The Adventure Of The Priory School

We have had some dramatic entrances and exits upon our small stage at

Baker Street, but I cannot recollect anything more sudden and startling

than the first appearance of Thorneycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc.

His card, which seemed too small to carry the weight of his academic

distinctions, preceded him by a few seconds, and then he entered

himself--so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very

nt of self-possession and solidity. And yet his first action,

when the door had closed behind him, was to stagger against the table,

whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic

figure prostrate and insensible upon our bearskin hearth-rug.

We had sprung to our feet, and for a few moments we stared in silent

amazement at this ponderous piece of wreckage, which told of some sudden

and fatal storm far out on the ocean of life. Then Holmes hurried with

a cushion for his head, and I with brandy for his lips. The heavy, white

face was seamed with lines of trouble, the hanging pouches under the

closed eyes were leaden in colour, the loose mouth drooped dolorously at

the corners, the rolling chins were unshaven. Collar and shirt bore

the grime of a long journey, and the hair bristled unkempt from the

well-shaped head. It was a sorely stricken man who lay before us.

"What is it, Watson?" asked Holmes.

"Absolute exhaustion--possibly mere hunger and fatigue," said I, with my

finger on the thready pulse, where the stream of life trickled thin and


"Return ticket from Mackleton, in the north of England," said Holmes,

drawing it from the watch-pocket. "It is not twelve o'clock yet. He has

certainly been an early starter."

The puckered eyelids had begun to quiver, and now a pair of vacant gray

eyes looked up at us. An instant later the man had scrambled on to his

feet, his face crimson with shame.

"Forgive this weakness, Mr. Holmes, I have been a little overwrought.

Thank you, if I might have a glass of milk and a biscuit, I have no

doubt that I should be better. I came personally, Mr. Holmes, in order

to insure that you would return with me. I feared that no telegram would

convince you of the absolute urgency of the case."

"When you are quite restored----"

"I am quite well again. I cannot imagine how I came to be so weak. I

wish you, Mr. Holmes, to come to Mackleton with me by the next train."

My friend shook his head.

"My colleague, Dr. Watson, could tell you that we are very busy at

present. I am retained in this case of the Ferrers Documents, and the

Abergavenny murder is coming up for trial. Only a very important issue

could call me from London at present."

"Important!" Our visitor threw up his hands. "Have you heard nothing of

the abduction of the only son of the Duke of Holdernesse?"

"What! the late Cabinet Minister?"

"Exactly. We had tried to keep it out of the papers, but there was some

rumor in the GLOBE last night. I thought it might have reached your


Holmes shot out his long, thin arm and picked out Volume "H" in his

encyclopaedia of reference.

"'Holdernesse, 6th Duke, K.G., P.C.'--half the alphabet! 'Baron

Beverley, Earl of Carston'--dear me, what a list! 'Lord Lieutenant

of Hallamshire since 1900. Married Edith, daughter of Sir Charles

Appledore, 1888. Heir and only child, Lord Saltire. Owns about two

hundred and fifty thousand acres. Minerals in Lancashire and Wales.

Address: Carlton House Terrace; Holdernesse Hall, Hallamshire; Carston

Castle, Bangor, Wales. Lord of the Admiralty, 1872; Chief Secretary of

State for----' Well, well, this man is certainly one of the greatest

subjects of the Crown!"

"The greatest and perhaps the wealthiest. I am aware, Mr. Holmes, that

you take a very high line in professional matters, and that you are

prepared to work for the work's sake. I may tell you, however, that his

Grace has already intimated that a check for five thousand pounds will

be handed over to the person who can tell him where his son is, and

another thousand to him who can name the man or men who have taken him."

"It is a princely offer," said Holmes. "Watson, I think that we shall

accompany Dr. Huxtable back to the north of England. And now, Dr.

Huxtable, when you have consumed that milk, you will kindly tell me what

has happened, when it happened, how it happened, and, finally, what Dr.

Thorneycroft Huxtable, of the Priory School, near Mackleton, has to do

with the matter, and why he comes three days after an event--the state

of your chin gives the date--to ask for my humble services."

Our visitor had consumed his milk and biscuits. The light had come back

to his eyes and the colour to his cheeks, as he set himself with great

vigour and lucidity to explain the situation.

"I must inform you, gentlemen, that the Priory is a preparatory school,

of which I am the founder and principal. HUXTABLE'S SIDELIGHTS ON HORACE

may possibly recall my name to your memories. The Priory is, without

exception, the best and most select preparatory school in England. Lord

Leverstoke, the Earl of Blackwater, Sir Cathcart Soames--they all have

intrusted their sons to me. But I felt that my school had reached its

zenith when, weeks ago, the Duke of Holdernesse sent Mr. James Wilder,

his secretary, with intimation that young Lord Saltire, ten years old,

his only son and heir, was about to be committed to my charge. Little

did I think that this would be the prelude to the most crushing

misfortune of my life.

"On May 1st the boy arrived, that being the beginning of the summer

term. He was a charming youth, and he soon fell into our ways. I may

tell you--I trust that I am not indiscreet, but half-confidences are

absurd in such a case--that he was not entirely happy at home. It is an

open secret that the Duke's married life had not been a peaceful one,

and the matter had ended in a separation by mutual consent, the Duchess

taking up her residence in the south of France. This had occurred very

shortly before, and the boy's sympathies are known to have been strongly

with his mother. He moped after her departure from Holdernesse Hall,

and it was for this reason that the Duke desired to send him to my

establishment. In a fortnight the boy was quite at home with us and was

apparently absolutely happy.

"He was last seen on the night of May 13th--that is, the night of last

Monday. His room was on the second floor and was approached through

another larger room, in which two boys were sleeping. These boys saw and

heard nothing, so that it is certain that young Saltire did not pass out

that way. His window was open, and there is a stout ivy plant leading to

the ground. We could trace no footmarks below, but it is sure that this

is the only possible exit.

"His absence was discovered at seven o'clock on Tuesday morning. His bed

had been slept in. He had dressed himself fully, before going off, in

his usual school suit of black Eton jacket and dark gray trousers. There

were no signs that anyone had entered the room, and it is quite certain

that anything in the nature of cries or ones struggle would have been

heard, since Caunter, the elder boy in the inner room, is a very light


"When Lord Saltire's disappearance was discovered, I at once called a

roll of the whole establishment--boys, masters, and servants. It was

then that we ascertained that Lord Saltire had not been alone in his

flight. Heidegger, the German master, was missing. His room was on the

second floor, at the farther end of the building, facing the same way

as Lord Saltire's. His bed had also been slept in, but he had apparently

gone away partly dressed, since his shirt and socks were lying on the

floor. He had undoubtedly let himself down by the ivy, for we could see

the marks of his feet where he had landed on the lawn. His bicycle was

kept in a small shed beside this lawn, and it also was gone.

