The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Search the Sherlock Holmes stories

Your search is highlighted in the text.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes
The Six Napoleons

 

1 It was no very unusual thing for Mr Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, to look in upon us of an evening, and his visits were welcome to Sherlock Holmes, for they enabled him to keep in touch with all that was going on at the police headquarters. 2 In return for the news which Lestrade would bring, Holmes was always ready to listen with attention to the details of any case upon which the detective was engaged, and was able occasionally, without any active interference, to give some hint or suggestion drawn from his own vast knowledge and experience.
3 On this particular evening Lestrade had spoken of the weather and the newspapers. 4 Then he had fallen silent, puffing thoughtfully at his cigar. 5 Holmes looked keenly at him.
6 'Anything remarkable on hand?' he asked.
7 'Oh, no, Mr Holmes, nothing very particular.'
8 'Then tell me all about it.'
9 Lestrade laughed.
10 'Well, Mr Holmes, there is no use denying that there is something on my mind. 11 And yet it is such an absurd business that I hesitated to bother you about it. 12 On the other hand, although it is trivial, it is undoubtedly queer, and I know that you have a taste for all that is out of the common. 13 But in my opinion it comes more in Dr Watson's line that ours.'
14 'Disease?' said I.
15 'Madness, anyhow. 16 And a queer madness too! 17 You wouldn't think there was anyone living at this time of day who had such a hatred of Napoleon the First that he would break any image of him that he could see.'
18 Holmes sank back in his chair.
19 'That's no business of mine,' said he.
20 'Exactly. 21 That's what I said. 22 But then, when the man commits burglary in order to break images which are not his own, that brings it away from the doctor and on to the policeman.'
23 Holmes sat up again.
24 'Burglary! 25 This is more interesting. 26 Let me hear the details.'
27 Lestrade took out his official note-book and refreshed his memory from its pages.
28 'The first case reported was four days ago,' said he. 29 'It was at the shop of Morse Hudson, who has a place for the sale of pictures and statues in the Kennington Road. 30 The assistant had left the front shop for an instant, when he heard a crash, and, hurrying in found a plaster bust of Napoleon, which stood with several other works of art upon the counter, lying shivered into fragments. 31 He rushed out into the road, but, although several passers-by declared that they had noticed a man run out of the shop, he could neither see anyone nor could he find any means of identifying the rascal. 32 It seemed to be one of those senseless acts of hooliganism which occur from time to time, and it was reported to the constable on the beat as such. 33 The plaster cast was not worth more than a few shillings, and the whole affair appeared to be too childish for any particular investigation.
34 'The second case, however, was more serious and also more singular. 35 It occurred only last night.
36 'In Kennington Road, and within a few hundred yards of Morse Hudson's shop, there lives a well-known medical practitioner, named Dr Barnicot, who has one of the largest practices upon the south side of the Thames. 37 His residence and principal consulting-room is at Kennington Road, but he has a branch surgery and dispensary at Lower Brixton Road, two miles away. 38 This Dr Barnicot is an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon, and his house is full of books, pictures, and relics of the French Emperor. 39 Some little time ago he purchased from Morse Hudson two duplicate plaster casts of the famous head of Napoleon by the French sculptor Devine. 40 One of these he placed in his hall in the house at Kennington Road, and the other on the mantelpiece of the surgery at Lower Brixton. 41 Well, when Dr Barnicot came down this morning he was astonished to find that his house had been burgled during the night, but that nothing had been taken save the plaster head from the hall. 42 It had been carried out, and had been dashed savagely against the garden wall, under which its splintered fragments were discovered.'
43 Holmes rubbed his hands.
44 'This is certainly very novel,' said he.
45 'I thought it would please you. 46 But I have not got to the end yet. 47 Dr Barnicot was due at his surgery at twelve o'clock, and you can imagine his amazement when, on arriving there, he found that the window had been opened in the night, and that the broken pieces of his second bust were strewn all over the room. 48 It had been smashed to atoms where it stood. 49 In neither case were there any signs which could give us a clue as to the criminal or lunatic who had done the mischief. 50 Now, Mr Holmes, you have got the facts.'
51 'They are singular, not to say grotesque,' said Holmes. 52 'May I ask whether the two busts smashed in Dr Barnicot's rooms were the exact duplicates of the one which was destroyed in Morse Hudson's shop?'
53 'They were taken from the same mould.'
54 'Such a fact must tell against the theory that the man who breaks them is influenced by any general hatred of Napoleon. 55 Considering how many hundreds of statues of the great Emperor must exist in London, it is too much to suppose such a coincidence as that a promiscuous iconoclast should chance to begin upon three specimens of the same bust.'
56 'Well, I thought as you do,' said Lestrade. 57 'On the other hand, this Morse Hudson is the purveyor of busts in that part of London, and these three were the only ones which had been in his shop for years. 58 So although, as you say, there are many hundreds of statues in London, it is very probable that these three were the only ones in that district. 59 Therefore a local fanatic would begin with them. 60 What do you think, Dr Watson?'
61 'There are no limits to the possibilities of monomania,' I answered. 62 'There is the condition which the modern French psychologists have called the "idée fixe", which may be trifling in character, and accompanied by complete sanity in every other way. 63 A man who had read deeply about Napoleon, or who had possibly received some hereditary family injury through the great war, might conceivably form such an "idée fixe", and under its influence be capable of any fantastic outrage.'
64 'That won't do, my dear Watson,' said Holmes, shaking his head; 'for no amount of "idée fixe" would enable your interesting monomaniac to find out where these busts were situated.'
65 'Well, how you do you explain it?'
66 'I don't attempt to do so. 67 I would only observe that there is a certain method in the gentleman's eccentric proceedings. 68 For example, in Dr Barnicot's hall, where a sound might arouse the family, the bust was taken outside before being broken, whereas in the surgery, where there was less danger of an alarm, it was smashed where it stood. 69 The affair seems absurdly trifling, and yet I dare call nothing trivial when I reflect that some of my most classic cases have had the least promising commencement. 70 You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day. 71 I can't afford, therefore, to smile at your three broken busts, Lestrade, and I shall be very much obliged to you if you will let me hear of any fresh developments of so singular a chain of events.'

