The Adventure Of The Bruce-partington Plans

In the third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow

fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thursday I

doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker

Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. The first day

Holmes had spent in cross-indexing his huge book of references.

The second and third had been patiently occupied upon a subject

which he had recently made his hobby--the
usic of the Middle

Ages. But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our

chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still

drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the window-

panes, my comrade's impatient and active nature could endure this

drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting-

room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping

the furniture, and chafing against inaction.

"Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?" he said.

I was aware that by anything of interest, Holmes meant anything

of criminal interest. There was the news of a revolution, of a

possible war, and of an impending change of government; but these

did not come within the horizon of my companion. I could see

nothing recorded in the shape of crime which was not commonplace

and futile. Holmes groaned and resumed his restless meanderings.

"The London criminal is certainly a dull fellow," said he in the

querulous voice of the sportsman whose game has failed him.

"Look out this window, Watson. See how the figures loom up, are

dimly seen, and then blend once more into the cloud-bank. The

thief or the murderer could roam London on such a day as the

tiger does the jungle, unseen until he pounces, and then evident

only to his victim."

"There have," said I, "been numerous petty thefts."

Holmes snorted his contempt.

"This great and sombre stage is set for something more worthy

than that," said he. "It is fortunate for this community that I

am not a criminal."

"It is, indeed!" said I heartily.

"Suppose that I were Brooks or Woodhouse, or any of the fifty men

who have good reason for taking my life, how long could I survive

against my own pursuit? A summons, a bogus appointment, and all

would be over. It is well they don't have days of fog in the

Latin countries--the countries of assassination. By Jove! here

comes something at last to break our dead monotony."

It was the maid with a telegram. Holmes tore it open and burst

out laughing.

"Well, well! What next?" said he. "Brother Mycroft is coming


"Why not?" I asked.

"Why not? It is as if you met a tram-car coming down a country

lane. Mycroft has his rails and he runs on them. His Pall Mall

lodgings, the Diogenes Club, Whitehall--that is his cycle. Once,

and only once, he has been here. What upheaval can possibly have

derailed him?"

"Does he not explain?"

Holmes handed me his brother's telegram.

Must see you over Cadogen West. Coming at once.


"Cadogen West? I have heard the name."

"It recalls nothing to my mind. But that Mycroft should break

out in this erratic fashion! A planet might as well leave its

orbit. By the way, do you know what Mycroft is?"

I had some vague recollection of an explanation at the time of

the Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

"You told me that he had some small office under the British


Holmes chuckled.

"I did not know you quite so well in those days. One has to be

discreet when one talks of high matters of state. You are right

in thinking that he under the British government. You would also

be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he IS the

British government."

"My dear Holmes!"

"I thought I might surprise you. Mycroft draws four hundred and

fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions of

any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the

most indispensable man in the country."

"But how?"

"Well, his position is unique. He has made it for himself.

There has never been anything like it before, nor will be again.

He has the tidiest and most orderly brain, with the greatest

capacity for storing facts, of any man living. The same great

powers which I have turned to the detection of crime he has used

for this particular business. The conclusions of every

department are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the

clearinghouse, which makes out the balance. All other men are

specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. We will suppose

that a minister needs information as to a point which involves

the Navy, India, Canada and the bimetallic question; he could get

his separate advices from various departments upon each, but only

Mycroft can focus them all, and say offhand how each factor would

affect the other. They began by using him as a short-cut, a

convenience; now he has made himself an essential. In that great

brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be handed out in

an instant. Again and again his word has decided the national

policy. He lives in it. He thinks of nothing else save when, as

an intellectual exercise, he unbends if I call upon him and ask

him to advise me on one of my little problems. But Jupiter is

descending to-day. What on earth can it mean? Who is Cadogan

West, and what is he to Mycroft?"

"I have it," I cried, and plunged among the litter of papers upon

the sofa. "Yes, yes, here he is, sure enough! Cadogen West was

the young man who was found dead on the Underground on Tuesday


Holmes sat up at attention, his pipe halfway to his lips.

"This must be serious, Watson. A death which has caused my

brother to alter his habits can be no ordinary one. What in the

world can he have to do with it? The case was featureless as I

remember it. The young man had apparently fallen out of the

train and killed himself. He had not been robbed, and there was

no particular reason to suspect violence. Is that not so?"

"There has been an inquest," said I, "and a good many fresh facts

have come out. Looked at more closely, I should certainly say

that it was a curious case."

"Judging by its effect upon my brother, I should think it must be

a most extraordinary one." He snuggled down in his armchair.

"Now, Watson, let us have the facts."

"The man's name was Arthur Cadogan West. He was twenty-seven

years of age, unmarried, and a clerk at Woolwich Arsenal."

"Government employ. Behold the link with Brother Mycroft!"

"He left Woolwich suddenly on Monday night. Was last seen by his

fiancee, Miss Violet Westbury, whom he left abruptly in the fog

about 7:30 that evening. There was no quarrel between them and

she can give no motive for his action. The next thing heard of

him was when his dead body was discovered by a plate-layer named

Mason, just outside Aldgate Station on the Underground system in



"The body was found at six on Tuesday morning. It was lying wide

of the metals upon the left hand of the track as one goes

eastward, at a point close to the station, where the line emerges

from the tunnel in which it runs. The head was badly crushed--an

injury which might well have been caused by a fall from the

train. The body could only have come on the line in that way.

Had it been carried down from any neighbouring street, it must

have passed the station barriers, where a collector is always

standing. This point seems absolutely certain."

"Very good. The case is definite enough. The man, dead or

alive, either fell or was precipitated from a train. So much is

clear to me. Continue."

"The trains which traverse the lines of rail beside which the

body was found are those which run from west to east, some being

purely Metropolitan, and some from Willesden and outlying

junctions. It can be stated for certain that this young man,

when he met his death, was travelling in this direction at some

late hour of the night, but at what point he entered the train it

is impossible to state."

"His ticket, of course, would show that."

"There was no ticket in his pockets."

"No ticket! Dear me, Watson, this is really very singular.

