The Adventure Of Wisteria Lodge

1. The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles

I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy

day towards the end of March in the year 1892. Holmes had

received a telegram while we sat at our lunch, and he had

scribbled a reply. He made no remark, but the matter remained in

his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire afterwards with a

thoughtful fac
, smoking his pipe, and casting an occasional

glance at the message. Suddenly he turned upon me with a

mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

"I suppose, Watson, we must look upon you as a man of letters,"

said he. "How do you define the word 'grotesque'?"

"Strange--remarkable," I suggested.

He shook his head at my definition.

"There is surely something more than that," said he; "some

underlying suggestion of the tragic and the terrible. If you

cast your mind back to some of those narratives with which you

have afflicted a long-suffering public, you will recognize how

often the grotesque has deepened into the criminal. Think of

that little affair of the red-headed men. That was grotesque

enough in the outset, and yet it ended in a desperate attempt at

robbery. Or, again, there was that most grotesque affair of the

five orange pips, which let straight to a murderous conspiracy.

The word puts me on the alert."

"Have you it there?" I asked.

He read the telegram aloud.

"Have just had most incredible and grotesque experience. May I

consult you?

"Scott Eccles,

"Post Office, Charing Cross."

"Man or woman?" I asked.

"Oh, man, of course. No woman would ever send a reply-paid

telegram. She would have come."

"Will you see him?"

"My dear Watson, you know how bored I have been since we locked

up Colonel Carruthers. My mind is like a racing engine, tearing

itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for

which it was built. Life is commonplace, the papers are sterile;

audacity and romance seem to have passed forever from the

criminal world. Can you ask me, then, whether I am ready to look

into any new problem, however trivial it may prove? But here,

unless I am mistaken, is our client."

A measured step was heard upon the stairs, and a moment later a

stout, tall, gray-whiskered and solemnly respectable person was

ushered into the room. His life history was written in his heavy

features and pompous manner. From his spats to his gold-rimmed

spectacles he was a Conservative, a churchman, a good citizen,

orthodox and conventional to the last degree. But some amazing

experience had disturbed his native composure and left its traces

in his bristling hair, his flushed, angry cheeks, and his

flurried, excited manner. He plunged instantly into his business.

"I have had a most singular and unpleasant experience, Mr.

Holmes," said he. "Never in my life have I been placed in such a

situation. It is most improper--most outrageous. I must insist

upon some explanation." He swelled and puffed in his anger.

"Pray sit down, Mr. Scott Eccles," said Holmes in a soothing

voice. "May I ask, in the first place, why you came to me at


"Well, sir, it did not appear to be a matter which concerned the

police, and yet, when you have heard the facts, you must admit

that I could not leave it where it was. Private detectives are a

class with whom I have absolutely no sympathy, but none the less,

having heard your name--"

"Quite so. But, in the second place, why did you not come at


Holmes glanced at his watch.

"It is a quarter-past two," he said. "Your telegram was

dispatched about one. But no one can glance at your toilet and

attire without seeing that your disturbance dates from the moment

of your waking."

Our client smoothed down his unbrushed hair and felt his unshaven


"You are right, Mr. Holmes. I never gave a thought to my toilet.

I was only too glad to get out of such a house. But I have been

running round making inquiries before I came to you. I went to

the house agents, you know, and they said that Mr. Garcia's rent

was paid up all right and that everything was in order at

Wisteria Lodge."

"Come, come, sir," said Holmes, laughing. "You are like my

friend, Dr. Watson, who has a bad habit of telling his stories

wrong end foremost. Please arrange your thoughts and let me

know, in their due sequence, exactly what those events are which

have sent you out unbrushed and unkempt, with dress boots and

waistcoat buttoned awry, in search of advice and assistance."

Our client looked down with a rueful face at his own

unconventional appearance.

"I'm sure it must look very bad, Mr. Holmes, and I am not aware

that in my whole life such a thing has ever happened before. But

will tell you the whole queer business, and when I have done so

you will admit, I am sure, that there has been enough to excuse


But his narrative was nipped in the bud. There was a bustle

outside, and Mrs. Hudson opened the door to usher in two robust

and official-looking individuals, one of whom was well known to

us as Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard, an energetic, gallant,

and, within his limitations, a capable officer. He shook hands

with Holmes and introduced his comrade as Inspector Baynes, of

the Surrey Constabulary.

"We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes, and our trail lay in this

direction." He turned his bulldog eyes upon our visitor. "Are

you Mr. John Scott Eccles, of Popham House, Lee?"

"I am."

"We have been following you about all the morning."

"You traced him through the telegram, no doubt," said Holmes.

"Exactly, Mr. Holmes. We picked up the scent at Charing Cross

Post-Office and came on here."

"But why do you follow me? What do you want?"

"We wish a statement, Mr. Scott Eccles, as to the events which

let up to the death last night of Mr. Aloysius Garcia, of

Wisteria Lodge, near Esher."

Our client had sat up with staring eyes and every tinge of colour

struck from his astonished face.

"Dead? Did you say he was dead?"

"Yes, sir, he is dead."

"But how? An accident?"

"Murder, if ever there was one upon earth."

"Good God! This is awful! You don't mean--you don't mean that I

am suspected?"

"A letter of yours was found in the dead man's pocket, and we

know by it that you had planned to pass last night at his house."

"So I did."

"Oh, you did, did you?"

Out came the official notebook.

"Wait a bit, Gregson," said Sherlock Holmes. "All you desire is

a plain statement, is it not?"

"And it is my duty to warn Mr. Scott Eccles that it may be used

against him."

"Mr. Eccles was going to tell us about it when you entered the

room. I think, Watson, a brandy and soda would do him no harm.

Now, sir, I suggest that you take no notice of this addition to

your audience, and that you proceed with your narrative exactly

as you would have done had you never been interrupted."