"He had been with me for two years, and came with the best references,

but he was a silent, morose man, not very popular either with masters

or boys. No trace could be found of the fugitives, and now, on Thursday

morning, we are as ignorant as we were on Tuesday. Inquiry was, of

course, made at once at Holdernesse Hall. It is only a few miles away,

and we imagined that, in some sudden attack of homesickness, he had

gone back to his father, but nothing had been heard of him. The Duke is

greatly agitated, and, as to me, you have seen yourselves the state of

nervous prostration to which the suspense and the responsibility have

reduced me. Mr. Holmes, if ever you put forward your full powers, I

implore you to do so now, for never in your life could you have a case

which is more worthy of them."

Sherlock Holmes had listened with the utmost intentness to the statement

of the unhappy schoolmaster. His drawn brows and the deep furrow

between them showed that he needed no exhortation to concentrate all

his attention upon a problem which, apart from the tremendous interests

involved must appeal so directly to his love of the complex and the

unusual. He now drew out his notebook and jotted down one or two


"You have been very remiss in not coming to me sooner," said he,

severely. "You start me on my investigation with a very serious

handicap. It is inconceivable, for example, that this ivy and this lawn

would have yielded nothing to an expert observer."

"I am not to blame, Mr. Holmes. His Grace was extremely desirous to

avoid all public scandal. He was afraid of his family unhappiness being

dragged before the world. He has a deep horror of anything of the kind."

"But there has been some official investigation?"

"Yes, sir, and it has proved most disappointing. An apparent clue was

at once obtained, since a boy and a young man were reported to have been

seen leaving a neighbouring station by an early train. Only last night

we had news that the couple had been hunted down in Liverpool, and they

prove to have no connection whatever with the matter in hand. Then it

was that in my despair and disappointment, after a sleepless night, I

came straight to you by the early train."

"I suppose the local investigation was relaxed while this false clue was

being followed up?"

"It was entirely dropped."

"So that three days have been wasted. The affair has been most

deplorably handled."

"I feel it and admit it."

"And yet the problem should be capable of ultimate solution. I shall be

very happy to look into it. Have you been able to trace any connection

between the missing boy and this German master?"

"None at all."

"Was he in the master's class?"

"No, he never exchanged a word with him, so far as I know."

"That is certainly very singular. Had the boy a bicycle?"


"Was any other bicycle missing?"


"Is that certain?"


"Well, now, you do not mean to seriously suggest that this German rode

off upon a bicycle in the dead of the night, bearing the boy in his


"Certainly not."

"Then what is the theory in your mind?"

"The bicycle may have been a blind. It may have been hidden somewhere,

and the pair gone off on foot."

"Quite so, but it seems rather an absurd blind, does it not? Were there

other bicycles in this shed?"


"Would he not have hidden a couple, had he desired to give the idea that

they had gone off upon them?"

"I suppose he would."

"Of course he would. The blind theory won't do. But the incident is an

admirable starting-point for an investigation. After all, a bicycle

is not an easy thing to conceal or to destroy. One other question. Did

anyone call to see the boy on the day before he disappeared?"


"Did he get any letters?"

"Yes, one letter."

"From whom?"

"From his father."

"Do you open the boys' letters?"


"How do you know it was from the father?"

"The coat of arms was on the envelope, and it was addressed in the

Duke's peculiar stiff hand. Besides, the Duke remembers having written."

"When had he a letter before that?"

"Not for several days."

"Had he ever one from France?"

"No, never.

"You see the point of my questions, of course. Either the boy was

carried off by force or he went of his own free will. In the latter

case, you would expect that some prompting from outside would be needed

to make so young a lad do such a thing. If he has had no visitors, that

prompting must have come in letters; hence I try to find out who were

his correspondents."

"I fear I cannot help you much. His only correspondent, so far as I

know, was his own father."

"Who wrote to him on the very day of his disappearance. Were the

relations between father and son very friendly?"

"His Grace is never very friendly with anyone. He is completely immersed

in large public questions, and is rather inaccessible to all ordinary

emotions. But he was always kind to the boy in his own way."

"But the sympathies of the latter were with the mother?"


"Did he say so?"


"The Duke, then?"

"Good heaven, no!"

"Then how could you know?"

"I have had some confidential talks with Mr. James Wilder, his Graces

secretary. It was he who gave me the information about Lord Saltire's


"I see. By the way, that last letter of the Dukes--was it found in the

boy's room after he was gone?"

"No, he had taken it with him. I think, Mr. Holmes, it is time that we

were leaving for Euston."

"I will order a four-wheeler. In a quarter of an hour, we shall be at

your service. If you are telegraphing home, Mr. Huxtable, it would

be well to allow the people in your neighbourhood to imagine that

the inquiry is still going on in Liverpool, or wherever else that red

herring led your pack. In the meantime I will do a little quiet work at

your own doors, and perhaps the scent is not so cold but that two old

hounds like Watson and myself may get a sniff of it."

That evening found us in the cold, bracing atmosphere of the Peak

country, in which Dr. Huxtable's famous school is situated. It was

already dark when we reached it. A card was lying on the hall table,

and the butler whispered something to his master, who turned to us with

agitation in every heavy feature.

"The Duke is here," said he. "The Duke and Mr. Wilder are in the study.

Come, gentlemen, and I will introduce you."

I was, of course, familiar with the pictures of the famous statesman,

but the man himself was very different from his representation. He was a

tall and stately person, scrupulously dressed, with a drawn, thin face,

and a nose which was grotesquely curved and long. His complexion was

of a dead pallor, which was more startling by contrast with a long,

dwindling beard of vivid red, which flowed down over his white waistcoat

with his watch-chain gleaming through its fringe. Such was the stately

presence who looked stonily at us from the centre of Dr. Huxtable's

hearthrug. Beside him stood a very young man, whom I understood to

be Wilder, the private secretary. He was small, nervous, alert with

intelligent light-blue eyes and mobile features. It was he who at once,

in an incisive and positive tone, opened the conversation.

"I called this morning, Dr. Huxtable, too late to prevent you from

starting for London. I learned that your object was to invite Mr.

Sherlock Holmes to undertake the conduct of this case. His Grace is

surprised, Dr. Huxtable, that you should have taken such a step without

consulting him."

"When I learned that the police had failed----"

"His Grace is by no means convinced that the police have failed."

"But surely, Mr. Wilder----"

"You are well aware, Dr. Huxtable, that his Grace is particularly

anxious to avoid all public scandal. He prefers to take as few people as

possible into his confidence."