According to my experience it is not possible to reach the

platform of a Metropolitan train without exhibiting one's ticket.

Presumably, then, the young man had one. Was it taken from him

in order to conceal the station from which he came? It is

possible. Or did he drop it in the carriage? That is also

possible. But the point is of curious interest. I understand

that there was no sign of robbery?"

"Apparently not. There is a list here of his possessions. His

purse contained two pounds fifteen. He had also a check-book on

the Woolwich branch of the Capital and Counties Bank. Through

this his identity was established. There were also two dress-

circle tickets for the Woolwich Theatre, dated for that very

evening. Also a small packet of technical papers."

Holmes gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

"There we have it at last, Watson! British government--Woolwich.

Arsenal--technical papers--Brother Mycroft, the chain is

complete. But here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to speak for


A moment later the tall and portly form of Mycroft Holmes was

ushered into the room. Heavily built and massive, there was a

suggestion of uncouth physical inertia in the figure, but above

this unwieldy frame there was perched a head so masterful in its

brow, so alert in its steel-gray, deep-set eyes, so firm in its

lips, and so subtle in its play of expression, that after the

first glance one forgot the gross body and remembered only the

dominant mind.

At his heels came our old friend Lestrade, of Scotland Yard--thin

and austere. The gravity of both their faces foretold some

weighty quest. The detective shook hands without a word.

Mycroft Holmes struggled out of his overcoat and subsided into an


"A most annoying business, Sherlock," said he. "I extremely

dislike altering my habits, but the powers that be would take no

denial. In the present state of Siam it is most awkward that I

should be away from the office. But it is a real crisis. I have

never seen the Prime Minister so upset. As to the Admiralty--it

is buzzing like an overturned bee-hive. Have you read up the


"We have just done so. What were the technical papers?"

"Ah, there's the point! Fortunately, it has not come out. The

press would be furious if it did. The papers which this wretched

youth had in his pocket were the plans of the Bruce-Partington


Mycroft Holmes spoke with a solemnity which showed his sense of

the importance of the subject. His brother and I sat expectant.

"Surely you have heard of it? I thought everyone had heard of


"Only as a name."

"Its importance can hardly be exaggerated. It has been the most

jealously guarded of all government secrets. You may take it

from me that naval warfare becomes impossible withing the radius

of a Bruce-Partington's operation. Two years ago a very large

sum was smuggled through the Estimates and was expended in

acquiring a monopoly of the invention. Every effort has been

made to keep the secret. The plans, which are exceedingly

intricate, comprising some thirty separate patents, each

essential to the working of the whole, are kept in an elaborate

safe in a confidential office adjoining the arsenal, with

burglar-proof doors and windows. Under no conceivable

circumstances were the plans to be taken from the office. If the

chief constructor of the Navy desired to consult them, even he

was forced to go to the Woolwich office for the purpose. And yet

here we find them in the pocket of a dead junior clerk in the

heart of London. From an official point of view it's simply


"But you have recovered them?"

"No, Sherlock, no! That's the pinch. We have not. Ten papers

were taken from Woolwich. There were seven in the pocket of

Cadogan West. The three most essential are gone--stolen,

vanished. You must drop everything, Sherlock. Never mind your

usual petty puzzles of the police-court. It's a vital

international problem that you have to solve. Why did Cadogan

West take the papers, where are the missing ones, how did he die,

how came his body where it was found, how can the evil be set

right? Find an answer to all these questions, and you will have

done good service for your country."

"Why do you not solve it yourself, Mycroft? You can see as far

as I."

"Possibly, Sherlock. But it is a question of getting details.

Give me your details, and from an armchair I will return you an

excellent expert opinion. But to run here and run there, to

cross-question railway guards, and lie on my face with a lens to

my eye--it is not my metier. No, you are the one man who can

clear the matter up. If you have a fancy to see your name in the

next honours list--"

My friend smiled and shook his head.

"I play the game for the game's own sake," said he. "But the

problem certainly presents some points of interest, and I shall

be very pleased to look into it. Some more facts, please."

"I have jotted down the more essential ones upon this sheet of

paper, together with a few addresses which you will find of

service. The actual official guardian of the papers is the

famous government expert, Sir James Walter, whose decorations and

sub-titles fill two lines of a book of reference. He has grown

gray in the service, is a gentleman, a favoured guest in the most

exalted houses, and, above all, a man whose patriotism is beyond

suspicion. He is one of two who have a key of the safe. I may

add that the papers were undoubtedly in the office during working

hours on Monday, and that Sir James left for London about three

o'clock taking his key with him. He was at the house of Admiral

Sinclair at Barclay Square during the whole of the evening when

this incident occurred."

"Has the fact been verified?"

"Yes; his brother, Colonel Valentine Walter, has testified to his

departure from Woolwich, and Admiral Sinclair to his arrival in

London; so Sir James is no longer a direct factor in the


"Who was the other man with a key?"

"The senior clerk and draughtsman, Mr. Sidney Johnson. He is a

man of forty, married, with five children. He is a silent,

morose man, but he has, on the whole, an excellent record in the

public service. He is unpopular with his colleagues, but a hard

worker. According to his own account, corroborated only by the

word of his wife, he was at home the whole of Monday evening

after office hours, and his key has never left the watch-chain

upon which it hangs."

"Tell us about Cadogan West."

"He has been ten years in the service and has done good work. He

has the reputation of being hot-headed and imperious, but a

straight, honest man. We have nothing against him. He was next

Sidney Johnson in the office. His duties brought him into daily,

personal contact with the plans. No one else had the handling of


"Who locked up the plans that night?"

"Mr. Sidney Johnson, the senior clerk."

"Well, it is surely perfectly clear who took them away. They are

actually found upon the person of this junior clerk, Cadogan

West. That seems final, does it not?"

"It does, Sherlock, and yet it leaves so much unexplained. In

the first place, why did he take them?"

"I presume they were of value?"

"He could have got several thousands for them very easily."

"Can you suggest any possible motive for taking the papers to

London except to sell them?"

"No, I cannot."