Our visitor had gulped off the brandy and the colour had returned

to his face. With a dubious glance at the inspector's notebook,

he plunged at once into his extraordinary statement.

"I am a bachelor," said he, "and being of a sociable turn I

cultivate a large number of friends. Among these are the family

of a retired brewer called Melville, living at Abermarle Mansion,

Kensington. It was at his table that I met some weeks ago a

young fellow named Garcia. He was, I understood, of Spanish

descent and connected in some way with the embassy. He spoke

perfect English, was pleasing in his manners, and as good-looking

a man as ever I saw in my life.

"In some way we struck up quite a friendship, this young fellow

and I. He seemed to take a fancy to me from the first, and

within two days of our meeting he came to see me at Lee. One

thing led to another, and it ended in his inviting me out to

spend a few days at his house, Wisteria Lodge, between Esher and

Oxshott. Yesterday evening I went to Esher to fulfil this


"He had described his household to me before I went there. He

lived with a faithful servant, a countryman of his own, who

looked after all his needs. This fellow could speak English and

did his housekeeping for him. Then there was a wonderful cook,

he said, a half-breed whom he had picked up in his travels, who

could serve an excellent dinner. I remember that he remarked

what a queer household it was to find in the heart of Surrey, and

that I agreed with him, though it has proved a good deal queerer

than I thought.

"I drove to the place--about two miles on the south side of

Esher. The house was a fair-sized one, standing back from the

road, with a curving drive which was banked with high evergreen

shrubs. It was an old, tumbledown building in a crazy state of

disrepair. When the trap pulled up on the grass-grown drive in

front of the blotched and weather-stained door, I had doubts as

to my wisdom in visiting a man whom I knew so slightly. He

opened the door himself, however, and greeted me with a great

show of cordiality. I was handed over to the manservant, a

melancholy, swarthy individual, who led the way, my bag in his

hand, to my bedroom. The whole place was depressing. Our dinner

was tete-a-tete, and though my host did his best to be

entertaining, his thoughts seemed to continually wander, and he

talked so vaguely and wildly that I could hardly understand him.

He continually drummed his fingers on the table, gnawed his

nails, and gave other signs of nervous impatience. The dinner

itself was neither well served nor well cooked, and the gloomy

presence of the taciturn servant did not help to enliven us. I

can assure you that many times in the course of the evening I

wished that I could invent some excuse which would take me back

to Lee.

"One thing comes back to my memory which may have a bearing upon

the business that you two gentlemen are investigating. I thought

nothing of it at the time. Near the end of dinner a note was

handed in by the servant. I noticed that after my host had read

it he seemed even more distrait and strange than before. He gave

up all pretence at conversation and sat, smoking endless

cigarettes, lost in his own thoughts, but he made no remark as to

the contents. About eleven I was glad to go to bed. Some time

later Garcia looked in at my door--the room was dark at the time

--and asked me if I had rung. I said that I had not. He

apologized for having disturbed me so late, saying that it was

nearly one o'clock. I dropped off after this and slept soundly

all night.

"And now I come to the amazing part of my tale. When I woke it

was broad daylight. I glanced at my watch, and the time was

nearly nine. I had particularly asked to be called at eight, so

I was very much astonished at this forgetfulness. I sprang up

and rang for the servant. There was no response. I rang again

and again, with the same result. Then I came to the conclusion

that the bell was out of order. I huddled on my clothes and

hurried downstairs in an exceedingly bad temper to order some hot

water. You can imagine my surprise when I found that there was

no one there. I shouted in the hall. There was no answer. Then

I ran from room to room. All were deserted. My host had shown me

which was his bedroom the night before, so I knocked at the door.

No reply. I turned the handle and walked in. The room was

empty, and the bed had never been slept in. He had gone with the

rest. The foreign host, the foreign footman, the foreign cook,

all had vanished in the night! That was the end of my visit to

Wisteria Lodge."

Sherlock Holmes was rubbing his hands and chuckling as he added

this bizarre incident to his collection of strange episodes.

"Your experience is, so far as I know, perfectly unique," said

he. "May I ask, sir, what you did then?"

"I was furious. My first idea was that I had been the victim of

some absurd practical joke. I packed my things, banged the hall

door behind me, and set off for Esher, with my bag in my hand. I

called at Allan Brothers', the chief land agents in the village,

and found that it was from this firm that the villa had been

rented. It struck me that the whole proceeding could hardly be

for the purpose of making a fool of me, and that the main objet

must be to get out of the rent. It is late in March, so quarter-

day is at hand. But this theory would not work. The agent was

obliged to me for my warning, but told me that the rent had been

paid in advance. Then I made my way to town and called at the

Spanish embassy. The man was unknown there. After this I went

to see Melville, at whose house I had first met Garcia, but I

found that he really knew rather less about him than I did.

Finally when I got your reply to my wire I came out to you, since

I gather that you are a person who gives advice in difficult

cases. But now, Mr. Inspector, I understand, from what you said

when you entered the room, that you can carry the story on, and

that some tragedy had occurred. I can assure you that every word

I have said is the truth, and that, outside of what I have told

you, I know absolutely nothing about the fate of this man. My

only desire is to help the law in every possible way."

"I am sure of it, Mr. Scott Eccles--I am sure of it," said

Inspector Gregson in a very amiable tone. "I am bound to say

that everything which you have said agrees very closely with the

facts as they have come to our notice. For example, there was

that note which arrived during dinner. Did you chance to observe

what became of it?"

"Yes, I did. Garcia rolled it up and threw it into the fire."

"What do you say to that, Mr. Baynes?"

The country detective was a stout, puffy, red man, whose face was

only redeemed from grossness by two extraordinarily bright eyes,

almost hidden behind the heavy creases of cheek and brow. With a

slow smile he drew a folded and discoloured scrap of paper from

his pocket.

