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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 Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
The Creeping Man

 

1 Mr Sherlock Holmes was always of opinion that I should publish the singular facts connected with Professor Presbury, if only to dispel once for all the ugly rumours which some twenty years ago agitated the University and were echoed in the learned societies of London. 2 There were, however, certain obstacles in the way, and the true history of this curious case remained entombed in the tin box which contains so many records of my friend's adventures. 3 Now we have at last obtained permission to ventilate the facts which formed one of the very last cases handled by Holmes before his retirement from practice. 4 Even now a certain reticence and discretion have to be observed in laying the matter before the public.
5 It was one Sunday evening early in September of the year 1903 that I received one of the Holmes's laconic messages: 'Come at once if convenient - if inconvenient come all the same. 6 - SH.' 7 The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. 8 He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. 9 As an institution I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and others perhaps less excusable. 10 When it was a case of active work and a comrade was needed upon whose nerve he could place some reliance, my rôle was obvious. 11 But apart from this I had uses. 12 I was a whetstone for his mind. 13 I stimulated him. 14 He liked to think aloud in my presence. 15 His remarks could hardly be said to be made to me - many of them would have been as appropriately addressed to his bedstead - but none the less, having formed the habit, it had become in some way helpful that I should register and interject. 16 If I irritated him by a certain methodical slowness in my mentality, that irritation served only to make his own flame-like intuitions and impressions flash up the more vividly and swiftly. 17 Such was my humble rôle in our alliance.
18 When I arrived at Baker Street I found him huddled up in his arm-chair with updrawn knees, his pipe in his mouth and his brow furrowed with thought. 19 It was clear that he was in the throes of some vexatious problem. 20 With a wave of his hand he indicated my old arm-chair, but otherwise for half an hour he gave no sign that he was aware of my presence. 21 Then with a start he seemed to come from his reverie, and, with his usual whimsical smile, he greeted me back to what had once been my home.
22 'You will excuse a certain abstraction of mind, my dear Watson,' said he. 23 'Some curious facts have been submitted to me within the last twenty-four hours, and they in turn have given rise to some speculations of a more general character. 24 I have serious thoughts of writing a small monograph upon the uses of dogs in the work of the detective.'
25 'But surely, Holmes, this has been explored,' said I. 26 'Bloodhounds - sleuth-hounds-'
27 'No, no, Watson, that side of the matter is, of course, obvious. 28 But there is another which is far more subtle. 29 You may recollect that in the case which you, in your sensational way, coupled with the Copper Beeches, I was able, by watching the mind of the child, to form a deduction as to the criminal habits of the very smug and respectable father.'
30 'Yes, I remember it well.'
31 'My line of thoughts about dogs is analogous. 32 A dog reflects the family life. 33 Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? 34 Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. 35 And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others.'
36 I shook my head. 37 'Surely, Holmes, this is a little farfetched,' said I.
38 He had refilled his pipe and resumed his seat, taking no notice of my comment.
39 'The practical application of what I have said is very close to the problem which I am investigating. 40 It is a tangled skein, you understand, and I am looking for a loose end. 41 One possible loose end lies in the question: Why does Professor Presbury's faithful wolf-hound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?'
42 I sank back in my chair in some disappointment. 43 Was it for so trivial a question as this that I had been summoned from my work? 44 Holmes glanced across at me.
45 'The same old Watson!' said he. 46 'You never learn that the gravest issues may depend upon the smallest things. 47 But is it not on the face of it strange that a staid, elderly philosopher - you've heard of Presbury, of course, the famous Camford physiologist? - that such a man, whose friend has been his devoted wolf-hound, should now have been twice attacked by his own dog? 48 What do you make of it?
49 'The dog is ill.'
50 'Well, that has to be considered. 51 But he attacks no one else, nor does he apparently molest his master, save on very special occasions. 52 Curious, Watson - very curious. 53 But young Mr Bennett is before his time, if that is his ring. 54 I had hoped to have a longer chat with you before he came.'