"Then we must take that as our working hypothesis. Young West

took the papers. Now this could only be done by having a false


"Several false keys. He had to open the building and the room."

"He had, then, several false keys. He took the papers to London

to sell the secret, intending, no doubt, to have the plans

themselves back in the safe next morning before they were missed.

While in London on this treasonable mission he met his end."


"We will suppose that he was travelling back to Woolwich when he

was killed and thrown out of the compartment."

"Aldgate, where the body was found, is considerably past the

station London Bridge, which would be his route to Woolwich."

"Many circumstances could be imagined under which he would pass

London Bridge. There was someone in the carriage, for example,

with whom he was having an absorbing interview. This interview

led to a violent scene in which he lost his life. Possibly he

tried to leave the carriage, fell out on the line, and so met his

end. The other closed the door. There was a thick fog, and

nothing could be seen."

"No better explanation can be given with our present knowledge;

and yet consider, Sherlock, how much you leave untouched. We

will suppose, for argument's sake, that young Cadogan West HAD

determined to convey these papers to London. He would naturally

have made an appointment with the foreign agent and kept his

evening clear. Instead of that he took two tickets for the

theatre, escorted his fiancee halfway there, and then suddenly


"A blind," said Lestrade, who had sat listening with some

impatience to the conversation.

"A very singular one. That is objection No. 1. Objection No. 2:

We will suppose that he reaches London and sees the foreign

agent. He must bring back the papers before morning or the loss

will be discovered. He took away ten. Only seven were in his

pocket. What had become of the other three? He certainly would

not leave them of his own free will. Then, again, where is the

price of his treason? Once would have expected to find a large

sum of money in his pocket."

"It seems to me perfectly clear," said Lestrade. "I have no

doubt at all as to what occurred. He took the papers to sell

them. He saw the agent. They could not agree as to price. He

started home again, but the agent went with him. In the train

the agent murdered him, took the more essential papers, and threw

his body from the carriage. That would account for everything,

would it not?"

"Why had he no ticket?"

"The ticket would have shown which station was nearest the

agent's house. Therefore he took it from the murdered man's


"Good, Lestrade, very good," said Holmes. "Your theory holds

together. But if this is true, then the case is at an end. On

the one hand, the traitor is dead. On the other, the plans of

the Bruce-Partington submarine are presumably already on the

Continent. What is there for us to do?"

"To act, Sherlock--to act!" cried Mycroft, springing to his feet.

"All my instincts are against this explanation. Use your powers!

Go to the scene of the crime! See the people concerned! Leave

no stone unturned! In all your career you have never had so

great a chance of serving your country."

"Well, well!" said Holmes, shrugging his shoulders. "Come,

Watson! And you, Lestrade, could you favour us with your company

for an hour or two? We will begin our investigation by a visit

to Aldgate Station. Good-bye, Mycroft. I shall let you have a

report before evening, but I warn you in advance that you have

little to expect."

An hour later Holmes, Lestrade and I stood upon the Underground

railroad at the point where it emerges from the tunnel

immediately before Aldgate Station. A courteous red-faced old

gentleman represented the railway company.

"This is where the young man's body lay," said he, indicating a

spot about three feet from the metals. "It could not have fallen

from above, for these, as you see, are all blank walls.

Therefore, it could only have come from a train, and that train,

so far as we can trace it, must have passed about midnight on


"Have the carriages been examined for any sign of violence?"

"There are no such signs, and no ticket has been found."

"No record of a door being found open?"


"We have had some fresh evidence this morning," said Lestrade.

"A passenger who passed Aldgate in an ordinary Metropolitan train

about 11:40 on Monday night declares that he heard a heavy thud,

as of a body striking the line, just before the train reached the

station. There was dense fog, however, and nothing could be

seen. He made no report of it at the time. Why, whatever is the

matter with Mr. Holmes?"

My friend was standing with an expression of strained intensity

upon his face, staring at the railway metals where they curved

out of the tunnel. Aldgate is a junction, and there was a

network of points. On these his eager, questioning eyes were

fixed, and I saw on his keen, alert face that tightening of the

lips, that quiver of the nostrils, and concentration of the

heavy, tufted brows which I knew so well.

"Points," he muttered; "the points."

"What of it? What do you mean?"

"I suppose there are no great number of points on a system such

as this?"

"No; they are very few."

"And a curve, too. Points, and a curve. By Jove! if it were

only so."

"What is it, Mr. Holmes? Have you a clue?"

"An idea--an indication, no more. But the case certainly grows

in interest. Unique, perfectly unique, and yet why not? I do

not see any indications of bleeding on the line."

"There were hardly any."

"But I understand that there was a considerable wound."

"The bone was crushed, but there was no great external injury."

"And yet one would have expected some bleeding. Would it be

possible for me to inspect the train which contained the

passenger who heard the thud of a fall in the fog?"

"I fear not, Mr. Holmes. The train has been broken up before

now, and the carriages redistributed."

"I can assure you, Mr. Holmes," said Lestrade, "that every

carriage has been carefully examined. I saw to it myself."

It was one of my friend's most obvious weaknesses that he was

impatient with less alert intelligences than his own.

"Very likely," said he, turning away. "As it happens, it was not

the carriages which I desired to examine. Watson, we have done

all we can here. We need not trouble you any further, Mr.

Lestrade. I think our investigations must now carry us to


At London Bridge, Holmes wrote a telegram to his brother, which

he handed to me before dispatching it. It ran thus:

See some light in the darkness, but it may possibly flicker out.

Meanwhile, please send by messenger, to await return at Baker

Street, a complete list of all foreign spies or international

agents known to be in England, with full address.


"That should be helpful, Watson," he remarked as we took our

seats in the Woolwich train. "We certainly owe Brother Mycroft a

debt for having introduced us to what promises to be a really

very remarkable case."

His eager face still wore that expression of intense and high-

strung energy, which showed me that some novel and suggestive

circumstance had opened up a stimulating line of thought. See

the foxhound with hanging ears and drooping tail as it lolls

about the kennels, and compare it with the same hound as, with

gleaming eyes and straining muscles, it runs upon a breast-high

scent--such was the change in Holmes since the morning. He was a

different man from the limp and lounging figure in the mouse-

coloured dressing-gown who had prowled so restlessly only a few

hours before round the fog-girt room.