72 The development for which my friend had asked came in a quicker and an infinitely more tragic form than he could have imagined. 73 I was still dressing in my bedroom next morning, when there was a tap at the door, and Holmes entered, a telegram in his hand. 74 He read it aloud:

75 Come instantly, 131, Pitt Street, Kensington. 76 LESTRADE.

77 'What is it, then?' I asked.
78 'Don't know - may be anything. 79 But I suspect it is the sequel of the story of the statues. 80 In that case our friend the image-breaker has begun operations in another quarter of London. 81 There's coffee on the table, Watson, and I have a cab at the door.'
82 In half an hour we had reached Pitt Street, a quiet little backwater just beside one of the briskest currents of London life. 83 No. 131 was one of a row, all flat-chested, respectable, and most unromantic dwellings. 84 As we drove up we found the railings in front of the house lined by a curious crowd. 85 Holmes whistled.
86 'By George! it's attempted murder at the least. 87 Nothing less will hold the London message boy. 88 There's a deed of violence indicated in that fellow's round shoulders and outstretched neck. 89 What's this, Watson? 90 The top step swilled down and the other ones dry. 91 Footsteps enough, anyhow! 92 Well, well, there's Lestrade at the front window, and we shall soon know all about it.'
93 The official received us with a very grave face and showed us into a sitting-room, where an exceedingly unkempt and agitated elderly man, clad in a flannel dressing-gown, was pacing up and down. 94 He was introduced to us as the owner of the house - Mr Horace Harker, of the Central Press Syndicate.
95 'It's the Napoleon bust business again,' said Lestrade. 96 'You seemed interested last night, Mr Holmes, so I thought perhaps you would be glad to be present now that the affair has taken a very much graver turn.'
97 'What has it turned to, then?'
98 'To murder. 99 Mr Harker, will you tell these gentlemen exactly what has occurred?'
100 The man in the dressing-gown turned upon us with a most melancholy face.
101 'It's an extraordinary thing,' said he, 'that all my life I have been collecting other people's news, and now that a real piece of news has come my own way I am so confused and bothered that I can't put two words together. 102 If I had come in here as a journalist I should have interviewed myself and had two columns in every evening paper. 103 As it is, I am giving away valuable copy by telling my story over and over to a string of different people, and I can make no use of it myself. 104 However, I've heard your name, Mr Sherlock Holmes, and if you'll only explain this queer business I shall be paid for my trouble in telling you the story.'
105 Holmes sat down and listened.
106 'It all seems to centre round that bust of Napoleon which I bought for this very room about four months ago. 107 I picked it up cheap from Harding Brothers, two doors from the High Street Station. 108 A great deal of my journalistic work is done at night, and I often write until the early morning. 109 So it was to-day. 110 I was sitting in my den, which is at the back of the top of the house, about three o'clock, when I was convinced that I heard some sounds downstairs. 111 I listened, but they were not repeated, and I concluded that they came from outside. 112 Then suddenly, about five minutes later, there came a most horrible yell - the most dreadful sound, Mr Holmes, that ever I heard. 113 It will ring in my ears as long as I live. 114 I sat frozen with horror for a minute or two. 115 Then I seized the poker and went downstairs When I entered this room I found the window wide open, and I at once observed that the bust was gone from the mantelpiece. 116 Why any burglar should take such a thing passes my understanding, for it was only a plaster cast, and of no real value whatever.
117 'You can see for yourself that anyone going out through that open window could reach the front doorstep by taking a long stride. 118 This was clearly what the burglar had done, so I went round and opened the door. 119 Stepping out into the dark I nearly fell over a dead man who was lying there. 120 I ran back for a light, and there was the poor devil, a great gash in his throat and the whole place swimming in blood. 121 He lay on his back, his knees drawn up, and his mouth horribly open. 122 I shall see him in my dreams. 123 I had just time to blow on my police-whistle, and then I must have fainted, for I knew nothing more until I found the policeman standing over me in the hall.'
124 'Well, who was the murdered man?' asked Holmes.
125 'There's nothing to show who he was,' said Lestrade. 126 'You shall see the body at the mortuary, but we have made nothing of it up to now. 127 He is a tall man, sunburnt, very powerful, not more than thirty. 128 He is poorly dressed, and yet does not appear to be a labourer. 129 A horn-handled clasp-knife was lying in a pool of blood beside him. 130 Whether it was the weapon which did the deed, or whether it belonged to the dead man, I do not know. 131 There was no name on his clothing, and nothing in his pockets save an apple, some string, a shilling map of London, and a photograph. 132 Here it is.'
133 It was evidently taken by a snap-shot from a small camera. 134 It represented an alert, sharp-featured simian man with thick eyebrows, and a very peculiar projection of the lower part of the face like the muzzle of a baboon.
135 'And what became of the bust?' asked Holmes, after a careful study of this picture.
136 'We had news of it just before you came. 137 It has been found in the front garden of an empty house in Campden House Road. 138 It was broken into fragments. 139 I am going round now to see it. 140 Will you come?'