"The matter can be easily remedied," said the brow-beaten doctor; "Mr.

Sherlock Holmes can return to London by the morning train."

"Hardly that, Doctor, hardly that," said Holmes, in his blandest voice.

"This northern air is invigorating and pleasant, so I propose to spend a

few days upon your moors, and to occupy my mind as best I may. Whether

I have the shelter of your roof or of the village inn is, of course, for

you to decide."

I could see that the unfortunate doctor was in the last stage of

indecision, from which he was rescued by the deep, sonorous voice of the

red-bearded Duke, which boomed out like a dinner-gong.

"I agree with Mr. Wilder, Dr. Huxtable, that you would have done wisely

to consult me. But since Mr. Holmes has already been taken into your

confidence, it would indeed be absurd that we should not avail ourselves

of his services. Far from going to the inn, Mr. Holmes, I should be

pleased if you would come and stay with me at Holdernesse Hall."

"I thank your Grace. For the purposes of my investigation, I think that

it would be wiser for me to remain at the scene of the mystery."

"Just as you like, Mr. Holmes. Any information which Mr. Wilder or I can

give you is, of course, at your disposal."

"It will probably be necessary for me to see you at the Hall," said

Holmes. "I would only ask you now, sir, whether you have formed any

explanation in your own mind as to the mysterious disappearance of your


"No sir I have not."

"Excuse me if I allude to that which is painful to you, but I have no

alternative. Do you think that the Duchess had anything to do with the


The great minister showed perceptible hesitation.

"I do not think so," he said, at last.

"The other most obvious explanation is that the child has been kidnapped

for the purpose of levying ransom. You have not had any demand of the


"No, sir."

"One more question, your Grace. I understand that you wrote to your son

upon the day when this incident occurred."

"No, I wrote upon the day before."

"Exactly. But he received it on that day?"


"Was there anything in your letter which might have unbalanced him or

induced him to take such a step?"

"No, sir, certainly not."

"Did you post that letter yourself?"

The nobleman's reply was interrupted by his secretary, who broke in with

some heat.

"His Grace is not in the habit of posting letters himself," said he.

"This letter was laid with others upon the study table, and I myself put

them in the post-bag."

"You are sure this one was among them?"

"Yes, I observed it."

"How many letters did your Grace write that day?"

"Twenty or thirty. I have a large correspondence. But surely this is

somewhat irrelevant?"

"Not entirely," said Holmes.

"For my own part," the Duke continued, "I have advised the police to

turn their attention to the south of France. I have already said that I

do not believe that the Duchess would encourage so monstrous an action,

but the lad had the most wrong-headed opinions, and it is possible that

he may have fled to her, aided and abetted by this German. I think, Dr.

Huxtable, that we will now return to the Hall."

I could see that there were other questions which Holmes would have

wished to put, but the nobleman's abrupt manner showed that the

interview was at an end. It was evident that to his intensely

aristocratic nature this discussion of his intimate family affairs

with a stranger was most abhorrent, and that he feared lest every

fresh question would throw a fiercer light into the discreetly shadowed

corners of his ducal history.

When the nobleman and his secretary had left, my friend flung himself at

once with characteristic eagerness into the investigation.

The boy's chamber was carefully examined, and yielded nothing save the

absolute conviction that it was only through the window that he could

have escaped. The German master's room and effects gave no further clue.

In his case a trailer of ivy had given way under his weight, and we saw

by the light of a lantern the mark on the lawn where his heels had come

down. That one dint in the short, green grass was the only material

witness left of this inexplicable nocturnal flight.

Sherlock Holmes left the house alone, and only returned after eleven.

He had obtained a large ordnance map of the neighbourhood, and this

he brought into my room, where he laid it out on the bed, and, having

balanced the lamp in the middle of it, he began to smoke over it, and

occasionally to point out objects of interest with the reeking amber of

his pipe.

"This case grows upon me, Watson," said he. "There are decidedly some

points of interest in connection with it. In this early stage, I want

you to realize those geographical features which may have a good deal to

do with our investigation.

"Look at this map. This dark square is the Priory School. I'll put a pin

in it. Now, this line is the main road. You see that it runs east and

west past the school, and you see also that there is no side road for

a mile either way. If these two folk passed away by road, it was THIS



"By a singular and happy chance, we are able to some extent to check

what passed along this road during the night in question. At this point,

where my pipe is now resting, a county constable was on duty from twelve

to six. It is, as you perceive, the first cross-road on the east side.

This man declares that he was not absent from his post for an instant,

and he is positive that neither boy nor man could have gone that way

unseen. I have spoken with this policeman to-night and he appears to me

to be a perfectly reliable person. That blocks this end. We have now to

deal with the other. There is an inn here, the Red Bull, the landlady

of which was ill. She had sent to Mackleton for a doctor, but he did not

arrive until morning, being absent at another case. The people at the

inn were alert all night, awaiting his coming, and one or other of them

seems to have continually had an eye upon the road. They declare that no

one passed. If their evidence is good, then we are fortunate enough to

be able to block the west, and also to be able to say that the fugitives

did NOT use the road at all."

"But the bicycle?" I objected.

"Quite so. We will come to the bicycle presently. To continue our

reasoning: if these people did not go by the road, they must have

traversed the country to the north of the house or to the south of the

house. That is certain. Let us weigh the one against the other. On the

south of the house is, as you perceive, a large district of arable land,

cut up into small fields, with stone walls between them. There, I admit

that a bicycle is impossible. We can dismiss the idea. We turn to the

country on the north. Here there lies a grove of trees, marked as the

'Ragged Shaw,' and on the farther side stretches a great rolling moor,

Lower Gill Moor, extending for ten miles and sloping gradually upward.

Here, at one side of this wilderness, is Holdernesse Hall, ten miles by

road, but only six across the moor. It is a peculiarly desolate plain. A

few moor farmers have small holdings, where they rear sheep and cattle.

Except these, the plover and the curlew are the only inhabitants until

you come to the Chesterfield high road. There is a church there,

you see, a few cottages, and an inn. Beyond that the hills become

precipitous. Surely it is here to the north that our quest must lie."

"But the bicycle?" I persisted.

"Well, well!" said Holmes, impatiently. "A good cyclist does not need a

high road. The moor is intersected with paths, and the moon was at the

full. Halloa! what is this?"

There was an agitated knock at the door, and an instant afterwards Dr.

Huxtable was in the room. In his hand he held a blue cricket-cap with a

white chevron on the peak.

"At last we have a clue!" he cried. "Thank heaven! at last we are on the

dear boy's track! It is his cap."