"There is material here. There is scope," said he. "I am dull

indeed not to have understood its possibilities."

"Even now they are dark to me."

"The end is dark to me also, but I have hold of one idea which

may lead us far. The man met his death elsewhere, and his body

was on the ROOF of a carriage."

"On the roof!"

"Remarkable, is it not? But consider the facts. Is it a

coincidence that it is found at the very point where the train

pitches and sways as it comes round on the points? Is not that

the place where an object upon the roof might be expected to fall

off? The points would affect no object inside the train. Either

the body fell from the roof, or a very curious coincidence has

occurred. But now consider the question of the blood. Of

course, there was no bleeding on the line if the body had bled

elsewhere. Each fact is suggestive in itself. Together they

have a cumulative force."

"And the ticket, too!" I cried.

"Exactly. We could not explain the absence of a ticket. This

would explain it. Everything fits together."

"But suppose it were so, we are still as far as ever from

unravelling the mystery of his death. Indeed, it becomes not

simpler but stranger."

"Perhaps," said Holmes, thoughtfully, "perhaps." He relapsed

into a silent reverie, which lasted until the slow train drew up

at last in Woolwich Station. There he called a cab and drew

Mycroft's paper from his pocket.

"We have quite a little round of afternoon calls to make," said

he. "I think that Sir James Walter claims our first attention."

The house of the famous official was a fine villa with green

lawns stretching down to the Thames. As we reached it the fog

was lifting, and a thin, watery sunshine was breaking through. A

butler answered our ring.

"Sir James, sir!" said he with solemn face. "Sir James died this


"Good heavens!" cried Holmes in amazement. "How did he die?"

"Perhaps you would care to step in, sir, and see his brother,

Colonel Valentine?"

"Yes, we had best do so."

We were ushered into a dim-lit drawing-room, where an instant

later we were joined by a very tall, handsome, light-beared man

of fifty, the younger brother of the dead scientist. His wild

eyes, stained cheeks, and unkempt hair all spoke of the sudden

blow which had fallen upon the household. He was hardly

articulate as he spoke of it.

"It was this horrible scandal," said he. "My brother, Sir James,

was a man of very sensitive honour, and he could not survive such

an affair. It broke his heart. He was always so proud of the

efficiency of his department, and this was a crushing blow."

"We had hoped that he might have given us some indications which

would have helped us to clear the matter up."

"I assure you that it was all a mystery to him as it is to you

and to all of us. He had already put all his knowledge at the

disposal of the police. Naturally he had no doubt that Cadogan

West was guilty. But all the rest was inconceivable."

"You cannot throw any new light upon the affair?"

"I know nothing myself save what I have read or heard. I have no

desire to be discourteous, but you can understand, Mr. Holmes,

that we are much disturbed at present, and I must ask you to

hasten this interview to an end."

"This is indeed an unexpected development," said my friend when

we had regained the cab. "I wonder if the death was natural, or

whether the poor old fellow killed himself! If the latter, may

it be taken as some sign of self-reproach for duty neglected? We

must leave that question to the future. Now we shall turn to the

Cadogan Wests."

A small but well-kept house in the outskirts of the town

sheltered the bereaved mother. The old lady was too dazed with

grief to be of any use to us, but at her side was a white-faced

young lady, who introduced herself as Miss Violet Westbury, the

fiancee of the dead man, and the last to see him upon that fatal


"I cannot explain it, Mr. Holmes," she said. "I have not shut an

eye since the tragedy, thinking, thinking, thinking, night and

day, what the true meaning of it can be. Arthur was the most

single-minded, chivalrous, patriotic man upon earth. He would

have cut his right hand off before he would sell a State secret

confided to his keeping. It is absurd, impossible, preposterous

to anyone who knew him."

"But the facts, Miss Westbury?"

"Yes, yes; I admit I cannot explain them."

"Was he in any want of money?"

"No; his needs were very simple and his salary ample. He had

saved a few hundreds, and we were to marry at the New Year."

"No signs of any mental excitement? Come, Miss Westbury, be

absolutely frank with us."

The quick eye of my companion had noted some change in her

manner. She coloured and hesitated.

"Yes," she said at last, "I had a feeling that there was

something on his mind."

"For long?"

"Only for the last week or so. He was thoughtful and worried.

Once I pressed him about it. He admitted that there was

something, and that it was concerned with his official life. 'It

is too serious for me to speak about, even to you,' said he. I

could get nothing more."

Holmes looked grave.

"Go on, Miss Westbury. Even if it seems to tell against him, go

on. We cannot say what it may lead to."

"Indeed, I have nothing more to tell. Once or twice it seemed to

me that he was on the point of telling me something. He spoke

one evening of the importance of the secret, and I have some

recollection that he said that no doubt foreign spies would pay a

great deal to have it."

My friend's face grew graver still.

"Anything else?"

"He said that we were slack about such matters--that it would be

easy for a traitor to get the plans."

"Was it only recently that he made such remarks?"

"Yes, quite recently."

"Now tell us of that last evening."

"We were to go to the theatre. The fog was so thick that a cab

was useless. We walked, and our way took us close to the office.

Suddenly he darted away into the fog."

"Without a word?"

"He gave an exclamation; that was all. I waited but he never

returned. Then I walked home. Next morning, after the office

opened, they came to inquire. About twelve o'clock we heard the

terrible news. Oh, Mr. Holmes, if you could only, only save his

honour! It was so much to him."

Holmes shook his head sadly.

"Come, Watson," said he, "our ways lie elsewhere. Our next

station must be the office from which the papers were taken.

"It was black enough before against this young man, but our

inquiries make it blacker," he remarked as the cab lumbered off.

"His coming marriage gives a motive for the crime. He naturally

wanted money. The idea was in his head, since he spoke about it.

He nearly made the girl an accomplice in the treason by telling

her his plans. It is all very bad."