55 There was a quick step on the stairs, a sharp tap at the door, and a moment later the new client presented himself. 56 He was a tall, handsome youth about thirty, well dressed and elegant, but with something in his bearing which suggested the shyness of the student rather than the selfpossession of the man of the world. 57 He shook hands with Holmes, and then looked with some surprise at me.
58 'This matter is very delicate, Mr Holmes,' he said. 59 'Consider the relation in which I stand to Professor Presbury, both privately and publicly. 60 I really can hardly justify myself if I speak before any third person.'
61 'Have no fear, Mr Bennett. 62 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.'
63 'As you like, Mr Holmes. 64 You will, I am sure, understand my having some reserves in the matter.'
65 '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. 66 Certainly we must agree that the Professor has every claim upon his loyalty and devotion. 67 But it may best be shown by taking the necessary steps to clear up this strange mystery.'
68 'I hope so, Mr Holmes. 69 That is my one object. 70 Does Dr Watson know the situation?'
71 'I have not had time to explain it.'
72 'Then perhaps I had better go over the ground again before explaining some fresh developments.'
73 'I will do so myself,' said Holmes, 'in order to show that I have the events in their due order. 74 The Professor, Watson, is a man of European reputation. 75 His life has been academic. 76 There has never been a breath of scandal. 77 He is a widower with one daughter, Edith. 78 He is, I gather, a man of very virile and positive, one might almost say combative, character. 79 So the matter stood until a very few months ago.
80 'Then the current of his life was broken. 81 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. 82 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. 83 The lady, Alice Morphy, was a very perfect girl both in mind and body, so that there was every excuse for the Professor's infatuation. 84 None the less, it did not meet with full approval in his own family.'
85 'We thought it rather excessive,' said our visitor.
86 'Exactly. 87 Excessive and a little violent and unnatural. 88 Professor Presbury was rich, however, and there was no objection upon the part of the father. 89 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. 90 The girl seemed to like the Professor in spite of his eccentricities. 91 It was only age which stood in the way.
92 'About this time a little mystery suddenly clouded the normal routine of the Professor's life. 93 He did what he had never done before. 94 He left home and gave no indication where he was going. 95 He was away a fortnight, and returned looking rather travel-worn. 96 He made no allusion to where he had been, although he was usually the frankest of men. 97 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. 98 Only in this way did his own household learn where he had been.
99 'Now comes the point. 100 From that time onwards a curious change came over the Professor. 101 He became furtive and sly. 102 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. 103 His intellect was not affected. 104 His lectures were as brilliant as ever. 105 But always there was something new, something sinister and unexpected. 106 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. 107 You, sir, as I understand, did the same - but all was in vain. 108 And now, Mr Bennett, tell in your own words the incident of the letters.'
109 'You must understand, Dr Watson, that the Professor had no secrets from me. 110 If I were his son or his younger brother, I could not have more completely enjoyed his confidence. 111 As his secretary I handled every paper which came to him, and I opened and subdivided his letters. 112 Shortly after his return all this was changed. 113 He told me that certain letters might come to him from London which would be marked by a cross under the stamp. 114 These were to be set aside for his own eyes only. 115 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. 116 If he answered them at all the answers did not pass through my hands nor into the letter-basket in which our correspondence was collected.'
117 'And the box,' said Holmes.
118 'Ah, yes, the box. 119 The Professor brought back a little wooden box from his travels. 120 It was the one thing which suggested a Continental tour, for it was one of those quaint carved things which one associates with Germany. 121 This he placed in his instrument cupboard. 122 One day, in looking for a cannula, I took up the box. 123 To my surprise he was very angry, and reproved me in words which were quite savage for my curiosity. 124 It was the first time such a thing had happened and I was deeply hurt. 125 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.' 126 Mr Bennett drew a little diary book from his pocket. 127 'That was on July 2nd,' said he.
128 'You are certainly an admirable witness,' said Holmes. 129 'I may need some of these dates which you have noted.'