"Where was it found?"

"In the van of the gipsies who camped on the moor. They left on Tuesday.

To-day the police traced them down and examined their caravan. This was


"How do they account for it?"

"They shuffled and lied--said that they found it on the moor on Tuesday

morning. They know where he is, the rascals! Thank goodness, they are

all safe under lock and key. Either the fear of the law or the Duke's

purse will certainly get out of them all that they know."

"So far, so good," said Holmes, when the doctor had at last left the

room. "It at least bears out the theory that it is on the side of the

Lower Gill Moor that we must hope for results. The police have really

done nothing locally, save the arrest of these gipsies. Look here,

Watson! There is a watercourse across the moor. You see it marked here

in the map. In some parts it widens into a morass. This is particularly

so in the region between Holdernesse Hall and the school. It is vain to

look elsewhere for tracks in this dry weather, but at THAT point there

is certainly a chance of some record being left. I will call you early

to-morrow morning, and you and I will try if we can throw some little

light upon the mystery."

The day was just breaking when I woke to find the long, thin form of

Holmes by my bedside. He was fully dressed, and had apparently already

been out.

"I have done the lawn and the bicycle shed," said, he. "I have also had

a rumble through the Ragged Shaw. Now, Watson, there is cocoa ready in

the next room. I must beg you to hurry, for we have a great day before


His eyes shone, and his cheek was flushed with the exhilaration of the

master workman who sees his work lie ready before him. A very different

Holmes, this active, alert man, from the introspective and pallid

dreamer of Baker Street. I felt, as I looked upon that supple, figure,

alive with nervous energy, that it was indeed a strenuous day that

awaited us.

And yet it opened in the blackest disappointment. With high hopes we

struck across the peaty, russet moor, intersected with a thousand sheep

paths, until we came to the broad, light-green belt which marked the

morass between us and Holdernesse. Certainly, if the lad had gone

homeward, he must have passed this, and he could not pass it without

leaving his traces. But no sign of him or the German could be seen. With

a darkening face my friend strode along the margin, eagerly observant

of every muddy stain upon the mossy surface. Sheep-marks there were

in profusion, and at one place, some miles down, cows had left their

tracks. Nothing more.

"Check number one," said Holmes, looking gloomily over the rolling

expanse of the moor. "There is another morass down yonder, and a narrow

neck between. Halloa! halloa! halloa! what have we here?"

We had come on a small black ribbon of pathway. In the middle of it,

clearly marked on the sodden soil, was the track of a bicycle.

"Hurrah!" I cried. "We have it."

But Holmes was shaking his head, and his face was puzzled and expectant

rather than joyous.

"A bicycle, certainly, but not THE bicycle," said he. "I am familiar

with forty-two different impressions left by tires. This, as you

perceive, is a Dunlop, with a patch upon the outer cover. Heidegger's

tires were Palmer's, leaving longitudinal stripes. Aveling, the

mathematical master, was sure upon the point. Therefore, it is not

Heidegger's track."

"The boy's, then?"

"Possibly, if we could prove a bicycle to have been in his possession.

But this we have utterly failed to do. This track, as you perceive, was

made by a rider who was going from the direction of the school."

"Or towards it?"

"No, no, my dear Watson. The more deeply sunk impression is, of course,

the hind wheel, upon which the weight rests. You perceive several places

where it has passed across and obliterated the more shallow mark of the

front one. It was undoubtedly heading away from the school. It may or

may not be connected with our inquiry, but we will follow it backwards

before we go any farther."

We did so, and at the end of a few hundred yards lost the tracks as

we emerged from the boggy portion of the moor. Following the path

backwards, we picked out another spot, where a spring trickled across

it. Here, once again, was the mark of the bicycle, though nearly

obliterated by the hoofs of cows. After that there was no sign, but

the path ran right on into Ragged Shaw, the wood which backed on to the

school. From this wood the cycle must have emerged. Holmes sat down on

a boulder and rested his chin in his hands. I had smoked two cigarettes

before he moved.

"Well, well," said he, at last. "It is, of course, possible that a

cunning man might change the tires of his bicycle in order to leave

unfamiliar tracks. A criminal who was capable of such a thought is a man

whom I should be proud to do business with. We will leave this question

undecided and hark back to our morass again, for we have left a good

deal unexplored."

We continued our systematic survey of the edge of the sodden portion

of the moor, and soon our perseverance was gloriously rewarded. Right

across the lower part of the bog lay a miry path. Holmes gave a cry

of delight as he approached it. An impression like a fine bundle of

telegraph wires ran down the centre of it. It was the Palmer tires.

"Here is Herr Heidegger, sure enough!" cried Holmes, exultantly. "My

reasoning seems to have been pretty sound, Watson."

"I congratulate you."

"But we have a long way still to go. Kindly walk clear of the path. Now

let us follow the trail. I fear that it will not lead very far."

We found, however, as we advanced that this portion of the moor is

intersected with soft patches, and, though we frequently lost sight of

the track, we always succeeded in picking it up once more.

"Do you observe," said Holmes, "that the rider is now undoubtedly

forcing the pace? There can be no doubt of it. Look at this impression,

where you get both tires clear. The one is as deep as the other.

That can only mean that the rider is throwing his weight on to the

handle-bar, as a man does when he is sprinting. By Jove! he has had a


There was a broad, irregular smudge covering some yards of the track.

Then there were a few footmarks, and the tire reappeared once more.

"A side-slip," I suggested.

Holmes held up a crumpled branch of flowering gorse. To my horror I

perceived that the yellow blossoms were all dabbled with crimson. On the

path, too, and among the heather were dark stains of clotted blood.

"Bad!" said Holmes. "Bad! Stand clear, Watson! Not an unnecessary

footstep! What do I read here? He fell wounded--he stood up--he

remounted--he proceeded. But there is no other track. Cattle on this

side path. He was surely not gored by a bull? Impossible! But I see no

traces of anyone else. We must push on, Watson. Surely, with stains as

well as the track to guide us, he cannot escape us now."

Our search was not a very long one. The tracks of the tire began to

curve fantastically upon the wet and shining path. Suddenly, as I

looked ahead, the gleam of metal caught my eye from amid the thick

gorse-bushes. Out of them we dragged a bicycle, Palmer-tired, one pedal

bent, and the whole front of it horribly smeared and slobbered with

blood. On the other side of the bushes a shoe was projecting. We

ran round, and there lay the unfortunate rider. He was a tall man,

full-bearded, with spectacles, one glass of which had been knocked out.