"But surely, Holmes, character goes for something? Then, again,

why should he leave the girl in the street and dart away to

commit a felony?"

"Exactly! There are certainly objections. But it is a

formidable case which they have to meet."

Mr. Sidney Johnson, the senior clerk, met us at the office and

received us with that respect which my companion's card always

commanded. He was a thin, gruff, bespectacled man of middle age,

his cheeks haggard, and his hands twitching from the nervous

strain to which he had been subjected.

"It is bad, Mr. Holmes, very bad! Have you heard of the death of

the chief?"

"We have just come from his house."

"The place is disorganized. The chief dead, Cadogan West dead,

our papers stolen. And yet, when we closed our door on Monday

evening, we were as efficient an office as any in the government

service. Good God, it's dreadful to think of! That West, of all

men, should have done such a thing!"

"You are sure of his guilt, then?"

"I can see no other way out of it. And yet I would have trusted

him as I trust myself."

"At what hour was the office closed on Monday?"

"At five."

"Did you close it?"

"I am always the last man out."

"Where were the plans?"

"In that safe. I put them there myself."

"Is there no watchman to the building?"

"There is, but he has other departments to look after as well.

He is an old soldier and a most trustworthy man. He saw nothing

that evening. Of course the fog was very thick."

"Suppose that Cadogan West wished to make his way into the

building after hours; he would need three keys, would he not,

before he could reach the papers?"

"Yes, he would. The key of the outer door, the key of the

office, and the key of the safe."

"Only Sir James Walter and you had those keys?"

"I had no keys of the doors--only of the safe."

"Was Sir James a man who was orderly in his habits?"

"Yes, I think he was. I know that so far as those three keys are

concerned he kept them on the same ring. I have often seen them


"And that ring went with him to London?"

"He said so."

"And your key never left your possession?"


"Then West, if he is the culprit, must have had a duplicate. And

yet none was found upon his body. One other point: if a clerk

in this office desired to sell the plans, would it not be simply

to copy the plans for himself than to take the originals, as was

actually done?"

"It would take considerable technical knowledge to copy the plans

in an effective way."

"But I suppose either Sir James, or you, or West has that

technical knowledge?"

"No doubt we had, but I beg you won't try to drag me into the

matter, Mr. Holmes. What is the use of our speculating in this

way when the original plans were actually found on West?"

"Well, it is certainly singular that he should run the risk of

taking originals if he could safely have taken copies, which

would have equally served his turn."

"Singular, no doubt--and yet he did so."

"Every inquiry in this case reveals something inexplicable. Now

there are three papers still missing. They are, as I understand,

the vital ones."

"Yes, that is so."

"Do you mean to say that anyone holding these three papers, and

without the seven others, could construct a Bruce-Partington


"I reported to that effect to the Admiralty. But to-day I have

been over the drawings again, and I am not so sure of it. The

double valves with the automatic self-adjusting slots are drawn

in one of the papers which have been returned. Until the

foreigners had invented that for themselves they could not make

the boat. Of course they might soon get over the difficulty."

"But the three missing drawings are the most important?"


"I think, with your permission, I will now take a stroll round

the premises. I do not recall any other question which I desired

to ask."

He examined the lock of the safe, the door of the room, and

finally the iron shutters of the window. It was only when we

were on the lawn outside that his interest was strongly excited.

There was a laurel bush outside the window, and several of the

branches bore signs of having been twisted or snapped. He

examined them carefully with his lens, and then some dim and

vague marks upon the earth beneath. Finally he asked the chief

clerk to close the iron shutters, and he pointed out to me that

they hardly met in the centre, and that it would be possible for

anyone outside to see what was going on within the room.

"The indications are ruined by three days' delay. They may mean

something or nothing. Well, Watson, I do not think that Woolwich

can help us further. It is a small crop which we have gathered.

Let us see if we can do better in London."

Yet we added one more sheaf to our harvest before we left

Woolwich Station. The clerk in the ticket office was able to say

with confidence that he saw Cadogan West--whom he knew well by

sight--upon the Monday night, and that he went to London by the

8:15 to London Bridge. He was alone and took a single third-

class ticket. The clerk was struck at the time by his excited

and nervous manner. So shaky was he that he could hardly pick up

his change, and the clerk had helped him with it. A reference to

the timetable showed that the 8:15 was the first train which it

was possible for West to take after he had left the lady about


"Let us reconstruct, Watson," said Holmes after half an hour of

silence. "I am not aware that in all our joint researches we

have ever had a case which was more difficult to get at. Every

fresh advance which we make only reveals a fresh ridge beyond.

And yet we have surely made some appreciable progress.

"The effect of our inquiries at Woolwich has in the main been

against young Cadogan West; but the indications at the window

would lend themselves to a more favourable hypothesis. Let us

suppose, for example, that he had been approached by some foreign

agent. It might have been done under such pledges as would have

prevented him from speaking of it, and yet would have affected

his thoughts in the direction indicated by his remarks to his

fiancee. Very good. We will now suppose that as he went to the

theatre with the young lady he suddenly, in the fog, caught a

glimpse of this same agent going in the direction of the office.

He was an impetuous man, quick in his decisions. Everything gave

way to his duty. He followed the man, reached the window, saw

the abstraction of the documents, and pursued the thief. In this

way we get over the objection that no one would take originals

when he could make copies. This outsider had to take originals.

So far it holds together."

"What is the next step?"

"Then we come into difficulties. One would imagine that under

such circumstances the first act of young Cadogan West would be

to seize the villain and raise the alarm. Why did he not do so?

Could it have been an official superior who took the papers?

That would explain West's conduct. Or could the chief have given

West the slip in the fog, and West started at once to London to

head him off from his own rooms, presuming that he knew where the

rooms were? The call must have been very pressing, since he left

his girl standing in the fog and made no effort to communicate

with her. Our scent runs cold here, and there is a vast gap

between either hypothesis and the laying of West's body, with

seven papers in his pocket, on the roof of a Metropolitan train.

My instinct now is to work form the other end. If Mycroft has

given us the list of addresses we may be able to pick our man and

follow two tracks instead of one."