141 'Certainly. 142 I must just take one look round.' 143 He examined the carpet and the window. 144 'The fellow had either very long legs or was a most active man,' said he. 145 'With an area beneath, it was no mean feat to reach that window-ledge and open that window. 146 Getting back was comparatively simple. 147 Are you coming with us to see the remains of your bust, Mr Harker?'
148 The disconsolate journalist had seated himself at a writing-table.
149 'I must try and make something of it,' said he, 'though I have no doubt that the first editions of the evening papers are out already with full details. 150 It's like my luck! 151 You remember when the stand fell at Doncaster? 152 Well, I was the only journalist in the stand, and my journal the only one that had no account of it, for I was too shaken to write it. 153 And now I'll be too late with a murder done on my own doorstep.'
154 As we left the room we heard his pen travelling shrilly over the foolscap.
155 The spot where the fragments of the bust had been found was only a few hundred yards away. 156 For the first time our eyes rested upon this presentment of the great Emperor, which seemed to raise such frantic and destructive hatred in the mind of the unknown. 157 It lay scattered in splintered shards upon the grass. 158 Holmes picked up several of them and examined them carefully. 159 I was convinced from his intent face and purposeful manner that at last he was upon a clue.
160 'Well?' asked Lestrade.
161 Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
162 'We have a long way to go yet,' said he. 163 'And yet - and yet - well, we have some suggestive facts to act upon. 164 The possession of this trifling bust was worth more in the eyes of this strange criminal than a human life. 165 That is one point. 166 Then there is the singular fact that he did not break it in the house, or immediately outside the house, if to break it was his sole object.'
167 'He was rattled and hustled by meeting this other fellow. 168 He hardly knew what he was doing.'
169 'Well, that's likely enough. 170 But I wish to call your attention very particularly to the position of this house in the garden of which the bust was destroyed.'
171 Lestrade looked about him.
172 'It was an empty house, and so he knew that he would not be disturbed in the garden.'
173 'Yes, but there is another empty house farther up the street which he must have passed before he came to this one. 174 Why did he not break it there, since it is evident that every yard that he carried it increased the risk of someone meeting him?'
175 'I give it up,' said Lestrade.
176 Holmes pointed to the street-lamp above our heads.
177 'He could see what he was doing here, and he could not there. 178 That was the reason.'
179 'By Jove! that's true,' said the detective. 180 'Now that I come to think of it, Dr Barnicot's bust was broken not far from his red lamp. 181 Well, Mr Holmes, what are we to do with that fact?'
182 'To remember it - to docket it. 183 We may come on something later which will bear upon it. 184 What steps do you propose to take now, Lestrade?'
185 'The most practical way of getting at it, in my opinion, is to identify the dead man. 186 There should be no difficulty about that. 187 When we have found who he is and who his associates are, we should have a good start in learning what he was doing in Pitt Street last night, and who it was who met him and killed him on the doorstep of Mr Horace Harker. 188 Don't you think so?'
189 'No doubt; and yet it is not quite the way in which I should approach the case.'
190 'What would you do then?'
191 'Oh, you must not let me influence you in any way. 192 I suggest that you go on your line and I on mine. 193 We can compare notes afterwards, and each will supplement the other.'
194 'Very good,' said Lestrade.
195 'If you are going back to Pitt Street you might see Mr Horace Harker. 196 Tell him from me that I have quite made up my mind, and that it is certain that a dangerous homicidal lunatic with Napoleonic delusions was in his house last night. 197 It will be useful for his article.'
198 Lestrade stared.
199 'You don't seriously believe that?'
200 Holmes smiled.
201 'Don't I? 202 Well, perhaps I don't. 203 But I am sure that it will interest Mr Horace Harker and the subscribers of the Central Press Syndicate. 204 Now, Watson, I think that we shall find that we have a long and rather complex day's work before us. 205 I should be glad, Lestrade, if you could make it convenient to meet us at Baker Street at six o'clock this evening. 206 Until then I should like to keep this photograph found in the dead man's pocket. 207 It is possible that I may have to ask your company and assistance upon a small expedition which will have to be undertaken to-night, if my chain of reasoning should prove to be correct. 208 Until then, good-bye, and good luck!'
209 Sherlock Holmes and I walked together to the High Street, where he stopped at the shop of Harding Brothers, whence the bust had been purchased. 210 A young assistant informed us that Mr Harding would be absent until after noon, and that he was himself a newcomer, who could give us no information. 211 Holmes's face showed his disappointment and annoyance.
212 'Well, well, we can't expect to have it all our own way, Watson,' he said at last. 213 'We must come back in the afternoon, if Mr Harding will not be here until then. 214 I am, as you have no doubt surmised, endeavouring to trace these busts to their source, in order to find if there is not something peculiar which may account for their remarkable fate. 215 Let us make for Mr Morse Hudson, of the Kennington Road, and see if he can throw any light upon the problem.'
216 A drive of an hour brought us to the picture-dealer's establishment. 217 He was a small, stout man with a red face and a peppery manner.