"It was a dog-grate, Mr. Holmes, and he overpitched it. I picked

this out unburned from the back of it."

Holmes smiled his appreciation.

"You must have examined the house very carefully to find a single

pellet of paper."

"I did, Mr. Holmes. It's my way. Shall I read it, Mr. Gregson?"

The Londoner nodded.

"The note is written upon ordinary cream-laid paper without

watermark. It is a quarter-sheet. The paper is cut off in two

snips with a short-bladed scissors. It has been folded over

three times and sealed with purple wax, put on hurriedly and

pressed down with some flat oval object. It is addressed to Mr.

Garcia, Wisteria Lodge. It says:

"Our own colours, green and white. Green open, white shut. Main

stair, first corridor, seventh right, green baize. Godspeed. D.

"It is a woman's writing, done with a sharp-pointed pen, but the

address is either done with another pen or by someone else. It

is thicker and bolder, as you see."

"A very remarkable note," said Holmes, glancing it over. "I must

compliment you, Mr. Baynes, upon your attention to detail in your

examination of it. A few trifling points might perhaps be added.

The oval seal is undoubtedly a plain sleeve-link--what else is of

such a shape? The scissors were bent nail scissors. Short as

the two snips are, you can distinctly see the same slight curve

in each."

The country detective chuckled.

"I thought I had squeezed all the juice out of it, but I see

there was a little over," he said. "I'm bound to say that I make

nothing of the note except that there was something on hand, and

that a woman, as usual was at the bottom of it."

Mr. Scott Eccles had fidgeted in his seat during this


"I am glad you found the note, since it corroborates my story,"

said he. "But I beg to point out that I have not yet heard what

has happened to Mr. Garcia, nor what has become of his


"As to Garcia," said Gregson, "that is easily answered. He was

found dead this morning upon Oxshott Common, nearly a mile from

his home. His head had been smashed to pulp by heavy blows of a

sandbag or some such instrument, which had crushed rather than

wounded. It is a lonely corner, and there is no house within a

quarter of a mile of the spot. He had apparently been struck

down first from behind, but his assailant had gone on beating him

long after he was dead. It was a most furious assault. There

are no footsteps nor any clue to the criminals."


"No, there was no attempt at robbery."

"This is very painful--very painful and terrible," said Mr. Scott

Eccles in a querulous voice, "but it is really uncommonly hard on

me. I had nothing to do with my host going off upon a nocturnal

excursion and meeting so sad an end. How do I come to be mixed

up with the case?"

"Very simply, sir," Inspector Baynes answered. "The only

document found in the pocket of the deceased was a letter from

you saying that you would be with him on the night of his death.

It was the envelope of this letter which gave us the dead man's

name and address. It was after nine this morning when we reached

his house and found neither you nor anyone else inside it. I

wired to Mr. Gregson to run you down in London while I examined

Wisteria Lodge. Then I came into town, joined Mr. Gregson, and

here we are."

"I think now," said Gregson, rising, "we had best put this matter

into an official shape. You will come round with us to the

station, Mr. Scott Eccles, and let us have your statement in


"Certainly, I will come at once. But I retain your services, Mr.

Holmes. I desire you to spare no expense and no pains to get at

the truth."

My friend turned to the country inspector.

"I suppose that you have no objection to my collaborating with

you, Mr. Baynes?"

"Highly honoured, sir, I am sure."

"You appear to have been very prompt and businesslike in all that

you have done. Was there any clue, may I ask, as to the exact

hour that the man met his death?"

"He had been there since one o'clock. There was rain about that

time, and his death had certainly been before the rain."

"But that is perfectly impossible, Mr. Baynes," cried our client.

"His voice is unmistakable. I could swear to it that it was he

who addressed me in my bedroom at that very hour."

"Remarkable, but by no means impossible," said Holmes, smiling.

"You have a clue?" asked Gregson.

"On the face of it the case is not a very complex one, though it

certainly presents some novel and interesting features. A

further knowledge of facts is necessary before I would venture to

give a final and definite opinion. By the way, Mr. Baynes, did

you find anything remarkable besides this note in your

examination of the house?"

The detective looked at my friend in a singular way.

"There were," said he, "one or two very remarkable things.

Perhaps when I have finished at the police-station you would care

to come out and give me your opinion of them."

"I am entirely at your service," said Sherlock Holmes, ringing

the bell. "You will show these gentlemen out, Mrs. Hudson, and

kindly send the boy with this telegram. He is to pay a

five-shilling reply."

We sat for some time in silence after our visitors had left.

Holmes smoked hard, with his browns drawn down over his keen

eyes, and his head thrust forward in the eager way characteristic

of the man.

"Well, Watson," he asked, turning suddenly upon me, "what do you

make of it?"

"I can make nothing of this mystification of Scott Eccles."

"But the crime?"

"Well, taken with the disappearance of the man's companions, I

should say that they were in some way concerned in the murder and

had fled from justice."

"That is certainly a possible point of view. On the face of it

you must admit, however, that it is very strange that his two

servants should have been in a conspiracy against him and should

have attacked him on the one night when he had a guest. They had

him alone at their mercy every other night in the week."

"Then why did they fly?"

"Quite so. Why did they fly? There is a big fact. Another big

fact is the remarkable experience of our client, Scott Eccles.

Now, my dear Watson, is it beyond the limits of human ingenuity

to furnish an explanation which would cover both of these big

facts? If it were one which would also admit of the mysterious

note with its very curious phraseology, why, then it would be

worth accepting as a temporary hypothesis. If the fresh facts

which come to our knowledge all fit themselves into the scheme,

then our hypothesis may gradually become a solution."

"But what is our hypothesis?"

Holmes leaned back in his chair with half-closed eyes.