130 'I learned method among other things from my great teacher. 131 From the time that I observed abnormality in his behaviour I felt that it was my duty to study his case. 132 Thus I have it here that it was on that very day, July 2nd, that Roy attacked the Professor as he came from his study into the hall. 133 Again on July 11th there was a scene of the same sort, and then I have a note of yet another upon July 20th. 134 After that we had to banish Roy to the stables. 135 He was a dear, affectionate animal - but I fear I weary you.'
136 Mr Bennett spoke in a tone of reproach, for it was very clear that Holmes was not listening. 137 His face was rigid and his eyes gazed abstractedly at the ceiling. 138 With an effort he recovered himself.
139 'Singular! 140 Most singular!' he murmured. 141 'These details were new to me, Mr Bennett. 142 I think we have now fairly gone over the old ground, have we not? 143 But you spoke of some fresh developments.'
144 The pleasant, open face of our visitor clouded over, shadowed by some grim remembrance. 145 'What I speak of occurred the night before last,' said he. 146 'I was lying awake about two in the morning, when I was aware of a dull muffled sound coming from the passage. 147 I opened my door and peeped out. 148 I should explain that the Professor sleeps at the end of the passage-'
149 'The date being - asked Holmes.
150 Our visitor was clearly annoyed at so irrelevant an interruption.
151 'I have said, sir, that it was the night before last - that is, September 4th.'
152 Holmes nodded and smiled.
153 'Pray continue,' said he.
154 'He sleeps at the end of the passage, and would have to pass my door in order to reach the staircase. 155 It was a really terrifying experience, Mr Holmes. 156 I think that I am as strong-nerved as my neighbours, but I was shaken by what I saw. 157 The passage was dark save that one window half-way along it threw a patch of light. 158 I could see that something was coming along the passage, something dark and crouching. 159 Then suddenly it emerged into the light, and I saw that it was he. 160 He was crawling, Mr Holmes - crawling! 161 He was not quite on his hands and knees. 162 I should rather say on his hands and feet, with his face sunk between his hands. 163 Yet he seemed to move with ease. 164 I was so paralysed 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. 165 His answer was extraordinary. 166 He sprang up, spat out some atrocious word at me, and hurried on past me, and down the staircase. 167 I waited about for an hour, but he did not come back. 168 It must have been daylight before he regained his room.'
169 'Well, Watson, what make you of that?' asked Holmes, with the air of the pathologist who presents a rare specimen.
170 'Lumbago, possibly. 171 I have known a severe attack make a man walk in just such a way, and nothing would be more trying to the temper.'
172 'Good, Watson! 173 You always keep us flat-footed on the ground. 174 But we can hardly accept lumbago, since he was able to stand erect in a moment.'
175 'He was never better in health,' said Bennett. 176 'In fact, he is stronger than I have known him for years. 177 But there are the facts, Mr Holmes. 178 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. 179 Edith - Miss Presbury - feels as I do, that we cannot wait passively any longer.'
180 'It is certainly a very curious and suggestive case. 181 What do you think, Watson?'
182 'Speaking as a medical man,' said I, 'it appears to be a case for an alienist. 183 The old gentleman's cerebral processes were disturbed by the love affair. 184 He made a journey abroad in the hope of breaking himself of the passion. 185 His letters and the box may be connected with some other private transaction - a loan, perhaps, or share certificates, which are in the box.'
186 'And the wolf-hound no doubt disapproved of the financial bargain. 187 No, no, Watson, there is more in it than this. 188 Now, I can only suggest-'
189 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. 190 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.
191 'Edith, dear! 192 Nothing the matter, I hope?'
193 'I felt I must follow you. 194 Oh, Jack, I have been so dreadfully frightened! 195 It is awful to be there alone.'
196 'Mr Holmes, this is the young lady I spoke of. 197 This is my fiancée.'
198 'We were gradually coming to that conclusion, were we not, Watson?' Holmes answered, with a smile. 199 'I take it, Miss Presbury, that there is some fresh development in the case, and that you thought we should know?'