218 'Yes, sir. 219 On my very counter, sir,' said he. 220 'What we pay rates and taxes for I don't know, when any ruffian can come in and break one's goods. 221 Yes, sir, it was I who sold Dr Barnicot his two statues. 222 Disgraceful, sir! 223 A Nihilist plot, that's what I make it. 224 No one but an Anarchist would go about breaking statues. 225 Red republicans, that's what I call 'em. 226 Who did I get the statues from? 227 I don't see what that has to do with it. 228 Well, if you really want to know, I got them from Gelder & Co., in Church Street, Stepney. 229 They are a well-known house in the trade, and have been this twenty years. 230 How many had I? 231 Three - two and one are three - two of Dr Barnicot's and one smashed in broad daylight on my own counter. 232 Do I know that photograph? 233 No, I don't. 234 Yes, I do though. 235 Why, it's Beppo! 236 He was a kind of Italian piece-work man, who made himself useful in the shop. 237 He could carve a bit, and gild a frame, and do odd jobs. 238 The fellow left me last week, and I've heard nothing of him since. 239 No, I don't know where he came from nor where he went to. 240 I had nothing against him while he was here. 241 He was gone two days before the bust was smashed.'
242 'Well, that's all we could reasonably expect to get from Morse Hudson,' said Holmes, as we emerged from the shop. 243 'We have this Beppo as a common factor, both in Kennington and in Kensington, so that is worth a ten-mile drive. 244 Now, Watson, let us make for Gelder & Co., of Stepney, the source and origin of busts. 245 I shall be surprised if we don't get some help down there.'
246 In rapid succession we passed through the fringe of fashionable London, hotel London, theatrical London, literary London, commercial London, and, finally, maritime London, till we came to a riverside city of a hundred thousand souls, where the tenement houses swelter and reek with the outcasts of Europe. 247 Here, in a broad thoroughfare, once the abode of wealthy city merchants we found the sculpture works for which we searched. 248 Outside was a considerable yard full of monumental masonry. 249 Inside was a large room in which fifty workers were carving or moulding. 250 The manager, a big blond German, received us civilly, and gave a clear answer to all Holmes's questions. 251 A reference to his books showed that hundreds of casts had been taken from a marble copy of Devine's head of Napoleon, but that the three which had been sent to Morse Hudson a year or so before had been half of a batch of six, the other three being sent to Harding Brothers, of Kensington. 252 There was no reason why those six should be different to any of the other casts. 253 He could suggest no possible cause why anyone should wish to destroy them - in fact, he laughed at the idea. 254 Their wholesale price was six shillings, but the retailer would get twelve or more. 255 The cast was taken in two moulds from each side of the face, and then these two profiles of plaster of Paris were joined together to make the complete bust. 256 The work was usually done by Italians in the room we were in. 257 When finished the busts were put on a table in the passage to dry, and afterwards stored. 258 That was all he could tell us.
259 But the production of the photograph had a remarkable effect upon the manager. 260 His face flushed with anger, and his brows knotted over his blue Teutonic eyes.
261 'Ah, the rascal!' he cried. 262 'Yes, indeed, I know him very well. 263 This has always been a respectable establishment, and the only time that we have ever had the police in it was over this very fellow. 264 It was more than a year ago now. 265 He knifed another Italian in the street, and then he came to the works with the police on his heels, and he was taken here. 266 Beppo was his name - his second name I never knew. 267 Serve me right for engaging a man with such a face. 268 But he was a good workman - one of the best.'
269 'What did he get?'
270 'The man lived, and he got off with a year. 271 I have no doubt he is out now; but he has not dared to show his nose here. 272 We have a cousin of his here, and I dare say he could tell you where he is.'
273 'No, no,' cried Holmes, 'not a word to the cousin - not a word, I beg you. 274 The matter is very important, and the farther I go with it the more important it seems to grow. 275 When you referred in your ledger to the sale of those casts I observed that the date was 3rd June of last year. 276 Could you give me the date when Beppo was arrested?'
277 'I could tell you roughly by the pay-list,' the manager answered. 278 'Yes,' he continued, after some turning over of pages, 'he was paid last on May 20th.'
279 'Thank you,' said Holmes. 280 'I don't think that I need intrude upon your time and patience any more.' 281 With a last word of caution that he should say nothing as to our researches we turned our faces westward once more.
282 The afternoon was far advanced before we were able to snatch a hasty luncheon at a restaurant. 283 A news-bill at the entrance announced 'Kensington Outrage. 284 Murder by a Madman', and the contents of the paper showed that Mr Horace Harker had got his account into print after all. 285 Two columns were occupied with a highly sensational and flowery rendering of the whole incident. 286 Holmes propped it against the cruet stand and read it while he ate. 287 Once or twice he chuckled.
288 'This is all right, Watson,' said he. 289 'Listen to this: "It is satisfactory to know that there can be no difference of opinion upon this case, since Mr Lestrade, one of the most experienced members of the official force, and Mr Sherlock Holmes, the well-known consulting expert, have each come to the conclusion that the grotesque series of incidents, which have ended in so tragic a fashion, arise from lunacy rather than from deliberate crime. 290 No explanation save mental aberration can cover the facts." 291 The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it. 292 And now, if you have quite finished, we will hark back to Kensington, and see what the manager of Harding Brothers has to say to the matter?