"You must admit, my dear Watson, that the idea of a joke is

impossible. There were grave events afoot, as the sequel showed,

and the coaxing of Scott Eccles to Wisteria Lodge had some

connection with them."

"But what possible connection?"

"Let us take it link by link. There is, on the face of it,

something unnatural about this strange and sudden friendship

between the young Spaniard and Scott Eccles. It was the former

who forced the pace. He called upon Eccles at the other end of

London on the very day after he first met him, and he kept in

close touch with him until he got him down to Esher. Now, what

did he want with Eccles? What could Eccles supply? I see no

charm in the man. He is not particularly intelligent--not a man

likely to be congenial to a quick-witted Latin. Why, then, was he

picked out from all the other people whom Garcia met as

particularly suited to his purpose? Has he any one outstanding

quality? I say that he has. He is the very type of conventional

British respectability, and the very man as a witness to impress

another Briton. You saw yourself how neither of the inspectors

dreamed of questioning his statement, extraordinary as it was."

"But what was he to witness?"

"Nothing, as things turned out, but everything had they gone

another way. That is how I read the matter."

"I see, he might have proved an alibi."

"Exactly, my dear Watson; he might have proved an alibi. We will

suppose, for argument's sake, that the household of Wisteria

Lodge are confederates in some design. The attempt, whatever it

may be, is to come off, we will say, before one o'clock. By some

juggling of the clocks it is quite possible that they may have

got Scott Eccles to bed earlier than he thought, but in any case

it is likely that when Garcia went out of his way to tell him

that it was one it was really not more than twelve. If Garcia

could do whatever he had to do and be back by the hour mentioned

he had evidently a powerful reply to any accusation. Here was

this irreproachable Englishman ready to swear in any court of law

that the accused was in the house all the time. It was an

insurance against the worst."

"Yes, yes, I see that. But how about the disappearance of the


"I have not all my facts yet, but I do not think there are any

insuperable difficulties. Still, it is an error to argue in

front of your data. You find yourself insensibly twisting them

round to fit your theories."

"And the message?"

"How did it run? 'Our own colours, green and white.' Sounds

like racing. 'Green open, white shut.' That is clearly a

signal. 'Main stair, first corridor, seventh right, green

baize.' This is an assignation. We may find a jealous husband

at the bottom of it all. It was clearly a dangerous quest. She

would not have said 'Godspeed' had it not been so. 'D'--that

should be a guide."

"The man was a Spaniard. I suggest that 'D' stands for Dolores,

a common female name in Spain."

"Good, Watson, very good--but quite inadmissable. A Spaniard

would write to a Spaniard in Spanish. The writer of this note is

certainly English. Well, we can only possess our soul in

patience until this excellent inspector come back for us.

Meanwhile we can thank our lucky fate which has rescued us for a

few short hours from the insufferable fatigues of idleness."

* * *

An answer had arrived to Holmes's telegram before our Surrey

officer had returned. Holmes read it and was about to place it

in his notebook when he caught a glimpse of my expectant face. He

tossed it across with a laugh.

"We are moving in exalted circles," said he.

The telegram was a list of names and addresses:

Lord Harringby, The Dingle; Sir George Ffolliott, Oxshott Towers;

Mr. Hynes Hynes, J.P., Purdley Place; Mr. James Baker Williams,

Forton Old Hall; Mr. Henderson, High Gable; Rev. Joshua Stone,

Nether Walsling.

"This is a very obvious way of limiting our field of operations,"

said Holmes. "No doubt Baynes, with his methodical mind, has

already adopted some similar plan."

"I don't quite understand."

"Well, my dear fellow, we have already arrived at the conclusion

that the massage received by Garcia at dinner was an appointment

or an assignation. Now, if the obvious reading of it is correct,

and in order to keep the tryst one has to ascend a main stair and

seek the seventh door in a corridor, it is perfectly clear that

the house is a very large one. It is equally certain that this

house cannot be more than a mile or two from Oxshott, since

Garcia was walking in that direction and hoped, according to my

reading of the facts, to be back in Wisteria Lodge in time to

avail himself of an alibi, which would only be valid up to one

o'clock. As the number of large houses close to Oxshott must be

limited, I adopted the obvious method of sending to the agents

mentioned by Scott Eccles and obtaining a list of them. Here

they are in this telegram, and the other end of our tangled skein

must lie among them."

* * *

It was nearly six o'clock before we found ourselves in the pretty

Surrey village of Esher, with Inspector Baynes as our companion.

Holmes and I had taken things for the night, and found

comfortable quarters at the Bull. Finally we set out in the

company of the detective on our visit to Wisteria Lodge. It was

a cold, dark March evening, with a sharp wind and a fine rain

beating upon our faces, a fit setting for the wild common over

which our road passed and the tragic goal to which it led us.

2. The Tiger of San Pedro

A cold and melancholy walk of a couple of miles brought us to a

high wooden gate, which opened into a gloomy avenue of chestnuts.

The curved and shadowed drive led us to a low, dark house, pitch-

black against a slate-coloured sky. From the front window upon

the left of the door there peeped a glimmer of a feeble light.

"There's a constable in possession," said Baynes. "I'll knock at

the window." He stepped across the grass plot and tapped with

his hand on the pane. Through the fogged glass I dimly saw a man

spring up from a chair beside the fire, and heard a sharp cry

from within the room. An instant later a white-faced, hard-

breathing policeman had opened the door, the candle wavering in

his trembling hand.

"What's the matter, Walters?" asked Baynes sharply.

The man mopped his forehead with his handkerchief and agave a

long sigh of relief.

"I am glad you have come, sir. It has been a long evening, and I

don't think my nerve is as good as it was."

"Your nerve, Walters? I should not have thought you had a nerve

in your body."