Surely enough, a note awaited us at Baker Street. A government

messenger had brought it post-haste. Holmes glanced at it and

threw it over to me.

There are numerous small fry, but few who would handle so big an

affair. The only men worth considering are Adolph Mayer, of 13

Great George Street, Westminster; Louis La Rothiere, of Campden

Mansions, Notting Hill; and Hugo Oberstein, 13 Caulfield Gardens,

Kensington. The latter was known to be in town on Monday and is

now reported as having left. Glad to hear you have seen some

light. The Cabinet awaits your final report with the utmost

anxiety. Urgent representations have arrived from the very

highest quarter. The whole force of the State is at your back if

you should need it.


"I'm afraid," said Holmes, smiling, "that all the queen's horses

and all the queen's men cannot avail in this matter." He had

spread out his big map of London and leaned eagerly over it.

"Well, well," said he presently with an exclamation of

satisfaction, "things are turning a little in our direction at

last. Why, Watson, I do honestly believe that we are going to

pull it off, after all." He slapped me on the shoulder with a

sudden burst of hilarity. "I am going out now. It is only a

reconnaissance. I will do nothing serious without my trusted

comrade and biographer at my elbow. Do you stay here, and the

odds are that you will see me again in an hour or two. If time

hangs heavy get foolscap and a pen, and begin your narrative of

how we saved the State."

I felt some reflection of his elation in my own mind, for I knew

well that he would not depart so far from his usual austerity of

demeanour unless there was good cause for exultation. All the

long November evening I waited, filled with impatience for his

return. At last, shortly after nine o'clock, there arrived a

messenger with a note:

Am dining at Goldini's Restaurant, Gloucester Road, Kensington.

Please come at once and join me there. Bring with you a jemmy, a

dark lantern, a chisel, and a revolver.


It was a nice equipment for a respectable citizen to carry

through the dim, fog-draped streets. I stowed them all

discreetly away in my overcoat and drove straight to the address

given. There sat my friend at a little round table near the door

of the garish Italian restaurant.

"Have you had something to eat? Then join me in a coffee and

curacao. Try one of the proprietor's cigars. They are less

poisonous than one would expect. Have you the tools?"

"They are here, in my overcoat."

"Excellent. Let me give you a short sketch of what I have done,

with some indication of what we are about to do. Now it must be

evident to you, Watson, that this young man's body was PLACED on

the roof of the train. That was clear from the instant that I

determined the fact that it was from the roof, and not from a

carriage, that he had fallen."

"Could it not have been dropped from a bridge?"

"I should say it was impossible. If you examine the roofs you

will find that they are slightly rounded, and there is no railing

round them. Therefore, we can say for certain that young Cadogan

West was placed on it."

"How could he be placed there?"

"That was the question which we had to answer. There is only one

possible way. You are aware that the Underground runs clear of

tunnels at some points in the West End. I had a vague memory

that as I have travelled by it I have occasionally seen windows

just above my head. Now, suppose that a train halted under such

a window, would there be any difficulty in laying a body upon the


"It seems most improbable."

"We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other

contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be

the truth. Here all other contingencies HAVE failed. When I

found that the leading international agent, who had just left

London, lived in a row of houses which abutted upon the

Underground, I was so pleased that you were a little astonished

at my sudden frivolity."

"Oh, that was it, was it?"

"Yes, that was it. Mr. Hugo Oberstein, of 13 Caulfield Gardens,

had become my objective. I began my operations at Gloucester

Road Station, where a very helpful official walked with me along

the track and allowed me to satisfy myself not only that the

back-stair windows of Caulfield Gardens open on the line but the

even more essential fact that, owing to the intersection of one

of the larger railways, the Underground trains are frequently

held motionless for some minutes at that very spot."

"Splendid, Holmes! You have got it!"

"So far--so far, Watson. We advance, but the goal is afar.

Well, having seen the back of Caulfield Gardens, I visited the

front and satisfied myself that the bird was indeed flown. It is

a considerable house, unfurnished, so far as I could judge, in

the upper rooms. Oberstein lived there with a single valet, who

was probably a confederate entirely in his confidence. We must

bear in mind that Oberstein has gone to the Continent to dispose

of his booty, but not with any idea of flight; for he had no

reason to fear a warrant, and the idea of an amateur domiciliary

visit would certainly never occur to him. Yet that is precisely

what we are about to make."

"Could we not get a warrant and legalize it?"

"Hardly on the evidence."

"What can we hope to do?"

"We cannot tell what correspondence may be there."

"I don't like it, Holmes."

"My dear fellow, you shall keep watch in the street. I'll do the

criminal part. It's not a time to stick at trifles. Think of

Mycroft's note, of the Admiralty, the Cabinet, the exalted person

who waits for news. We are bound to go."

My answer was to rise from the table.

"You are right, Holmes. We are bound to go."

He sprang up and shook me by the hand.

"I knew you would not shrink at the last," said he, and for a

moment I saw something in his eyes which was nearer to tenderness

than I had ever seen. The next instant he was his masterful,

practical self once more.

"It is nearly half a mile, but there is no hurry. Let us walk,"

said he. "Don't drop the instruments, I beg. Your arrest as a

suspicious character would be a most unfortunate complication."

Caulfield Gardens was one of those lines of flat-faced pillared,

and porticoed houses which are so prominent a product of the

middle Victorian epoch in the West End of London. Next door

there appeared to be a children's party, for the merry buzz of

young voices and the clatter of a piano resounded through the

night. The fog still hung about and screened us with its

friendly shade. Holmes had lit his lantern and flashed it upon

the massive door.

"This is a serious proposition," said he. "It is certainly

bolted as well as locked. We would do better in the area. There

is an excellent archway down yonder in case a too zealous

policeman should intrude. Give me a hand, Watson, and I'll do

the same for you."

A minute later we were both in the area. Hardly had we reached

the dark shadows before the step of the policeman was heard in

the fog above. As its soft rhythm died away, Holmes set to work

upon the lower door. I saw him stoop and strain until with a

sharp crash it flew open. We sprang through into the dark

passage, closing the area door behind us. Holmes let the way up

the curving, uncarpeted stair. His little fan of yellow light

shone upon a low window.