293 The founder of that great emporium proved to be a brisk, crisp little person, very dapper and quick, with a clear head and a ready tongue.
294 'Yes, sir, I have already read the account in the evening papers. 295 Mr Horace Harker is a customer of ours. 296 We supplied him with the bust some months ago. 297 We ordered three busts of that sort from Gelder & Co., of Stepney. 298 They are all sold now. 299 To whom? 300 Oh, I dare say by consulting our sales book we could very easily tell you. 301 Yes, we have the entries here. 302 One to Mr Harker, you see, and one to Mr Josiah Brown, of Laburnum Lodge, Laburnum Vale, Chiswick, and one to Mr Sandeford, of Lower Grove Road, Reading. 303 No, I have never seen this face which you show me in the photograph. 304 You would hardly forget it - would you, sir? - for I've seldom seen an uglier. 305 Have we any Italians on the staff? 306 Yes, sir, we have several among our work-people and cleaners. 307 I dare say they might get a peep at that sales book if they wanted to. 308 There is no particular reason for keeping a watch upon that book. 309 Well, well, it's a very strange business, and I hope that you'll let me know if anything comes of your inquiries.'
310 Holmes had taken several notes during Mr Harding's evidence, and I could see that he was thoroughly satisfied by the turn which affairs were taking. 311 He made no remark, however, save that, unless we hurried, we should be late for our appointment with Lestrade. 312 Sure enough, when we reached Baker Street the detective was already there, and we found him pacing up and down in a fever of impatience. 313 His look of importance showed that his day's work had not been in vain.
314 'Well?' he asked. 315 'What luck, Mr Holmes?'
316 'We have had a very busy day, and not entirely a wasted one,' my friend explained. 317 'We have seen both the retailers and also the wholesale manufacturers. 318 I can trace each of the busts now from the beginning.'
319 'The busts!' cried Lestrade. 320 'Well, well, you have your own methods, Mr Sherlock Holmes, and it is not for me to say a word against them, but I think I have done a better day's work than you. 321 I have identified the dead man.'
322 'You don't say so?'
323 'And found a cause for the crime.'
324 'Splendid!'
325 'We have an inspector who makes a speciality of Saffron Hill and the Italian quarter. 326 Well, this dead man had some Catholic emblem round his neck, and that, along with his colour, made me think he was from the South. 327 Inspector Hill knew him the moment he caught sight of him. 328 His name is Pietro Venucci, from Naples, and he is one of the greatest cut-throats in London. 329 He is connected with the Mafia, which, as you know, is a secret political society, enforcing its decrees by murder. 330 Now you see how the affair begins to clear up. 331 The other fellow is probably an Italian also, and a member of the Mafia. 332 He has broken the rules in some fashion. 333 Pietro is set upon his track. 334 Probably the photograph we found in his pocket is the man himself, so that he may not knife the wrong person. 335 He dogs the fellow, he sees him enter a house, he waits outside for him, and in the scuffle receives his own death-wound. 336 How is that, Mr Sherlock Holmes?'
337 Holmes clapped his hands approvingly.
338 'Excellent, Lestrade, excellent!' he cried. 339 'But I didn't quite follow your explanation of the destruction of the busts.'
340 'The busts! 341 You never can get those busts out of your head. 342 After all, that is nothing; petty larceny, six months at the most. 343 It is the murder that we are really investigating, and I tell you that I am gathering all the threads into my hands.'
344 'And the next stage?'
345 'Is a very simple one. 346 I shall go down with Hill to the Italian quarter, find the man whose photograph we have got, and arrest him on the charge of murder. 347 Will you come with us?'
348 'I think not. 349 I fancy we can attain our end in a simpler way. 350 I can't say for certain, because it all depends - well, it all depends upon a factor which is completely outside our control. 351 But I have great hopes - in fact, the betting is exactly two to one - that if you will come with us tonight I shall be able to help you to lay him by the heels.'
352 'In the Italian quarter?'
353 'No; I fancy Chiswick is an address which is more likely to find him. 354 If you will come with me to Chiswick tonight, Lestrade, I'll promise to go to the Italian quarter with you to-morrow, and no harm will be done by the delay. 355 And now I think that a few hours' sleep would do us all good, for I do not propose to leave before eleven o'clock, and it is unlikely that we shall be back before morning. 356 You'll dine with us, Lestrade, and then you are welcome to the sofa until it is time for us to start. 357 In the meantime, Watson, I should be glad if you would ring for an express messenger, for I have a letter to send, and it is important that it should go at once.'
358 Holmes spent the evening in rummaging among the files of the old daily papers with which one of our lumber-rooms was packed. 359 When at last he descended it was with triumph in his eyes, but he said nothing to either of us as to the result of his researches. 360 For my own part, I had followed step by step the methods by which he had traced the various windings of this complex case, and, though I could not yet perceive the goal which we would reach, I understood clearly that Holmes expected this grotesque criminal to make an attempt upon the two remaining busts, one of which, I remembered, was at Chiswick. 361 No doubt the object of our journey was to catch him in the very act, and I could not but admire the cunning with which my friend had inserted the wrong clue in the evening paper so as to give the fellow the idea that he could continue his scheme with impunity. 362 I was not surprised when Holmes suggested that I should take my revolver with me. 363 He had himself picked up the loaded hunting-crop which was his favourite weapon.