"Well, sir, it's this lonely, silent house and the queer thing in

the kitchen. Then when you tapped at the window I thought it had

come again."

"That what had come again?"

"The devil, sir, for all I know. It was at the window."

"What was at the window, and when?"

"It was just about two hours ago. The light was just fading. I

was sitting reading in the chair. I don't know what made me look

up, but there was a face looking in at me through the lower pane.

Lord, sir, what a face it was! I'll see it in my dreams."

"Tut, tut, Walters. This is not talk for a police-constable."

"I know, sir, I know; but it shook me, sir, and there's no use to

deny it. It wasn't black, sir, nor was it white, nor any colour

that I know but a kind of queer shade like clay with a splash of

milk in it. Then there was the size of it--it was twice yours,

sir. And the look of it--the great staring goggle eyes, and the

line of white teeth like a hungry beast. I tell you, sir, I

couldn't move a finger, nor get my breath, till it whisked away

and was gone. Out I ran and through the shrubbery, but thank God

there was no one there."

"If I didn't know you were a good man, Walters, I should put a

black mark against you for this. If it were the devil himself a

constable on duty should never thank God that he could not lay

his hands upon him. I suppose the whole thing is not a vision

and a touch of nerves?"

"That, at least, is very easily settled," said Holmes, lighting

his little pocket lantern. "Yes," he reported, after a short

examination of the grass bed, "a number twelve shoe, I should

say. If he was all on the same scale as his foot he must

certainly have been a giant."

"What became of him?"

"He seems to have broken through the shrubbery and made for the


"Well," said the inspector with a grave and thoughtful face,

"whoever he may have been, and whatever he may have wanted, he's

gone for the present, and we have more immediate things to attend

to. Now, Mr. Holmes, with your permission, I will show you round

the house."

The various bedrooms and sitting-rooms had yielded nothing to a

careful search. Apparently the tenants had brought little or

nothing with them, and all the furniture down to the smallest

details had been taken over with the house. A good deal of

clothing with the stamp of Marx and Co., High Holborn, had been

left behind. Telegraphic inquiries had been already made which

showed that Marx knew nothing of his customer save that he was a

good payer. Odds and ends, some pipes, a few novels, two of them

in Spanish, and old-fashioned pinfire revolver, and a guitar were

among the personal property.

"Nothing in all this," said Baynes, stalking, candle in hand,

from room to room. "But now, Mr. Holmes, I invite your attention

to the kitchen."

It was a gloomy, high-ceilinged room at the back of the house,

with a straw litter in one corner, which served apparently as a

bed for the cook. The table was piled with half-eaten dishes and

dirty plates, the debris of last night's dinner.

"Look at this," said Baynes. "What do you make of it?"

He held up his candle before an extraordinary object which stood

at the back of the dresser. It was so wrinkled and shrunken and

withered that it was difficult to say what it might have been.

One could but say that it was black and leathery and that it bore

some resemblance to a dwarfish, human figure. At first, as I

examined it, I thought that it was a mummified negro baby, and

then it seemed a very twisted and ancient monkey. Finally I was

left in doubt as to whether it was animal or human. A double

band of white shells were strung round the centre of it.

"Very interesting--very interesting, indeed!" said Holmes,

peering at this sinister relic. "Anything more?"

In silence Baynes led the way to the sink and held forward his

candle. The limbs and body of some large, white bird, torn

savagely to pieces with the feathers still on, were littered all

over it. Holmes pointed to the wattles on the severed head.

"A white cock," said he. "Most interesting! It is really a very

curious case."

But Mr. Baynes had kept his most sinister exhibit to the last.

From under the sink he drew a zinc pail which contained a

quantity of blood. Then from the table he took a platter heaped

with small pieces of charred bone.

"Something has been killed and something has been burned. We

raked all these out of the fire. We had a doctor in this

morning. He says that they are not human."

Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands.

"I must congratulate you, Inspector, on handling so distinctive

and instructive a case. Your powers, if I may say so without

offence, seem superior to your opportunities."

Inspector Baynes's small eyes twinkled with pleasure.

"You're right, Mr. Holmes. We stagnate in the provinces. A case

of this sort gives a man a chance, and I hope that I shall take

it. What do you make of these bones?"

"A lamb, I should say, or a kid."

"And the white cock?"

"Curious, Mr. Baynes, very curious. I should say almost unique."

"Yes, sir, there must have been some very strange people with

some very strange ways in this house. One of them is dead. Did

his companions follow him and kill him? If they did we should

have them, for every port is watched. But my own views are

different. Yes, sir, my own views are very different."

"You have a theory then?"

"And I'll work it myself, Mr. Holmes. It's only due to my own

credit to do so. Your name is made, but I have still to make

mine. I should be glad to be able to say afterwards that I had

solved it without your help."

Holmes laughed good-humoredly.

"Well, well, Inspector," said he. "Do you follow your path and I

will follow mine. My results are always very much at your

service if you care to apply to me for them. I think that I have

seen all that I wish in this house, and that my time may be more

profitably employed elsewhere. Au revoir and good luck!"

I could tell by numerous subtle signs, which might have been lost

upon anyone but myself, that Holmes was on a hot scent. As

impassive as ever to the casual observer, there were none the

less a subdued eagerness and suggestion of tension in his

brightened eyes and brisker manner which assured me that the game

was afoot. After his habit he said nothing, and after mine I

asked no questions. Sufficient for me to share the sport and

lend my humble help to the capture without distracting that

intent brain with needless interruption. All would come round to

me in due time.

I waited, therefore--but to my ever-deepening disappointment I

waited in vain. Day succeeded day, and my friend took no step

forward. One morning he spent in town, and I learned from a

casual reference that he had visited the British Museum. Save

for this one excursion, he spent his days in long and often

solitary walks, or in chatting with a number of village gossips

whose acquaintance he had cultivated.