The cause of his death was a frightful blow upon the head, which had

crushed in part of his skull. That he could have gone on after receiving

such an injury said much for the vitality and courage of the man. He

wore shoes, but no socks, and his open coat disclosed a nightshirt

beneath it. It was undoubtedly the German master.

Holmes turned the body over reverently, and examined it with great

attention. He then sat in deep thought for a time, and I could see

by his ruffled brow that this grim discovery had not, in his opinion,

advanced us much in our inquiry.

"It is a little difficult to know what to do, Watson," said he, at last.

"My own inclinations are to push this inquiry on, for we have already

lost so much time that we cannot afford to waste another hour. On the

other hand, we are bound to inform the police of the discovery, and to

see that this poor fellow's body is looked after."

"I could take a note back."

"But I need your company and assistance. Wait a bit! There is a fellow

cutting peat up yonder. Bring him over here, and he will guide the


I brought the peasant across, and Holmes dispatched the frightened man

with a note to Dr. Huxtable.

"Now, Watson," said he, "we have picked up two clues this morning. One

is the bicycle with the Palmer tire, and we see what that has led to.

The other is the bicycle with the patched Dunlop. Before we start to

investigate that, let us try to realize what we do know, so as to make

the most of it, and to separate the essential from the accidental."

"First of all, I wish to impress upon you that the boy certainly left of

his own free-will. He got down from his window and he went off, either

alone or with someone. That is sure."

I assented.

"Well, now, let us turn to this unfortunate German master. The boy was

fully dressed when he fled. Therefore, he foresaw what he would do.

But the German went without his socks. He certainly acted on very short



"Why did he go? Because, from his bedroom window, he saw the flight of

the boy, because he wished to overtake him and bring him back. He seized

his bicycle, pursued the lad, and in pursuing him met his death."

"So it would seem."

"Now I come to the critical part of my argument. The natural action of

a man in pursuing a little boy would be to run after him. He would know

that he could overtake him. But the German does not do so. He turns to

his bicycle. I am told that he was an excellent cyclist. He would not do

this, if he did not see that the boy had some swift means of escape."

"The other bicycle."

"Let us continue our reconstruction. He meets his death five miles

from the school--not by a bullet, mark you, which even a lad might

conceivably discharge, but by a savage blow dealt by a vigorous arm.

The lad, then, HAD a companion in his flight. And the flight was a swift

one, since it took five miles before an expert cyclist could overtake

them. Yet we survey the ground round the scene of the tragedy. What do

we find? A few cattle-tracks, nothing more. I took a wide sweep round,

and there is no path within fifty yards. Another cyclist could have

had nothing to do with the actual murder, nor were there any human


"Holmes," I cried, "this is impossible."

"Admirable!" he said. "A most illuminating remark. It IS impossible as I

state it, and therefore I must in some respect have stated it wrong. Yet

you saw for yourself. Can you suggest any fallacy?"

"He could not have fractured his skull in a fall?"

"In a morass, Watson?"

"I am at my wit's end."

"Tut, tut, we have solved some worse problems. At least we have plenty

of material, if we can only use it. Come, then, and, having exhausted

the Palmer, let us see what the Dunlop with the patched cover has to

offer us."

We picked up the track and followed it onward for some distance, but

soon the moor rose into a long, heather-tufted curve, and we left the

watercourse behind us. No further help from tracks could be hoped for.

At the spot where we saw the last of the Dunlop tire it might equally

have led to Holdernesse Hall, the stately towers of which rose some

miles to our left, or to a low, gray village which lay in front of us

and marked the position of the Chesterfield high road.

As we approached the forbidding and squalid inn, with the sign of a

game-cock above the door, Holmes gave a sudden groan, and clutched me

by the shoulder to save himself from falling. He had had one of those

violent strains of the ankle which leave a man helpless. With difficulty

he limped up to the door, where a squat, dark, elderly man was smoking a

black clay pipe.

"How are you, Mr. Reuben Hayes?" said Holmes.

"Who are you, and how do you get my name so pat?" the countryman

answered, with a suspicious flash of a pair of cunning eyes.

"Well, it's printed on the board above your head. It's easy to see a man

who is master of his own house. I suppose you haven't such a thing as a

carriage in your stables?"

"No, I have not."

"I can hardly put my foot to the ground."

"Don't put it to the ground."

"But I can't walk."

"Well, then hop."

Mr. Reuben Hayes's manner was far from gracious, but Holmes took it with

admirable good-humour.

"Look here, my man," said he. "This is really rather an awkward fix for

me. I don't mind how I get on."

"Neither do I," said the morose landlord.

"The matter is very important. I would offer you a sovereign for the use

of a bicycle."

The landlord pricked up his ears.

"Where do you want to go?"

"To Holdernesse Hall."

"Pals of the Dook, I suppose?" said the landlord, surveying our

mud-stained garments with ironical eyes.

Holmes laughed good-naturedly.

"He'll be glad to see us, anyhow."


"Because we bring him news of his lost son."

The landlord gave a very visible start.

"What, you're on his track?"

"He has been heard of in Liverpool. They expect to get him every hour."

Again a swift change passed over the heavy, unshaven face. His manner

was suddenly genial.

"I've less reason to wish the Dook well than most men," said he, "for

I was head coachman once, and cruel bad he treated me. It was him that

sacked me without a character on the word of a lying corn-chandler. But

I'm glad to hear that the young lord was heard of in Liverpool, and I'll

help you to take the news to the Hall."

"Thank you," said Holmes. "Well have some food first. Then you can bring

round the bicycle."

"I haven't got a bicycle."

Holmes held up a sovereign.

"I tell you, man, that I haven't got one. I'll let you have two horses

as far as the Hall."

"Well, well," said Holmes, "well talk about it when we've had something

to eat."

When we were left alone in the stone-flagged kitchen, it was astonishing

how rapidly that sprained ankle recovered. It was nearly nightfall, and

we had eaten nothing since early morning, so that we spent some time

over our meal. Holmes was lost in thought, and once or twice he walked

over to the window and stared earnestly out. It opened on to a squalid

courtyard. In the far corner was a smithy, where a grimy lad was at

work. On the other side were the stables. Holmes had sat down again

after one of these excursions, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair

with a loud exclamation.

"By heaven, Watson, I believe that I've got it!" he cried. "Yes, yes, it

must be so. Watson, do you remember seeing any cow-tracks to-day?"

"Yes, several."


"Well, everywhere. They were at the morass, and again on the path, and

again near where poor Heidegger met his death."

"Exactly. Well, now, Watson, how many cows did you see on the moor?"

"I don't remember seeing any."

"Strange, Watson, that we should see tracks all along our line, but

never a cow on the whole moor. Very strange, Watson, eh?"

"Yes, it is strange."