"Here we are, Watson--this must be the one." He threw it open,

and as he did so there was a low, harsh murmur, growing steadily

into a loud roar as a train dashed past us in the darkness.

Holmes swept his light along the window-sill. It was thickly

coated with soot from the passing engines, but the black surface

was blurred and rubbed in places.

"You can see where they rested the body. Halloa, Watson! what is

this? There can be no doubt that it is a blood mark." He was

pointing to faint discolourations along the woodwork of the

window. "Here it is on the stone of the stair also. The

demonstration is complete. Let us stay here until a train


We had not long to wait. The very next train roared from the

tunnel as before, but slowed in the open, and then, with a

creaking of brakes, pulled up immediately beneath us. It was not

four feet from the window-ledge to the roof of the carriages.

Holmes softly closed the window.

"So far we are justified," said he. "What do you think of it,


"A masterpiece. You have never risen to a greater height."

"I cannot agree with you there. From the moment that I conceived

the idea of the body being upon the roof, which surely was not a

very abstruse one, all the rest was inevitable. If it were not

for the grave interests involved the affair up to this point

would be insignificant. Our difficulties are still before us.

But perhaps we may find something here which may help us."

We had ascended the kitchen stair and entered the suite of rooms

upon the first floor. One was a dining-room, severely furnished

and containing nothing of interest. A second was a bedroom,

which also drew blank. The remaining room appeared more

promising, and my companion settled down to a systematic

examination. It was littered with books and papers, and was

evidently used as a study. Swiftly and methodically Holmes

turned over the contents of drawer after drawer and cupboard

after cupboard, but no gleam of success came to brighten his

austere face. At the end of an hour he was no further than when

he started.

"The cunning dog has covered his tracks," said he. "He has left

nothing to incriminate him. His dangerous correspondence has

been destroyed or removed. This is our last chance."

It was a small tin cash-box which stood upon the writing-desk.

Holmes pried it open with his chisel. Several rolls of paper

were within, covered with figures and calculations, without any

note to show to what they referred. The recurring words, "water

pressure" and "pressure to the square inch" suggested some

possible relation to a submarine. Holmes tossed them all

impatiently aside. There only remained an envelope with some

small newspaper slips inside it. He shook them out on the table,

and at once I saw by his eager face that his hopes had been


"What's this, Watson? Eh? What's this? Record of a series of

messages in the advertisements of a paper. Daily Telegraph agony

column by the print and paper. Right-hand top corner of a page.

No dates--but messages arrange themselves. This must be the


"Hoped to hear sooner. Terms agreed to. Write fully to address

given on card.


"Next comes:

"Too complex for description. Must have full report, Stuff

awaits you when goods delivered.


"Then comes:

"Matter presses. Must withdraw offer unless contract completed.

Make appointment by letter. Will confirm by advertisement.



"Monday night after nine. Two taps. Only ourselves. Do not be

so suspicious. Payment in hard cash when goods delivered.


"A fairly complete record, Watson! If we could only get at the

man at the other end!" He sat lost in thought, tapping his

fingers on the table. Finally he sprang to his feet.

"Well, perhaps it won't be so difficult, after all. There is

nothing more to be done here, Watson. I think we might drive

round to the offices of the Daily Telegraph, and so bring a good

day's work to a conclusion."

Mycroft Holmes and Lestrade had come round by appointment after

breakfast next day and Sherlock Holmes had recounted to them our

proceedings of the day before. The professional shook his head

over our confessed burglary.

"We can't do these things in the force, Mr. Holmes," said he.

"No wonder you get results that are beyond us. But some of these

days you'll go too far, and you'll find yourself and your friend

in trouble."

"For England, home and beauty--eh, Watson? Martyrs on the altar

of our country. But what do you think of it, Mycroft?"

"Excellent, Sherlock! Admirable! But what use will you make of


Holmes picked up the Daily Telegraph which lay upon the table.

"Have you seen Pierrot's advertisement to-day?"

"What? Another one?"

"Yes, here it is:

"To-night. Same hour. Same place. Two taps. Most vitally

important. Your own safety at stake.


"By George!" cried Lestrade. "If he answers that we've got him!"

"That was my idea when I put it in. I think if you could both

make it convenient to come with us about eight o'clock to

Caulfield Gardens we might possibly get a little nearer to a


One of the most remarkable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes was

his power of throwing his brain out of action and switching all

his thoughts on to lighter things whenever he had convinced

himself that he could no longer work to advantage. I remember

that during the whole of that memorable day he lost himself in a

monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic Motets of

Lassus. For my own part I had none of this power of detachment,

and the day, in consequence, appeared to be interminable. The

great national importance of the issue, the suspense in high

quarters, the direct nature of the experiment which we were

trying--all combined to work upon my nerve. It was a relief to

me when at last, after a light dinner, we set out upon our

expedition. Lestrade and Mycroft met us by appointment at the

outside of Gloucester Road Station. The area door of Oberstein's

house had been left open the night before, and it was necessary

for me, as Mycroft Holmes absolutely and indignantly declined to

climb the railings, to pass in and open the hall door. By nine

o'clock we were all seated in the study, waiting patently for our


An hour passed and yet another. When eleven struck, the measured

beat of the great church clock seemed to sound the dirge of our

hopes. Lestrade and Mycroft were fidgeting in their seats and

looking twice a minute at their watches. Holmes sat silent and

composed, his eyelids half shut, but every sense on the alert.

He raised his head with a sudden jerk.

"He is coming," said he.

There had been a furtive step past the door. Now it returned.

We heard a shuffling sound outside, and then two sharp taps with

the knocker. Holmes rose, motioning us to remain seated. The gas

in the hall was a mere point of light. He opened the outer door,

and then as a dark figure slipped past him he closed and fastened

it. "This way!" we heard him say, and a moment later our man

stood before us. Holmes had followed him closely, and as the man

turned with a cry of surprise and alarm he caught him by the

collar and threw him back into the room. Before our prisoner had

recovered his balance the door was shut and Holmes standing with

his back against it. The man glared round him, staggered, and

fell senseless upon the floor. With the shock, his broad-brimmed

hat flew from his head, his cravat slipped sown from his lips,

and there were the long light beard and the soft, handsome

delicate features of Colonel Valentine Walter.