"I'm sure, Watson, a week in the country will be invaluable to

you," he remarked. "It is very pleasant to see the first green

shoots upon the hedges and the catkins on the hazels once again.

With a spud, a tin box, and an elementary book on botany, there

are instructive days to be spent." He prowled about with this

equipment himself, but it was a poor show of plants which he

would bring back of an evening.

Occasionally in our rambles we came across Inspector Baynes. His

fat, red face wreathed itself in smiles and his small eyes

glittered as he greeted my companion. He said little about the

case, but from that little we gathered that he also was not

dissatisfied at the course of events. I must admit, however,

that I was somewhat surprised when, some five days after the

crime, I opened my morning paper to find in large letters:




Holmes sprang in his chair as if he had been stung when I read

the headlines.

"By Jove!" he cried. "You don't mean that Baynes has got him?"

"Apparently," said I as I read the following report:

"Great excitement was caused in Esher and the neighbouring

district when it was learned late last night that an arrest had

been effected in connection with the Oxshott murder. It will be

remembered that Mr. Garcia, of Wisteria Lodge, was found dead on

Oxshott Common, his body showing signs of extreme violence, and

that on the same night his servant and his cook fled, which

appeared to show their participation in the crime. It was

suggested, but never proved, that the deceased gentleman may have

had valuables in the house, and that their abstraction was the

motive of the crime. Every effort was made by Inspector Baynes,

who has the case in hand, to ascertain the hiding place of the

fugitives, and he had good reason to believe that they had not

gone far but were lurking in some retreat which had been already

prepared. It was certain from the first, however, that they

would eventually be detected, as the cook, from the evidence of

one or two tradespeople who have caught a glimpse of him through

the window, was a man of most remarkable appearance--being a huge

and hideous mulatto, with yellowish features of a pronounced

negroid type. This man has been seen since the crime, for he was

detected and pursued by Constable Walters on the same evening,

when he had the audacity to revisit Wisteria Lodge. Inspector

Baynes, considering that such a visit must have some purpose in

view and was likely, therefore, to be repeated, abandoned the

house but left an ambuscade in the shrubbery. The man walked

into the trap and was captured last night after a struggle in

which Constable Downing was badly bitten by the savage. We

understand that when the prison is brought before the magistrates

a remand will be applied for by the police, and that great

developments are hoped from his capture."

"Really we must see Baynes at once," cried Holmes, picking up his

hat. "We will just catch him before he starts." We hurried down

the village street and found, as we had expected, that the

inspector was just leaving his lodgings.

"You've seen the paper, Mr. Holmes?" he asked, holding one out to


"Yes, Baynes, I've seen it. Pray don't think it a liberty if I

give you a word of friendly warning."

"Of warning, Mr. Holmes?"

"I have looked into this case with some care, and I am not

convinced that you are on the right lines. I don't want you to

commit yourself too far unless you are sure."

"You're very kind, Mr. Holmes."

"I assure you I speak for your good."

It seemed to me that something like a wink quivered for an

instant over one of Mr. Baynes's tiny eyes.

"We agreed to work on our own lines, Mr. Holmes. That's what I

am doing."

"Oh, very good," said Holmes. "Don't blame me."

"No, sir; I believe you mean well by me. But we all have our own

systems, Mr. Holmes. You have yours, and maybe I have mine."

"Let us say no more about it."

"You're welcome always to my news. This fellow is a perfect

savage, as strong as a cart-horse and as fierce as the devil. He

chewed Downing's thumb nearly off before they could master him.

He hardly speaks a word of English, and we can get nothing out of

him but grunts."

"And you think you have evidence that he murdered his late


"I didn't say so, Mr. Holmes; I didn't say so. We all have our

little ways. You try yours and I will try mine. That's the


Holmes shrugged his shoulders as we walked away together. "I

can't make the man out. He seems to be riding for a fall. Well,

as he says, we must each try our own way and see what comes of

it. But there's something in Inspector Baynes which I can't

quite understand."

"Just sit down in that chair, Watson," said Sherlock Holmes when

we had returned to our apartment at the Bull. "I want to put you

in touch with the situation, as I may need your help to-night.

Let me show you the evolution of this case so far as I have been

able to follow it. Simple as it has been in its leading

features, it has none the less presented surprising difficulties

in the way of an arrest. There are gaps in that direction which

we have still to fill.

"We will go back to the note which was handed in to Garcia upon

the evening of his death. We may put aside this idea of Baynes's

that Garcia's servants were concerned in the matter. The proof

of this lies in the fact that it was he who had arranged for the

presence of Scott Eccles, which could only have been done for the

purpose of an alibi. It was Garcia, then, who had an enterprise,

and apparently a criminal enterprise, in hand that night in the

course of which he met his death. I say 'criminal' because only

a man with a criminal enterprise desires to establish an alibi.

Who, then, is most likely to have taken his life? Surely the

person against whom the criminal enterprise was directed. So far

it seems to me that we are on safe ground.

"We can now see a reason for the disappearance of Garcia's

household. They were all confederates in the same unknown crime.

If it came off when Garcia returned, any possible suspicion would

be warded off by the Englishman's evidence, and all would be

well. But the attempt was a dangerous one, and if Garcia did not

return by a certain hour it was probable that his own life had

been sacrificed. It had been arranged, therefore, that in such a

case his two subordinates were to make for some prearranged spot

where they could escape investigation and be in a position

afterwards to renew their attempt. That would fully explain the

facts, would it not?"

The whole inexplicable tangle seemed to straighten out before me.

I wondered, as I always did, how it had not been obvious to me


"But why should one servant return?"

"We can imagine that in the confusion of flight something

precious, something which he could not bear to part with, had

been left behind. That would explain his persistence, would it


"Well, what is the next step?"