200 Our new visitor, a bright, handsome girl of a conventional English type, smiled back at Holmes as she seated herself beside Mr Bennett.
201 'When I found Mr Bennett had left his hotel I thought I should probably find him here. 202 Of course, he had told me that he would consult you. 203 But, oh, Mr Holmes, can you do nothing for my poor father?'
204 'I have hopes, Miss Presbury, but the case is still obscure. 205 Perhaps what you have to say may throw some fresh light upon it.'
206 'It was last night, Mr Holmes. 207 He had been very strange all day. 208 I am sure that there are times when he has no recollection of what he does. 209 He lives as in a strange dream. 210 Yesterday was such a day. 211 It was not my father with whom I lived. 212 His outward shell was there, but it was not really he.'
213 'Tell me what happened.'
214 'I was awakened in the night by the dog barking most furiously. 215 Poor Roy, he is chained now near the stable. 216 I may say that I always sleep with my door locked, for, as Jack - as Mr Bennett - will tell you, we all have a feeling of impending danger. 217 My room is on the second floor. 218 It happened that the blind was up in my window, and there was bright moonlight outside. 219 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 father's face looking in at me. 220 Mr Holmes, I nearly died of surprise and horror. 221 There it was pressed against the window-pane, and one hand seemed to be raised as if to push up the window. 222 If that window had opened, I think I should have gone mad. 223 It was no delusion, Mr Holmes. 224 Don't deceive yourself by thinking so. 225 I dare say it was twenty seconds or so that I lay paralysed and watched the face. 226 Then it vanished, but I could not - I could not spring out of bed and look out after it. 227 I lay cold and shivering till morning. 228 At breakfast he was sharp and fierce in manner, and made no allusion to the adventure of the night. 229 Neither did I, but I gave an excuse for coming to town - and here I am.'
230 Holmes looked thoroughly surprised at Miss Presbury's narrative.
231 'My dear young lady, you say that your room is on the second floor. 232 Is there a long ladder in the garden?'
233 'No, Mr Holmes, that is the amazing part of it. 234 There is no possible way of reaching the window - and yet he was there.'
235 'The date being September 5th,' said Holmes. 236 'That certainly complicates matters.'
237 It was the young lady's turn to look surprised. 238 'This is the second time that you have alluded to the date, Mr Holmes,' said Bennett. 239 'Is it possible that it has any bearing upon the case?'
240 'It is possible - very possible - and yet I have not my full material at present.'
241 'Possibly you are thinking of the connection between insanity and phases of the moon?'
242 'No, I assure you. 243 It was quite a different line of thought. 244 Possibly you can leave your notebook with me and I will check the dates. 245 Now I think, Watson, that our line of action is perfectly clear. 246 This young lady has informed us - and I have the greatest confidence in her intuition - that her father remembers little or nothing which occurs upon certain dates. 247 We will therefore call upon him as if he had given us an appointment upon such a date. 248 He will put it down to his own lack of memory. 249 Thus we will open our campaign by having a good close view of him.'
250 'That is excellent,' said Mr Bennett. 251 'I warn you, however, that the Professor is irascible and violent at times.'
252 Holmes smiled. 253 'There are reasons why we should come at once - very cogent reasons if my theories hold good. 254 To-morrow, Mr Bennett, will certainly see us in Camford. 255 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. 256 I think, Watson, that our lot for the next few days might lie in less pleasant places.'
257 Monday morning found us on our way to the famous University town - an 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. 258 Holmes made no allusion to the case until after we had deposited our suit-cases at the ancient hostel of which he had spoken.
259 'I think, Watson, that we can catch the Professor just before lunch. 260 He lectures at eleven, and should have an interval at home.'
261 'What possible excuse have we for calling?'
262 Holmes glanced at his notebook.
263 'There was a period of excitement upon August 25th. 264 We will assume that he is a little hazy as to what he does at such times. 265 If we insist that we are there by appointment I think he will hardly venture to contradict us. 266 Have you the effrontery necessary to put it through?'