Holmes gave a whistle of surprise.

"You can write me down an ass this time, Watson," said he. "This

was not the bird that I was looking for."

"Who is he?" asked Mycroft eagerly.

"The younger brother of the late Sir James Walter, the head of

the Submarine Department. Yes, yes; I see the fall of the cards.

He is coming to. I think that you had best leave his examination

to me."

We had carried the prostrate body to the sofa. Now our prisoner

sat up, looked round him with a horror-stricken face, and passed

his hand over his forehead, like one who cannot believe his own


"What is this?" he asked. "I came here to visit Mr. Oberstein."

"Everything is known, Colonel Walter," said Holmes. "How an

English gentleman could behave in such a manner is beyond my

comprehension. But your whole correspondence and relations with

Oberstein are within our knowledge. So also are the

circumstances connected with the death of young Cadogan West.

Let me advise you to gain at least the small credit for

repentance and confession, since there are still some details

which we can only learn from your lips."

The man groaned and sank his face in his hands. We waited, but

he was silent.

"I can assure you," said Holmes, "that every essential is already

known. We know that you were pressed for money; that you took an

impress of the keys which your brother held; and that you entered

into a correspondence with Oberstein, who answered your letters

through the advertisement columns of the Daily Telegraph. We are

aware that you went down to the office in the fog on Monday

night, but that you were seen and followed by young Cadogan West,

who had probably some previous reason to suspect you. He saw

your theft, but could not give the alarm, as it was just possible

that you were taking the papers to your brother in London.

Leaving all his private concerns, like the good citizen that he

was, he followed you closely in the fog and kept at your heels

until you reached this very house. There he intervened, and then

it was, Colonel Walter, that to treason you added the more

terrible crime of murder."

"I did not! I did not! Before God I swear that I did not!"

cried our wretched prisoner.

"Tell us, then, how Cadogan West met his end before you laid him

upon the roof of a railway carriage."

"I will. I swear to you that I will. I did the rest. I confess

it. It was just as you say. A Stock Exchange debt had to be

paid. I needed the money badly. Oberstein offered me five

thousand. It was to save myself from ruin. But as to murder, I

am as innocent as you."

"What happened, then?"

"He had his suspicions before, and he followed me as you

describe. I never knew it until I was at the very door. It was

thick fog, and one could not see three yards. I had given two

taps and Oberstein had come to the door. The young man rushed up

and demanded to know what we were about to do with the papers.

Oberstein had a short life-preserver. He always carried it with

him. As West forced his way after us into the house Oberstein

struck him on the head. The blow was a fatal one. He was dead

within five minutes. There he lay in the hall, and we were at

our wit's end what to do. Then Oberstein had this idea about the

trains which halted under his back window. But first he examined

the papers which I had brought. He said that three of them were

essential, and that he must keep them. 'You cannot keep them,'

said I. 'There will be a dreadful row at Woolwich if they are

not returned.' 'I must keep them,' said he, 'for they are so

technical that it is impossible in the time to make copies.'

'Then they must all go back together to-night,' said I. He

thought for a little, and then he cried out that he had it.

'Three I will keep,' said he. 'The others we will stuff into the

pocket of this young man. When he is found the whole business

will assuredly be put to his account.' I could see no other way

out of it, so we did as he suggested. We waited half an hour at

the window before a train stopped. It was so thick that nothing

could be seen, and we had no difficulty in lowering West's body

on to the train. That was the end of the matter so far as I was


"And your brother?"

"He said nothing, but he had caught me once with his keys, and I

think that he suspected. I read in his eyes that he suspected.

As you know, he never held up his head again."

There was silence in the room. It was broken by Mycroft Holmes.

"Can you not make reparation? It would ease your conscience, and

possibly your punishment."

"What reparation can I make?"

"Where is Oberstein with the papers?"

"I do not know."

"Did he give you no address?"

"He said that letters to the Hotel du Louvre, Paris, would

eventually reach him."

"Then reparation is still within your power," said Sherlock


"I will do anything I can. I owe this fellow no particular good-

will. He has been my ruin and my downfall."

"Here are paper and pen. Sit at this desk and write to my

dictation. Direct the envelope to the address given. That is

right. Now the letter:

"Dear Sir:

"With regard to our transaction, you will no doubt have observed

by now that one essential detail is missing. I have a tracing

which will make it complete. This has involved me in extra

trouble, however, and I must ask you for a further advance of

five hundred pounds. I will not trust it to the post, nor will I

take anything but gold or notes. I would come to you abroad, but

it would excite remark if I left the country at present.

Therefore I shall expect to meet you in the smoking-room of the

Charing Cross Hotel at noon on Saturday. Remember that only

English notes, or gold, will be taken.

"That will do very well. I shall be very much surprised if it

does not fetch our man."

And it did! It is a matter of history--that secret history of a

nation which is often so much more intimate and interesting than

its public chronicles--that Oberstein, eager to complete the coup

of his lifetime, came to the lure and was safely engulfed for

fifteen years in a British prison. In his trunk were found the

invaluable Bruce-Partington plans, which he had put up for

auction in all the naval centres of Europe.

Colonel Walter died in prison towards the end of the second year

of his sentence. As to Holmes, he returned refreshed to his

monograph upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus, which has since

been printed for private circulation, and is said by experts to

be the last word upon the subject. Some weeks afterwards I

learned incidentally that my friend spent a day at Windsor,

whence he returned with a remarkably fine emerald tie-pin. When

I asked him if he had bought it, he answered that it was a

present from a certain gracious lady in whose interests he had

once been fortunate enough to carry out a small commission. He

said no more; but I fancy that I could guess at that lady's

august name, and I have little doubt that the emerald pin will

forever recall to my friend's memory the adventure of the Bruce-

Partington plans.