"The next step is the note received by Garcia at the dinner. It

indicates a confederate at the other end. Now, where was the

other end? I have already shown you that it could only lie in

some large house, and that the number of large houses is limited.

My first days in this village were devoted to a series of walks

in which in the intervals of my botanical researches I made a

reconnaissance of all the large houses and an examination of the

family history of the occupants. One house, and only one,

riveted my attention. It is the famous old Jacobean grange of

High Gable, one mile on the farther side of Oxshott, and less

than half a mile from the scene of the tragedy. The other

mansions belonged to prosaic and respectable people who live far

aloof from romance. But Mr. Henderson, of High Gable, was by all

accounts a curious man to whom curious adventures might befall.

I concentrated my attention, therefore, upon him and his


"A singular set of people, Watson--the man himself the most

singular of them all. I managed to see him on a plausible

pretext, but I seemed to read in his dark, deepset, brooding eyes

that he was perfectly aware of my true business. He is a man of

fifty, strong, active, with iron-gray hair, great bunched black

eyebrows, the step of a deer and the air of an emperor--a fierce,

masterful man, with a red-hot spirit behind his parchment face.

He is either a foreigner or has lived long in the tropics, for he

is yellow and sapless, but tough as whipcord. His friend and

secretary, Mr. Lucas, is undoubtedly a foreigner, chocolate

brown, wily, suave, and catlike, with a poisonous gentleness of

speech. You see, Watson, we have come already upon two sets of

foreigners--one at Wisteria Lodge and one at High Gable--so our

gaps are beginning to close.

"These two men, close and confidential friends, are the centre of

the household; but there is one other person who for our

immediate purpose may be even more important. Henderson has two

children--girls of eleven and thirteen. Their governess is a

Miss Burnet, an Englishwoman of forty or thereabouts. There is

also one confidential manservant. This little group forms the

real family, for their travel about together, and Henderson is a

great traveller, always on the move. It is only within the last

weeks that he has returned, after a year's absence, to High

Gable. I may add that he is enormously rich, and whatever his

whims may be he can very easily satisfy them. For the rest, his

house is full of butlers, footmen, maidservants, and the usual

overfed, underworked staff of a large English country house.

"So much I learned partly from village gossip and partly from my

own observation. There are no better instruments than discharged

servants with a grievance, and I was lucky enough to find one. I

call it luck, but it would not have come my way had I not been

looking out for it. As Baynes remarks, we all have our systems.

It was my system which enabled me to find John Warner, late

gardener of High Gable, sacked in a moment of temper by his

imperious employer. He in turn had friends among the indoor

servants who unite in their fear and dislike of their master. So

I had my key to the secrets of the establishment.

"Curious people, Watson! I don't pretend to understand it all

yet, but very curious people anyway. It's a double-winged house,

and the servants live on one side, the family on the other.

There's no link between the two save for Henderson's own servant,

who serves the family's meals. Everything is carried to a

certain door, which forms the one connection. Governess and

children hardly go out at all, except into the garden. Henderson

never by any chance walks alone. His dark secretary is like his

shadow. The gossip among the servants is that their master is

terribly afraid of something. 'Sold his soul to the devil in

exchange for money,' says Warner, 'and expects his creditor to

come up and claim his own.' Where they came from, or who they

are, nobody has an idea. They are very violent. Twice Henderson

has lashed at folk with his dog-whip, and only his long purse and

heavy compensation have kept him out of the courts.

"Well, now, Watson, let us judge the situation by this new

information. We may take it that the letter came out of this

strange household and was an invitation to Garcia to carry out

some attempt which had already been planned. Who wrote the note?

It was someone within the citadel, and it was a woman. Who then

but Miss Burnet, the governess? All our reasoning seems to point

that way. At any rate, we may take it as a hypothesis and see

what consequences it would entail. I may add that Miss Burnet's

age and character make it certain that my first idea that there

might be a love interest in our story is out of the question.

"If she wrote the note she was presumably the friend and

confederate of Garcia. What, then, might she be expected to do

if she heard of his death? If he met it in some nefarious

enterprise her lips might be sealed. Still, in her heart, she

must retain bitterness and hatred against those who had killed

him and would presumably help so far as she could to have revenge

upon them. Could we see her, then and try to use her? That was

my first thought. But now we come to a sinister fact. Miss

Burnet has not been seen by any human eye since the night of the

murder. From that evening she has utterly vanished. Is she

alive? Has she perhaps met her end on the same night as the

friend whom she had summoned? Or is she merely a prisoner?

There is the point which we still have to decide.

"You will appreciate the difficulty of the situation, Watson.

There is nothing upon which we can apply for a warrant. Our

whole scheme might seem fantastic if laid before a magistrate.

The woman's disappearance counts for nothing, since in that

extraordinary household any member of it might be invisible for a

week. And yet she may at the present moment be in danger of her

life. All I can do is to watch the house and leave my agent,

Warner, on guard at the gates. We can't let such a situation

continue. If the law can do nothing we must take the risk


"What do you suggest?"

"I know which is her room. It is accessible from the top of an

outhouse. My suggestion is that you and I go to-night and see if

we can strike at the very heart of the mystery."

It was not, I must confess, a very alluring prospect. The old

house with its atmosphere of murder, the singular and formidable

inhabitants, the unknown dangers of the approach, and the fact

that we were putting ourselves legally in a false position all

combined to damp my ardour. But there was something in the

ice-cold reasoning of Holmes which made it impossible to shrink

from any adventure which he might recommend. One knew that thus,

and only thus, could a solution be found. I clasped his hand

in silence, and the die was cast.

But it was not destined that our investigation should have so

adventurous an ending. It was about five o'clock, and the

shadows of the March evening were beginning to fall, when an

excited rustic rushed into our room.

"They've gone, Mr. Holmes. They went by the last train. The

lady broke away, and I've got her in a cab downstairs."