267 'We can but try.'
268 'Excellent, Watson! 269 Compound of the Busy Bee and Excelsior. 270 We can but try - the motto of the firm. 271 A friendly native will surely guide us.'
272 Such a one on the back of a smart hansom swept us past a row of ancient colleges, and finally turning into a treelined drive pulled up at the door of a charming house, girt round with lawns and covered with purple wistaria. 273 Professor Presbury was certainly surrounded with every sign not only of comfort but of luxury. 274 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. 275 A moment later we were actually in his sanctum, and the mysterious scientist, whose vagaries had brought us from London, was standing before us. 276 There was certainly no sign of eccentricity either in his manner or appearance, for he was a portly, largefeatured man, grave, tall, and frock-coated, with the dignity of bearing which a lecturer needs. 277 His eyes were his most remarkable feature, keen, observant, and clever to the verge of cunning.
278 He looked at our cards. 279 'Pray sit down, gentlemen. 280 What can I do for you?'
281 Mr Holmes smiled amiably.
282 'It was the question which I was about to put to you, Professor.'
283 'To me, sir!'
284 'Possibly there is some mistake. 285 I heard through a second person that Professor Presbury of Camford had need of my services.'
286 'Oh, indeed!' 287 It seemed to me that there was a malicious sparkle in the intense grey eyes. 288 'You heard that, did you? 289 May I ask the name of your informant?'
290 'I am sorry, Professor, but the matter was rather confidential. 291 If I have made a mistake there is no harm done. 292 I can only express my regret.'
293 'Not at all. 294 I should wish to go further into this matter. 295 It interests me. 296 Have you any scrap of writing, any letter or telegram, to bear out your assertion?'
297 'No, I have not.'
298 'I presume that you do not go so far as to assert that I summoned you?'
299 'I would rather answer no questions,' said Holmes.
300 'No, I dare say not,' said the Professor, with asperity. 301 'However, that particular one can be answered very easily without your aid.'
302 He walked across the room to the bell. 303 Our London friend, Mr Bennett, answered the call.
304 'Come in, Mr Bennett. 305 These two gentlemen have come from London under the impression that they have been summoned. 306 You handle all my correspondence. 307 Have you a note of anything going to a person named Holmes?'
308 'No, sir,' Bennett answered, with a flush.
309 'That is conclusive,' said the Professor, glaring angrily at my companion. 310 'Now, sir' - he leaned forward with his two hands upon the table - 'it seems to me that your position is a very questionable one.'
311 Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
312 'I can only repeat that I am sorry that we have made a needless intrusion.'
313 'Hardly enough, Mr Holmes!' the old man cried, in a high screaming voice, with extraordinary malignancy upon his face. 314 He got between us and the door as he spoke, and he shook his two hands at us with furious passion. 315 'You can hardly get out of it so easily as that.' 316 His face was convulsed and he grinned and gibbered at us in his senseless rage. 317 I am convinced that we should have had to fight our way out of the room if Mr Bennett had not intervened.
318 'My dear Professor,' he cried, 'consider your position! 319 Consider the scandal at the University! 320 Mr Holmes is a well-known man. 321 You cannot possibly treat him with such discourtesy.'
322 Sulkily our host - if I may call him so - cleared the path to the door. 323 We were glad to find ourselves outside the house, and in the quiet of the tree-lined drive. 324 Holmes seemed greatly amused by the episode.
325 'Our learned friend's nerves are somewhat out of order,' said he. 326 'Perhaps our intrusion was a little crude, and yet we have gained that personal contact which I desired. 327 But, dear me, Watson, he is surely at our heels. 328 The villain still pursues us.'
329 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. 330 He came panting up to us.
331 'I am so sorry, Mr Holmes. 332 I wished to apologize.'
333 'My dear sir, there is no need. 334 It is all in the way of professional experience.'