364 A four-wheeler was at the door at eleven, and in it we drove to a spot at the other side of Hammersmith Bridge. 365 Here the cabman was directed to wait. 366 A short walk brought us to a secluded road fringed with pleasant houses, each standing in its own grounds. 367 In the light of a street lamp we read 'Laburnum Villa' upon the gate-post of one of them. 368 The occupants had evidently retired to rest, for all was dark save for a fanlight over the hall door, which shed a single blurred circle on to the garden path. 369 The wooden fence which separated the grounds from the road threw a dense black shadow upon the inner side, and here it was that we crouched.
370 'I fear that you'll have a long time to wait,' Holmes whispered. 371 'We may thank our stars that it is not raining. 372 I don't think we can even venture to smoke to pass the time. 373 However, it's a two to one chance that we get something to pay us for our trouble.'
374 It proved, however, that our vigil was not to be so long as Holmes had led us to fear, and it ended in a very sudden and singular fashion. 375 In an instant, without the least sound to warn us of his coming, the garden gate swung open, and a lithe, dark figure, as swift and active as an ape, rushed up the garden path. 376 We saw it whisk past the light thrown from over the door and disappear against the black shadow of the house. 377 There was a long pause, during which we held our breath, and then a very gentle creaking sound came to our ears. 378 The window was being opened. 379 The noise ceased, and again there was a long silence. 380 The fellow was making his way into the house. 381 We saw the sudden flash of a dark lantern inside the room. 382 What he sought was evidently not there, for again we saw the flash through another blind, and then through another.
383 'Let us get to the open window. 384 We will nab him as he climbs out,' Lestrade whispered.
385 But before we could move the man had emerged again. 386 As he came out into the glimmering patch of light we saw that he carried something white under his arm. 387 He looked stealthily all round him. 388 The silence of the deserted street reassured him. 389 Turning his back upon us, he laid down his burden, and the next instant there was the sound of a sharp tap, followed by a clatter and rattle. 390 The man was so intent upon what he was doing that he never heard our steps as we stole across the grass plot. 391 With the bound of a tiger Holmes was on his back, and an instant later Lestrade and I had him by either wrist, and the handcuffs had been fastened. 392 As we turned him over I saw his hideous, sallow face, with writhing, furious features glaring up at us, and I knew that it was indeed the man of the photograph whom we had secured.
393 But it was not our prisoner to whom Holmes was giving his attention. 394 Squatted on the doorstep, he was engaged in most carefully examining that which the man had brought from the house. 395 It was a bust of Napoleon like the one which we had seen that morning, and it had been broken into similar fragments. 396 Carefully Holmes held each separate shard to the light, but in no way did it differ from any other shattered piece of plaster. 397 He had just completed his examination, when the hall lights flew up, the door opened and the owner of the house, a jovial, rotund figure in shirt and trousers, presented himself.
398 'Mr Josiah Brown, I suppose?' said Holmes.
399 'Yes, sir; and you no doubt are Mr Sherlock Holmes? 400 I had the note which you sent by the express messenger, and I did exactly what you told me. 401 We locked every door in the inside and awaited developments. 402 Well, I'm very glad to see that you have got the rascal. 403 I hope, gentlemen, that you will come in and have some refreshment.'
404 However, Lestrade was anxious to get his man into safe quarters, so within a few minutes our cab had been summoned and we were all four upon our way to London. 405 Not a word would our captive say; but he glared at us from the shadow of his matted hair, and once, when my hand seemed within his reach, he snapped at it like a hungry wolf. 406 We stayed long enough at the police-station to learn that a search of his clothing revealed nothing save shillings and a long sheath knife, the handle of which bore copious traces of recent blood.
407 'That's all right,' said Lestrade, as we parted. 408 'Hill knows all these gentry, and he will give a name to him. 409 You'll find that my theory of the Mafia will work out all right. 410 But I'm sure I am exceedingly obliged to you, Mr Holmes, for the workmanlike way in which you laid hands upon him. 411 I don't quite understand it all yet.'
412 'I fear it is rather too late an hour for explanations,' said Holmes. 413 'Besides, there are one or two details which are not finished off, and it is one of those cases which are worth working out to the very end. 414 If you will come round once more to my rooms at six o'clock to-morrow I think I shall he able to show you that even now you have not grasped the entire meaning of this business, which presents some features which make it absolutely original in the history of crime. 415 If ever I permit you to chronicle any more of my little problems, Watson, I foresee that you will enliven your pages by an account of the singular adventure of the Napoleonic busts.'