"Now, Watson, make an effort, throw your mind back. Can you see those

tracks upon the path?"

"Yes, I can."

"Can you recall that the tracks were sometimes like that, Watson,"--he

arranged a number of bread-crumbs in this fashion--: : : : :--"and

sometimes like this"--: . : . : . : .--"and occasionally like this"--. :

. : . : . "Can you remember that?"

"No, I cannot."

"But I can. I could swear to it. However, we will go back at our

leisure and verify it. What a blind beetle I have been, not to draw my


"And what is your conclusion?"

"Only that it is a remarkable cow which walks, canters, and gallops. By

George! Watson, it was no brain of a country publican that thought out

such a blind as that. The coast seems to be clear, save for that lad in

the smithy. Let us slip out and see what we can see."

There were two rough-haired, unkempt horses in the tumble-down stable.

Holmes raised the hind leg of one of them and laughed aloud.

"Old shoes, but newly shod--old shoes, but new nails. This case deserves

to be a classic. Let us go across to the smithy."

The lad continued his work without regarding us. I saw Holmes's eye

darting to right and left among the litter of iron and wood which was

scattered about the floor. Suddenly, however, we heard a step behind

us, and there was the landlord, his heavy eyebrows drawn over his savage

eyes, his swarthy features convulsed with passion. He held a short,

metal-headed stick in his hand, and he advanced in so menacing a fashion

that I was right glad to feel the revolver in my pocket.

"You infernal spies!" the man cried. "What are you doing there?"

"Why, Mr. Reuben Hayes," said Holmes, coolly, "one might think that you

were afraid of our finding something out."

The man mastered himself with a violent effort, and his grim mouth

loosened into a false laugh, which was more menacing than his frown.

"You're welcome to all you can find out in my smithy," said he. "But

look here, mister, I don't care for folk poking about my place without

my leave, so the sooner you pay your score and get out of this the

better I shall be pleased."

"All right, Mr. Hayes, no harm meant," said Holmes. "We have been having

a look at your horses, but I think I'll walk, after all. It's not far, I


"Not more than two miles to the Hall gates. That's the road to the

left." He watched us with sullen eyes until we had left his premises.

We did not go very far along the road, for Holmes stopped the instant

that the curve hid us from the landlord's view.

"We were warm, as the children say, at that inn," said he. "I seem

to grow colder every step that I take away from it. No, no, I can't

possibly leave it."

"I am convinced," said I, "that this Reuben Hayes knows all about it. A

more self-evident villain I never saw."

"Oh! he impressed you in that way, did he? There are the horses, there

is the smithy. Yes, it is an interesting place, this Fighting Cock. I

think we shall have another look at it in an unobtrusive way."

A long, sloping hillside, dotted with gray limestone boulders, stretched

behind us. We had turned off the road, and were making our way up

the hill, when, looking in the direction of Holdernesse Hall, I saw a

cyclist coming swiftly along.

"Get down, Watson!" cried Holmes, with a heavy hand upon my shoulder. We

had hardly sunk from view when the man flew past us on the road. Amid

a rolling cloud of dust, I caught a glimpse of a pale, agitated face--a

face with horror in every lineament, the mouth open, the eyes staring

wildly in front. It was like some strange caricature of the dapper James

Wilder whom we had seen the night before.

"The Duke's secretary!" cried Holmes. "Come, Watson, let us see what he


We scrambled from rock to rock, until in a few moments we had made

our way to a point from which we could see the front door of the inn.

Wilder's bicycle was leaning against the wall beside it. No one was

moving about the house, nor could we catch a glimpse of any faces at the

windows. Slowly the twilight crept down as the sun sank behind the

high towers of Holdernesse Hall. Then, in the gloom, we saw the two

side-lamps of a trap light up in the stable-yard of the inn, and shortly

afterwards heard the rattle of hoofs, as it wheeled out into the road

and tore off at a furious pace in the direction of Chesterfield.

"What do you make of that, Watson?" Holmes whispered.

"It looks like a flight."

"A single man in a dog-cart, so far as I could see. Well, it certainly

was not Mr. James Wilder, for there he is at the door."

A red square of light had sprung out of the darkness. In the middle of

it was the black figure of the secretary, his head advanced, peering out

into the night. It was evident that he was expecting someone. Then at

last there were steps in the road, a second figure was visible for an

instant against the light, the door shut, and all was black once more.

Five minutes later a lamp was lit in a room upon the first floor.

"It seems to be a curious class of custom that is done by the Fighting

Cock," said Holmes.

"The bar is on the other side."

"Quite so. These are what one may call the private guests. Now, what in

the world is Mr. James Wilder doing in that den at this hour of night,

and who is the companion who comes to meet him there? Come, Watson,

we must really take a risk and try to investigate this a little more


Together we stole down to the road and crept across to the door of the

inn. The bicycle still leaned against the wall. Holmes struck a match

and held it to the back wheel, and I heard him chuckle as the light fell

upon a patched Dunlop tire. Up above us was the lighted window.

"I must have a peep through that, Watson. If you bend your back and

support yourself upon the wall, I think that I can manage."

An instant later, his feet were on my shoulders, but he was hardly up

before he was down again.

"Come, my friend," said he, "our day's work has been quite long enough.

I think that we have gathered all that we can. It's a long walk to the

school, and the sooner we get started the better."

He hardly opened his lips during that weary trudge across the moor, nor

would he enter the school when he reached it, but went on to Mackleton

Station, whence he could send some telegrams. Late at night I heard him

consoling Dr. Huxtable, prostrated by the tragedy of his master's death,

and later still he entered my room as alert and vigorous as he had been

when he started in the morning. "All goes well, my friend," said he. "I

promise that before to-morrow evening we shall have reached the solution

of the mystery."

At eleven o'clock next morning my friend and I were walking up the

famous yew avenue of Holdernesse Hall. We were ushered through the

magnificent Elizabethan doorway and into his Grace's study. There we

found Mr. James Wilder, demure and courtly, but with some trace of that

wild terror of the night before still lurking in his furtive eyes and in

his twitching features.

"You have come to see his Grace? I am sorry, but the fact is that the

Duke is far from well. He has been very much upset by the tragic news.

We received a telegram from Dr. Huxtable yesterday afternoon, which told

us of your discovery."

"I must see the Duke, Mr. Wilder."

"But he is in his room."

"Then I must go to his room."

"I believe he is in his bed."

"I will see him there."

Holmes's cold and inexorable manner showed the secretary that it was

useless to argue with him.

"Very good, Mr. Holmes, I will tell him that you are here."