335 'I have never seen him in a more dangerous mood. 336 But he grows more sinister. 337 You can understand now why his daughter and I are alarmed. 338 And yet his mind is perfectly clear.'
339 'Too clear!' said Holmes. 340 'That was my miscalculation. 341 It is evident that his memory is much more reliable than I had thought. 342 By the way, can we, before we go, see the window of Miss Presbury's room?'
343 Mr Bennett pushed his way through some shrubs and we had a view of the side of the house.
344 'It is there. 345 The second on the left.'
346 'Dear me, it seems hardly accessible. 347 And yet you will observe that there is a creeper below and a water-pipe above which give some foothold.'
348 'I could not climb it myself,' said Mr Bennett.
349 'Very likely. 350 It would certainly be a dangerous exploit for any normal man.'
351 'There was one other thing I wished to tell you, Mr Holmes. 352 I have the address of the man in London to whom the Professor writes. 353 He seems to have written this morning and I got it from his blotting-paper. 354 It is an ignoble position for a trusted secretary, but what else can I do?'
355 Holmes glanced at the paper and put it into his pocket.
356 'Dorak - a curious name. 357 Slavonic, I imagine. 358 Well, it is an important link in the chain. 359 We return to London this afternoon, Mr Bennett. 360 I see no good purpose to be served by our remaining. 361 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. 362 No action is as yet possible.'
363 'Then what on earth are we to do?'
364 'A little patience, Mr Bennett. 365 Things will soon develop. 366 Unless I am mistaken next Tuesday may mark a crisis. 367 Certainly we shall be in Camford on that day. 368 Meanwhile, the general position is undeniably unpleasant, and if Miss Presbury can prolong her visit-'
369 'That is easy.'
370 'Then let her stay till we can assure her that all danger is past. 371 Meanwhile, let him have his way and do not cross him. 372 So long as he is in a good humour all is well.'
373 'There he is!' said Bennett, in a startled whisper. 374 Looking between the branches we saw the tall, erect figure emerge from the hall door and look around him. 375 He stood leaning forward, his hands swinging straight before him, his head turning from side to side. 376 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.
377 'I expect the old gentleman has been putting two and two together,' said Holmes, as we walked hotelwards. 378 'He struck me as having a particularly clear and logical brain, from the little I saw of him. 379 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. 380 I rather fancy that friend Bennett is in for an uncomfortable time.'
381 Holmes stopped at a post office and sent off a telegram on our way. 382 The answer reached us in the evening, and he tossed it across to me. 383 'Have visited the Commercial Road and seen Dorak. 384 Suave person, Bohemian, elderly. 385 Keeps large general store. 386 - Mercer.'
387 'Mercer is since your time,' said Holmes. 388 'He is my general utility man who looks up routine business. 389 It was important to know something of the man with whom our Professor was so secretly corresponding. 390 His nationality connects up with the Prague visit.'
391 'Thank goodness that something connects with something,' said I. 392 'At present we seem to be faced by a long series of inexplicable incidents with no bearing upon each other. 393 For example what possible connection can there be between an angry wolf-hound and a visit to Bohemia, or either of them with a man crawling down a passage at night? 394 As to your dates, that is the biggest mystification of all.'
395 Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands. 396 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.
397 'Well, now, let us take the dates first,' said he, his fingertips together and his manner as if he were addressing a class. 398 'This excellent young man's diary shows that there was trouble upon July 2nd, and from then onwards it seems to have been at nine-day intervals, with, so far as I remember, only one exception. 399 Thus the last outbreak upon Friday was on September 3rd, which also falls into the series, as did August 25th, which preceded it. 400 The thing is beyond coincidence.'
401 I was forced to agree.
402 '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. 403 His naturally violent nature is intensified by it. 404 He learned to take this drug while he was in Prague, and is now supplied with it by a Bohemian intermediary in London. 405 This all hangs together, Watson!'
406 'But the dog, the face at the window, the creeping man in the passage?'