416 When we met again next evening, Lestrade was furnished with much information concerning our prisoner. 417 His name, it appeared, was Beppo, second name unknown. 418 He was a well-known ne'er-do-well among the Italian colony. 419 He had once been a skilful sculptor and had earned an honest living, but he had taken to evil courses, and had twice already been in gaol - once for a petty theft and once, as we had already heard, for stabbing a fellow-countryman. 420 He could talk English perfectly well. 421 His reasons for destroying the busts were still unknown, and he refused to answer any questions upon the subject; but the police had discovered that these same busts might very well have been made by his own hands, since he was engaged in this class of work at the establishment of Gelder & Co. 422 To all this information, much of which we already knew, Holmes listened with polite attention; but I, who knew him so well, could clearly see that his thoughts were elsewhere, and I detected a mixture of mingled uneasiness and expectation beneath that mask which he was wont to assume. 423 At last he started in his chair and his eyes brightened. 424 There had been a ring at the bell. 425 A minute later we heard steps upon he stairs, and an elderly, red-faced man with grizzled side-whiskers was ushered in. 426 In his right hand he carried an old-fashioned carpet-bag, which he placed upon the table.
427 'Is Mr Sherlock Holmes here?'
428 My friend bowed and smiled 'Mr Sandeford, of Reading, I suppose?' said he.
429 'Yes, sir. 430 I fear that I am a little late; but the trains were awkward. 431 You wrote to me about a bust that is in my possession.'
432 'Exactly.'
433 'I have your letter here. 434 You said, "I desire to possess a copy of Devine's Napoleon and am prepared to pay you ten pounds for the one which is in your possession." 435 Is that right?'
436 'Certainly.'
437 'I was very much surprised at your letter, for I could not imagine how you knew that I owned such a thing.'
438 'Of course you must have been surprised, but the explanation is very simple. 439 Mr Harding, of Harding Brothers, said that they had sold you their last copy, and he gave me your address.'
440 'Oh, that was it, was it? 441 Did he tell you what I paid for it?'
442 'No, he did not.'
443 'Well, I am an honest man, though not a very rich one. 444 I only gave fifteen shillings for the bust, and I think you ought to know that before I take ten pounds from you.'
445 'I am sure the scruple does you honour, Mr Sandeford. 446 But I have named that price, so I intend to stick to it.'
447 'Well, it is very handsome of you, Mr Holmes. 448 I brought the bust up with me, as you asked me to do. 449 Here it is!' 450 He opened his bag, and at last we saw placed upon our table a complete specimen of that bust which we had already seen more than once in fragments.
451 Holmes took a paper from his pocket and laid a ten-pound note upon the table.
452 'You will kindly sign that paper, Mr Sandeford, in the presence of these witnesses. 453 It is simply to say that you transfer every possible right that you ever had in the bust to me. 454 I am a methodical man, you see, and you never know what turn events might take afterwards. 455 Thank you, Mr Sandeford; here is your money, and I wish you a very good evening.'
456 When our visitor had disappeared Sherlock Holmes's movements were such as to rivet our attention. 457 He began by taking a clean white cloth from a drawer and laying it over the table. 458 Then he placed his newly acquired bust in the centre of the cloth. 459 Finally he picked up his hunting-crop and struck Napoleon a sharp blow on the top of the head. 460 The figure broke into fragments, and Holmes bent eagerly over the shattered remains. 461 Next instant, with a loud shout of triumph, he held up one splinter, in which a round, dark object was fixed like a plum in a pudding.
462 'Gentlemen,' he cried, let me introduce you to the famous black pearl of the Borgias.'
463 Lestrade and I sat silent for a moment, and then, with a spontaneous impulse, we both broke out clapping as at the well-wrought crisis of a play. 464 A flush of colour sprang to Holmes's pale cheeks, and he bowed to us like the master dramatist who receives the homage of his audience. 465 It was at such moments that for an instant he ceased to be a reasoning machine and betrayed his human love for admiration and applause. 466 The same singularly proud and reserved nature which turned away with disdain from popular notoriety was capable of being moved to its depth by spontaneous wonder and praise from a friend.