After an hour's delay, the great nobleman appeared. His face was more

cadaverous than ever, his shoulders had rounded, and he seemed to me

to be an altogether older man than he had been the morning before. He

greeted us with a stately courtesy and seated himself at his desk, his

red beard streaming down on the table.

"Well, Mr. Holmes?" said he.

But my friend's eyes were fixed upon the secretary, who stood by his

master's chair.

"I think, your Grace, that I could speak more freely in Mr. Wilder's


The man turned a shade paler and cast a malignant glance at Holmes.

"If your Grace wishes----"

"Yes, yes, you had better go. Now, Mr. Holmes, what have you to say?"

My friend waited until the door had closed behind the retreating


"The fact is, your Grace," said he, "that my colleague, Dr. Watson, and

myself had an assurance from Dr. Huxtable that a reward had been offered

in this case. I should like to have this confirmed from your own lips."

"Certainly, Mr. Holmes."

"It amounted, if I am correctly informed, to five thousand pounds to

anyone who will tell you where your son is?"


"And another thousand to the man who will name the person or persons who

keep him in custody?"


"Under the latter heading is included, no doubt, not only those who

may have taken him away, but also those who conspire to keep him in his

present position?"

"Yes, yes," cried the Duke, impatiently. "If you do your work well,

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, you will have no reason to complain of niggardly


My friend rubbed his thin hands together with an appearance of avidity

which was a surprise to me, who knew his frugal tastes.

"I fancy that I see your Grace's check-book upon the table," said he. "I

should be glad if you would make me out a check for six thousand pounds.

It would be as well, perhaps, for you to cross it. The Capital and

Counties Bank, Oxford Street branch are my agents."

His Grace sat very stern and upright in his chair and looked stonily at

my friend.

"Is this a joke, Mr. Holmes? It is hardly a subject for pleasantry."

"Not at all, your Grace. I was never more earnest in my life."

"What do you mean, then?"

"I mean that I have earned the reward. I know where your son is, and I

know some, at least, of those who are holding him."

The Duke's beard had turned more aggressively red than ever against his

ghastly white face.

"Where is he?" he gasped.

"He is, or was last night, at the Fighting Cock Inn, about two miles

from your park gate."

The Duke fell back in his chair.

"And whom do you accuse?"

Sherlock Holmes's answer was an astounding one. He stepped swiftly

forward and touched the Duke upon the shoulder.

"I accuse YOU," said he. "And now, your Grace, I'll trouble you for that


Never shall I forget the Duke's appearance as he sprang up and clawed

with his hands, like one who is sinking into an abyss. Then, with an

extraordinary effort of aristocratic self-command, he sat down and sank

his face in his hands. It was some minutes before he spoke.

"How much do you know?" he asked at last, without raising his head.

"I saw you together last night."

"Does anyone else beside your friend know?"

"I have spoken to no one."

The Duke took a pen in his quivering fingers and opened his check-book.

"I shall be as good as my word, Mr. Holmes. I am about to write your

check, however unwelcome the information which you have gained may be

to me. When the offer was first made, I little thought the turn which

events might take. But you and your friend are men of discretion, Mr.


"I hardly understand your Grace."

"I must put it plainly, Mr. Holmes. If only you two know of this

incident, there is no reason why it should go any farther. I think

twelve thousand pounds is the sum that I owe you, is it not?"

But Holmes smiled and shook his head.

"I fear, your Grace, that matters can hardly be arranged so easily.

There is the death of this schoolmaster to be accounted for."

"But James knew nothing of that. You cannot hold him responsible for

that. It was the work of this brutal ruffian whom he had the misfortune

to employ."

"I must take the view, your Grace, that when a man embarks upon a crime,

he is morally guilty of any other crime which may spring from it."

"Morally, Mr. Holmes. No doubt you are right. But surely not in the eyes

of the law. A man cannot be condemned for a murder at which he was not

present, and which he loathes and abhors as much as you do. The instant

that he heard of it he made a complete confession to me, so filled was

he with horror and remorse. He lost not an hour in breaking entirely

with the murderer. Oh, Mr. Holmes, you must save him--you must save

him! I tell you that you must save him!" The Duke had dropped the last

attempt at self-command, and was pacing the room with a convulsed face

and with his clenched hands raving in the air. At last he mastered

himself and sat down once more at his desk. "I appreciate your conduct

in coming here before you spoke to anyone else," said he. "At least, we

may take counsel how far we can minimize this hideous scandal."

"Exactly," said Holmes. "I think, your Grace, that this can only be done

by absolute frankness between us. I am disposed to help your Grace to

the best of my ability, but, in order to do so, I must understand to the

last detail how the matter stands. I realize that your words applied to

Mr. James Wilder, and that he is not the murderer."

"No, the murderer has escaped."

Sherlock Holmes smiled demurely.

"Your Grace can hardly have heard of any small reputation which I

possess, or you would not imagine that it is so easy to escape me. Mr.

Reuben Hayes was arrested at Chesterfield, on my information, at eleven

o'clock last night. I had a telegram from the head of the local police

before I left the school this morning."

The Duke leaned back in his chair and stared with amazement at my


"You seem to have powers that are hardly human," said he. "So Reuben

Hayes is taken? I am right glad to hear it, if it will not react upon

the fate of James."

"Your secretary?"

"No, sir, my son."

It was Holmes's turn to look astonished.

"I confess that this is entirely new to me, your Grace. I must beg you

to be more explicit."

"I will conceal nothing from you. I agree with you that complete

frankness, however painful it may be to me, is the best policy in this

desperate situation to which James's folly and jealousy have reduced

us. When I was a very young man, Mr. Holmes, I loved with such a love

as comes only once in a lifetime. I offered the lady marriage, but she

refused it on the grounds that such a match might mar my career. Had she

lived, I would certainly never have married anyone else. She died, and

left this one child, whom for her sake I have cherished and cared for.

I could not acknowledge the paternity to the world, but I gave him the

best of educations, and since he came to manhood I have kept him near

my person. He surprised my secret, and has presumed ever since upon the

claim which he has upon me, and upon his power of provoking a scandal

which would be abhorrent to me. His presence had something to do

with the unhappy issue of my marriage. Above all, he hated my young

legitimate heir from the first with a persistent hatred. You may well

ask me why, under these circumstances, I still kept James under my roof.

I answer that it was because I could see his mother's face in his, and

that for her dear sake there was no end to my long-suffering. All her

pretty ways too--there was not one of them which he could not suggest

and bring back to my memory. I COULD not send him away. But I feared so

much lest he should do Arthur--that is, Lord Saltire--a mischief, that I

dispatched him for safety to Dr. Huxtable's school.