407 'Well, well, we have made a beginning. 408 I should not expect any fresh developments until next Tuesday. 409 In the meantime we can only keep in touch with friend Bennett and enjoy the amenities of this charming town.'
410 In the morning Mr Bennett slipped round to bring us the latest report. 411 As Holmes had imagined, times had not been easy with him. 412 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. 413 This morning he was quite himself again, however, and had delivered his usual brilliant lecture to a crowded class. 414 '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. 415 But it's not he - it's never the man whom we have known.'
416 'I don't think you have anything to fear now for a week at least,' Holmes answered. 417 'I am a busy man, and Dr Watson has his patients to attend to. 418 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. 419 Meanwhile, keep us posted in what occurs.'
420 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. 421 From what he told me as we travelled up to Camford all was well, the peace of the Professor's house had been unruffled, and his own conduct perfectly normal. 422 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'. 423 'He heard from his London correspondent today. 424 There was a letter and there was a small packet, each with the cross under the stamp which warned me not to touch them. 425 There has been nothing else.'
426 'That may prove quite enough,' said Holmes, grimly. 427 'Now, Mr Bennett, we shall, I think, come to some conclusion tonight. 428 If my deductions are correct we should have an opportunity of bringing matters to a head. 429 In order to do so it is necessary to hold the Professor under observation. 430 I would suggest, therefore, that you remain awake and on the look-out. 431 Should you hear him pass your door do not interrupt him, but follow him as discreetly as you can. 432 Dr Watson and I will not be far off. 433 By the way, where is the key of that little box of which you spoke?'
434 'Upon his watch-chain.'
435 'I fancy our researches must lie in that direction. 436 At the worst the lock should not be very formidable. 437 Have you any other able-bodied man on the premises?'
438 'There is the coachman, Macphail.'
439 'Where does he sleep?'
440 'Over the stables.'
441 'We might possibly want him. 442 Well, we can do no more until we see how things develop. 443 Good-bye - but I expect that we shall see you before morning.'
444 It was nearly midnight before we took our station among some bushes immediately opposite the hall door of the Professor. 445 It was a fine night, but chilly, and we were glad of our warm overcoats. 446 There was a breeze, and clouds were scudding across the sky, obscuring from time to time the half-moon. 447 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.
448 'If the cycle of nine days holds good then we shall have the Professor at his worst tonight,' said Holmes. 449 '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. 450 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. 451 He takes it under definite directions which regulate this ninth-day system, which was the first point which attracted my attention. 452 But his symptoms are most remarkable. 453 Did you observe his knuckles?' 454 I had to confess that I did not.
455 'Thick and horny in a way which is quite new in my experience. 456 Always look at the hands first, Watson. 457 Then cuffs, trouser-knees, and boots. 458 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. 459 'Oh, Watson, Watson, what a fool I have been! 460 It seems incredible, and yet it must be true. 461 All points in one direction. 462 How could I miss seeing the connection of ideas? 463 Those knuckles - how could I have passed those knuckles? 464 And the dog! 465 And the ivy! 466 It's surely time that I disappeared into that little farm of my dreams. 467 Look out, Watson! 468 Here he is! 469 We shall have the chance of seeing for ourselves.'
470 The hall door had slowly opened, and against the lamp-lit background we saw the tall figure of Professor Presbury. 471 He was clad in his dressing-gown. 472 As he stood outlined in the doorway he was erect but leaning forward with dangling arms, as when we saw him last.
473 Now he stepped forward into the drive, and an extraordinary change came over him. 474 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. 475 He moved along the face of the house and then round the corner. 476 As he disappeared Bennett slipped through the hall door and softly followed him.
477 '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. 478 The Professor was clearly visible crouching at the foot of the ivy-covered wall. 479 As we watched him he suddenly began with incredible agility to ascend it. 480 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. 481 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. 482 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. 483 The wolf-hound was out now, barking furiously, and more excited than ever when it actually caught sight of its master. 484 It was straining on its chain, and quivering with eagerness and rage. 485 The Professor squatted down very deliberately just out of reach of the hound, and began to provoke it in every possible way. 486 He took handfuls of pebbles from the drive and threw them in the dog's 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 animal's fury, which was already beyond all control. 487 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 froglike 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.