467 'Yes, gentlemen,' said he, 'it is the most famous pearl now existing in the world, and it has been my good fortune, by a connected chain of inductive reasoning, to trace it from the Prince of Colonna's bedroom at the Dacre Hotel, where it was lost, to the interior of this, the last of the six busts of Napoleon which were manufactured by Gelder & Co., of Stepney. 468 You will remember, Lestrade, the sensation caused by the disappearance of this valuable jewel, and the vain efforts of the London police to recover it. 469 I was myself consulted upon the case; but I was unable to throw any light upon it. 470 Suspicion fell upon the maid of the Princess, who was an Italian, and it was proved that she had a brother in London, but we failed to trace any connection between them. 471 The maid's name was Lucretia Venucci, and there is no doubt in my mind that this Pietro who was murdered two nights ago was the brother. 472 I have been looking up the dates in the old files of the paper, and I find that the disappearance of the pearl was exactly two days before the arrest of Beppo for some crime of violence - an event which took place in the factory of Gelder & Co., at the very moment when these busts were being made. 473 Now you clearly see the sequence of events, though you see them, of course, in the inverse order to the way in which they presented themselves to me. 474 Beppo had the pearl in his possession. 475 He may have stolen it from Pietro, he may have been Pietro's confederate, he may have been the go-between of Pietro and his sister. 476 It is of no consequence to us which is the correct solution.
477 'The main fact is that he had the pearl, and at that moment, when it was on his person, he was pursued by the police. 478 He made for the factory in which he worked, and he knew that he had only a few minutes in which to conceal this enormously valuable prize, which would otherwise be found on him when he was searched. 479 Six plaster casts of Napoleon were drying in the passage. 480 One of them was still soft. 481 In an instant Beppo, a skilful workman, made a small hole in the wet plaster, dropped in the pearl, and with a few touches covered over the aperture once more. 482 It was an admirable hiding-place. 483 No one could possibly find it. 484 But Beppo was condemned to a year's imprisonment, and in the meanwhile his six busts were scattered over London. 485 He could not tell which contained his treasure. 486 Only by breaking them could he see. 487 Even shaking would tell him nothing for as the plaster was wet it was probable that the pearl would adhere to it - as, in fact, it has done. 488 Beppo did not despair, and he conducted his search with considerable ingenuity and perseverance. 489 Through a cousin who works with Gelder he found out the retail firms who had bought the busts. 490 He managed to find employment with Morse Hudson, and in that way tracked down three of them. 491 The pearl was not there. 492 Then with the help of some Italian employee, he succeeded in finding out where the other three busts had gone. 493 The first was at Harker's. 494 There he was dogged by his confederate, who held Beppo responsible for the loss of the pearl, and he stabbed him in the scuffle which followed.'
495 'If he was his confederate, why should he carry his photograph?' I asked.
496 'As a means of tracing him if he wished to inquire about him from any third person. 497 That was the obvious reason. 498 Well, after the murder I calculated that Beppo would probably hurry rather than delay his movements. 499 He would fear that the police would read his secret, and so hastened on before they should get ahead of him. 500 Of course, I could not say that he had not found the pearl in Harker's bust. 501 I had not even concluded for certain that it was the pearl; but it was evident to me that he was looking for something, since he carried the bust past the other houses in order to break it in the garden which had a lamp overlooking it. 502 Since Harker's bust was one in three, the chances were exactly as I told you - two to one against the pearl being inside it. 503 There remained two busts, and it was obvious that he would go for the London one first. 504 I warned the inmates of the house, so as to avoid a second tragedy, and we went down, with the happiest results. 505 By that time, of course, I knew for certain that it was the Borgia pearl that we were after. 506 The name of the murdered man linked the one event with the other. 507 There only remained a single bust - the Reading one - and the pearl must be there. 508 I bought it in your presence from the owner - and there it lies.'
509 We sat in silence for a moment.
510 'Well,' said Lestrade, 'I've seen you handle a good many cases, Mr Holmes, but I don't know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. 511 We're not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. 512 No, sir, we are damned proud of you, and if you come down tomorrow there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand.'
513 'Thank you!' said Holmes. 514 'Thank you!' and as he turned away it seemed to me that he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him. 515 A moment later he was the cold and practical thinker once more. 516 'Put the pearl in the safe, Watson,' said he, 'and get out the papers of the Conk-Singleton forgery case. 517 Goodbye, Lestrade. 518 If any little problem comes your way I shall be happy, if I can, to give you a hint or two as to its solution.'


   One word is enough
                  to find what you are looking for :


keyword
searched
in


Jump to reference:



in
verse


Most Searched keywords

KeywordSearched
dog70
brandy64
elementary63
june 14th62
Moriarty60
fingerprint57
art55
Violet44
Mycroft43
concur43
Most Found keywords

KeywordFound
thin3495
Holmes3029
red 2428
Will1778
able1701
ring1504
hand1459
Come1368
Time1325
side1311
Most Not Found keywords

KeywordFound
fingerprint0
concur0
flanagan0
Vermont0
long=suffering0
alaska0
Idaho0
Minnesota0
youyaku0
icily0

 

© arthur-conan-doyle.com