"James came into contact with this fellow Hayes, because the man was a

tenant of mine, and James acted as agent. The fellow was a rascal from

the beginning, but, in some extraordinary way, James became intimate

with him. He had always a taste for low company. When James determined

to kidnap Lord Saltire, it was of this man's service that he availed

himself. You remember that I wrote to Arthur upon that last day. Well,

James opened the letter and inserted a note asking Arthur to meet him

in a little wood called the Ragged Shaw, which is near to the school.

He used the Duchess's name, and in that way got the boy to come. That

evening James bicycled over--I am telling you what he has himself

confessed to me--and he told Arthur, whom he met in the wood, that his

mother longed to see him, that she was awaiting him on the moor, and

that if he would come back into the wood at midnight he would find a man

with a horse, who would take him to her. Poor Arthur fell into the trap.

He came to the appointment, and found this fellow Hayes with a led pony.

Arthur mounted, and they set off together. It appears--though this James

only heard yesterday--that they were pursued, that Hayes struck the

pursuer with his stick, and that the man died of his injuries. Hayes

brought Arthur to his public-house, the Fighting Cock, where he was

confined in an upper room, under the care of Mrs. Hayes, who is a kindly

woman, but entirely under the control of her brutal husband.

"Well, Mr. Holmes, that was the state of affairs when I first saw you

two days ago. I had no more idea of the truth than you. You will ask me

what was James's motive in doing such a deed. I answer that there was

a great deal which was unreasoning and fanatical in the hatred which

he bore my heir. In his view he should himself have been heir of all

my estates, and he deeply resented those social laws which made it

impossible. At the same time, he had a definite motive also. He was

eager that I should break the entail, and he was of opinion that it lay

in my power to do so. He intended to make a bargain with me--to restore

Arthur if I would break the entail, and so make it possible for the

estate to be left to him by will. He knew well that I should never

willingly invoke the aid of the police against him. I say that he would

have proposed such a bargain to me, but he did not actually do so, for

events moved too quickly for him, and he had not time to put his plans

into practice.

"What brought all his wicked scheme to wreck was your discovery of this

man Heidegger's dead body. James was seized with horror at the news. It

came to us yesterday, as we sat together in this study. Dr. Huxtable had

sent a telegram. James was so overwhelmed with grief and agitation that

my suspicions, which had never been entirely absent, rose instantly to

a certainty, and I taxed him with the deed. He made a complete voluntary

confession. Then he implored me to keep his secret for three days

longer, so as to give his wretched accomplice a chance of saving his

guilty life. I yielded--as I have always yielded--to his prayers, and

instantly James hurried off to the Fighting Cock to warn Hayes and

give him the means of flight. I could not go there by daylight without

provoking comment, but as soon as night fell I hurried off to see my

dear Arthur. I found him safe and well, but horrified beyond expression

by the dreadful deed he had witnessed. In deference to my promise, and

much against my will, I consented to leave him there for three days,

under the charge of Mrs. Hayes, since it was evident that it was

impossible to inform the police where he was without telling them also

who was the murderer, and I could not see how that murderer could be

punished without ruin to my unfortunate James. You asked for frankness,

Mr. Holmes, and I have taken you at your word, for I have now told you

everything without an attempt at circumlocution or concealment. Do you

in turn be as frank with me."

"I will," said Holmes. "In the first place, your Grace, I am bound to

tell you that you have placed yourself in a most serious position in

the eyes of the law. You have condoned a felony, and you have aided the

escape of a murderer, for I cannot doubt that any money which was taken

by James Wilder to aid his accomplice in his flight came from your

Grace's purse."

The Duke bowed his assent.

"This is, indeed, a most serious matter. Even more culpable in my

opinion, your Grace, is your attitude towards your younger son. You

leave him in this den for three days."

"Under solemn promises----"

"What are promises to such people as these? You have no guarantee that

he will not be spirited away again. To humour your guilty elder son,

you have exposed your innocent younger son to imminent and unnecessary

danger. It was a most unjustifiable action."

The proud lord of Holdernesse was not accustomed to be so rated in

his own ducal hall. The blood flushed into his high forehead, but his

conscience held him dumb.

"I will help you, but on one condition only. It is that you ring for the

footman and let me give such orders as I like."

Without a word, the Duke pressed the electric bell. A servant entered.

"You will be glad to hear," said Holmes, "that your young master is

found. It is the Duke's desire that the carriage shall go at once to the

Fighting Cock Inn to bring Lord Saltire home.

"Now," said Holmes, when the rejoicing lackey had disappeared, "having

secured the future, we can afford to be more lenient with the past. I am

not in an official position, and there is no reason, so long as the

ends of justice are served, why I should disclose all that I know. As to

Hayes, I say nothing. The gallows awaits him, and I would do nothing

to save him from it. What he will divulge I cannot tell, but I have

no doubt that your Grace could make him understand that it is to his

interest to be silent. From the police point of view he will have

kidnapped the boy for the purpose of ransom. If they do not themselves

find it out, I see no reason why I should prompt them to take a broader

point of view. I would warn your Grace, however, that the continued

presence of Mr. James Wilder in your household can only lead to


"I understand that, Mr. Holmes, and it is already settled that he shall

leave me forever, and go to seek his fortune in Australia."

"In that case, your Grace, since you have yourself stated that any

unhappiness in your married life was caused by his presence I would

suggest that you make such amends as you can to the Duchess, and

that you try to resume those relations which have been so unhappily


"That also I have arranged, Mr. Holmes. I wrote to the Duchess this


"In that case," said Holmes, rising, "I think that my friend and I can

congratulate ourselves upon several most happy results from our little

visit to the North. There is one other small point upon which I desire

some light. This fellow Hayes had shod his horses with shoes which

counterfeited the tracks of cows. Was it from Mr. Wilder that he learned

so extraordinary a device?"

The Duke stood in thought for a moment, with a look of intense surprise

on his face. Then he opened a door and showed us into a large room

furnished as a museum. He led the way to a glass case in a corner, and

pointed to the inscription.

"These shoes," it ran, "were dug up in the moat of Holdernesse Hall.

They are for the use of horses, but they are shaped below with a cloven

foot of iron, so as to throw pursuers off the track. They are supposed

to have belonged to some of the marauding Barons of Holdernesse in the

Middle Ages."

Holmes opened the case, and moistening his finger he passed it along the

shoe. A thin film of recent mud was left upon his skin.

"Thank you," said he, as he replaced the glass. "It is the second most

interesting object that I have seen in the North."

"And the first?"

Holmes folded up his check and placed it carefully in his notebook. "I

am a poor man," said he, as he patted it affectionately, and thrust it

into the depths of his inner pocket.