488 And then in a moment it happened! 489 It was not the chain that broke, but it was the collar that slipped, for it had been made for a thick-necked Newfoundland. 490 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. 491 It was a very narrow thing for the Professor's life. 492 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. 493 It might have been a dangerous task for us, but Bennett's voice and presence brought the great wolfhound instantly to reason. 494 The uproar had brought the sleepy and astonished coachman from his room above the stables. 495 'I'm not surprised,' said he, shaking his head. 496 'I've seen him at it before. 497 I knew the dog would get him sooner or later.'
498 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. 499 The sharp teeth had passed dangerously near the carotid artery, and the haemorrhage was serious. 500 In half an hour the danger was past, I had given the patient an injection of morphia, and he had sunk into deep sleep. 501 Then, and only then, were we able to look at each other and to take stock of the situation. 502 'I think a first-class surgeon should see him,' said I.
503 'For God's sake, no!' cried Bennett. 504 'At present the scandal is confined to our own household. 505 It is safe with us. 506 If it gets beyond these walls it will never stop. 507 Consider his position at the University, his European reputation, the feelings of his daughter.'
508 'Quite so,' said Holmes. 509 '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. 510 The key from the watch-chain, Mr Bennett. 511 Macphail will guard the patient and let us know if there is any change. 512 Let us see what we can find in the Professor's mysterious box.'
513 There was not much, but there was enough - an empty phial, another nearly full, a hypodermic syringe, several letters in a crabbed, foreign hand. 514 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'. 515 They were mere invoices to say that a fresh bottle was being sent to Professor Presbury, or receipts to acknowledge money. 516 There was one other envelope, however, in a more educated hand and bearing the Austrian stamp with the postmark of Prague. 517 'Here we have our material!' cried Holmes, as he tore out the enclosure.

518 HONOURED COLLEAGUE, 519 [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 kind. 520 It is possible that the serum of Anthropoid would have been better. 521 I have, as I explained to you, used black-faced Langur because a specimen was accessible. 522 Langur is, of course, a crawler and climber, while Anthropoid walks erect, and is in all ways nearer. 523 I beg you to take every possible precaution that there be no premature revelation of the process. 524 I have one other client in England, and Dorak is my agent for both. 525 Weekly reports will oblige. 526 Yours with high esteem, 527 H. LOWENSTEIN

528 Lowenstein! 529 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. 530 Lowenstein of Prague! 531 Lowenstein with the wondrous strengthgiving serum, tabooed by the profession because he refused to reveal its source. 532 In a few words I said what I remembered. 533 Bennett had taken a manual of zoology from the shelves. 534 '"Langur",' he read, '"the great black-faced monkey of the Himalayan slopes, biggest and most human of climbing monkeys." 535 Many details are added. 536 Well, thanks to you, Mr Holmes, it is very clear that we have traced the evil to its source.'
537 '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. 538 When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it. 539 The highest type of man may revert to the animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny.' 540 He sat musing for a little with the phial in his hand, looking at the clear liquid within. 541 '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. 542 But it may recur. 543 Others may find a better way. 544 There is danger there - a very real danger to humanity. 545 Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives. 546 The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. 547 It would be the survival of the least fit. 548 What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?' 549 Suddenly the dreamer disappeared, and Holmes, the man of action, sprang from his chair. 550 'I think there is nothing more to be said, Mr Bennett. 551 The various incidents will now fit themselves easily into the general scheme. 552 The dog, of course, was aware of the change far more quickly than you. 553 His smell would ensure that. 554 It was the monkey, not the Professor, whom Roy attacked, just as it was the monkey who teased Roy. 555 Climbing was a joy to the creature, and it was a mere chance, I take it, that the pastime brought him to the young lady's window. 556 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.'


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