment for your intrusion. 514 I would not brawl in the presence of death, but I can assure you that if I were a younger man your monstrous conduct would not pass with impunity.'
515 'Excuse me, Dr. Armstrong, I think we are a little at cross purposes,' said my friend with dignity. 516 'If you could step downstairs with us we may each be able to give some light to the other upon this miserable affair.'
517 A minute later the grim doctor and ourselves were in the sitting-room below.
518 'Well, sir?' said he.
519 'I wish you to understand, in the first place, that I am not employed by Lord Mount-James, and that my sympathies in this matter are entirely against that nobleman. 520 When a man is lost it is my duty to ascertain his fate, but having done so the matter ends so far as I am concerned; and so long as there is nothing criminal, I am much more anxious to hush up private scandals than to give them publicity. 521 If, as I imagine, there is no breach of the law in this matter, you can absolutely depend upon my discretion and my co-operation in keeping the facts out of the papers!'
522 Dr. Armstrong took a quick step forward and wrung Holmes by the hand.
523 'You are a good fellow,' said he. 524 'I had misjudged you. 525 I thank Heaven that my compunction at leaving poor Staunton all alone in this plight caused me to turn my carriage back, and so to make your acquaintance. 526 Knowing as much as you do, the situation is very easily explained. 527 A year ago Godfrey Staunton lodged in London for a time, and became passionately attached to his landlady's daughter, whom he married. 528 She was as good as she was beautiful, and as intelligent as she was good. 529 No man need be ashamed of such a wife. 530 But Godfrey was the heir to this crabbed old nobleman, and it was quite certain that the news of his marriage would have been the end of his inheritance. 531 I knew the lad well, and I loved him for his many excellent qualities. 532 I did all I could to help him to keep things straight. 533 We did our very best to keep the thing from everyone, for when once such a whisper gets about it is not long before everyone has heard it. 534 Thanks to this lonely cottage and his own discretion, Godfrey has up to now succeeded. 535 Their secret was known to no one save to me and to one excellent servant who has at present gone for assistance to Trumpington. 536 But at last there came a terrible blow in the shape of dangerous illness to his wife. 537 It was consumption of the most virulent kind. 538 The poor boy was half crazed with grief, and yet he had to go to London to play this match, for he could not get out of it without explanations which would expose the secret. 539 I tried to cheer him up by a wire, and he sent me one in reply imploring me to do all I could. 540 This was the telegram which you appear in some inexplicable way to have seen. 541 I did not tell him how urgent the danger was, for I knew that he could do no good here, but I sent the truth to the girl's father, and he very injudiciously communicated it to Godfrey. 542 The result was that he came straight away in a state bordering on frenzy, and has remained in the same state, kneeling at the end of her bed, until this morning death put an end to her sufferings. 543 That is all, Mr. Holmes, and I am sure that I can rely upon your discretion and that of your friend.'
544 Holmes grasped the doctor's hand.
545 'Come, Watson,' said he, and we passed from that house of grief into the pale sunlight of the winter day.

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