"Excellent, Warner!" cried Holmes, springing to his feet.

"Watson, the gaps are closing rapidly."

In the cab was a woman, half-collapsed from nervous exhaustion.

She bore upon her aquiline and emaciated face the traces of some

recent tragedy. Her head hung listlessly upon her breast, but as

she raised it and turned her dull eyes upon us I saw that her

pupils were dark dots in the centre of the broad gray iris. She

was drugged with opium.

"I watched at the gate, same as you advised, Mr. Holmes," said

our emissary, the discharged gardener. "When the carriage came

out I followed it to the station. She was like one walking in

her sleep, but when they tried to get her into the train she came

to life and struggled. They pushed her into the carriage. She

fought her way out again. I took her part, got her into a cab,

and here we are. I shan't forget the face at the carriage window

as I led her away. I'd have a short life if he had his way--the

black-eyed, scowling, yellow devil."

We carried her upstairs, laid her on the sofa, and a couple of

cups of the strongest coffee soon cleared her brain from the

mists of the drug. Baynes had been summoned by Holmes, and the

situation rapidly explained to him.

"Why, sir, you've got me the very evidence I want," said the

inspector warmly, shaking my friend by the hand. "I was on the

same scent as you from the first."

"What! You were after Henderson?"

"Why, Mr. Holmes, when you were crawling in the shrubbery at High

Gable I was up one of the trees in the plantation and saw you

down below. It was just who would get his evidence first."

"Then why did you arrest the mulatto?"

Baynes chuckled.

"I was sure Henderson, as he calls himself, felt that he was

suspected, and that he would lie low and make no move so long as

he thought he was in any danger. I arrested the wrong man to

make him believe that our eyes were off him. I knew he would be

likely to clear off then and give us a chance of getting at Miss


Holmes laid his hand upon the inspector's shoulder.

"You will rise high in your profession. You have instinct and

intuition," said he.

Baynes flushed with pleasure.

"I've had a plain-clothes man waiting at the station all the

week. Wherever the High Gable folk go he will keep them in

sight. But he must have been hard put to it when Miss Burnet

broke away. However, your man picked her up, and it all ends

well. We can't arrest without her evidence, that is clear, so

the sooner we get a statement the better."

"Every minute she gets stronger," said Holmes, glancing at the

governess. "But tell me, Baynes, who is this man Henderson?"

"Henderson," the inspector answered, "is Don Murillo, once call

the Tiger of San Pedro."

The Tiger of San Pedro! The whole history of the man came back

to me in a flash. He had made his name as the most lewd and

bloodthirsty tyrant that had ever governed any country with a

pretence to civilization. Strong, fearless, and energetic, he

had sufficient virtue to enable him to impose his odious vices

upon a cowering people for ten or twelve years. His name was a

terror through all Central America. At the end of that time

there was a universal rising against him. But he was as cunning

as he was cruel, and at the first whisper of coming trouble he

had secretly conveyed his treasures aboard a ship which was

manned by devoted adherents. It was an empty palace which was

stormed by the insurgents next day. The dictator, his two

children, his secretary, and his wealth had all escaped them.

From that moment he had vanished from the world, and his identity

had been a frequent subject for comment in the European press.

"Yes, sir, Don Murillo, the Tiger of San Pedro," said Baynes.

"If you look it up you will find that the San Pedro colours are

green and white, same as in the note, Mr. Holmes. Henderson he

called himself, but I traced him back, Paris and Rome and Madrid

to Barcelona, where his ship came in in '86. They've been

looking for him all the time for their revenge, but it is only

now that they have begun to find him out."

"They discovered him a year ago," said Miss Burnet, who had sat

up and was now intently following the conversation. "Once

already his life has been attempted, but some evil spirit

shielded him. Now, again, it is the noble, chivalrous Garcia who

has fallen, while the monster goes safe. But another will come,

and yet another, until some day justice will be done; that is as

certain as the rise of to-morrow's sun." Her thin hands

clenched, and her worn face blanched with the passion of her


"But how come you into this matter, Miss Burnet?" asked Holmes.

"How can an English lady join in such a murderous affair?"

"I join in it because there is no other way in the world by which

justice can be gained. What does the law of England care for the

rivers of blood shed years ago in San Pedro, or for the shipload

of treasure which this man has stolen? To you they are like

crimes committed in some other planet. But we know. We have

learned the truth in sorrow and in suffering. To us there is no

fiend in hell like Juan Murillo, and no peace in life while his

victims still cry for vengeance."

"No doubt," said Holmes, "he was as you say. I have heard that he

was atrocious. But how are you affected?"

"I will tell you it all. This villain's policy was to murder, on

one pretext or another, every man who showed such promise that he

might in time come to be a dangerous rival. My husband--yes, my

real name is Signora Victor Durando--was the San Pedro minister

in London. He met me and married me there. A nobler man never

lived upon earth. Unhappily, Murillo heard of his excellence,

recalled him on some pretext, and had him shot. With a

premonition of his fate he had refused to take me with him. His

estates were confiscated, and I was left with a pittance and a

broken heart.

"Then came the downfall of the tyrant. He escaped as you have

just described. But the many whose lives he had ruined, whose

nearest and dearest had suffered torture and death at his hands,

would not let the matter rest. They banded themselves into a

society which should never be dissolved until the work was done.

It was my part after we had discovered in the transformed

Henderson the fallen despot, to attach myself to his household

and keep the others in touch with his movements. This I was able

to do by securing the position of governess in his family. He

little knew that the woman who faced him at every meal was the

woman whose husband he had hurried at an hour's notice into

eternity. I smiled on him, did my duty to his children, and

bided my time. An attempt was made in Paris and failed. We

zig-zagged swiftly here and there over Europe to throw off the

pursuers and finally returned to this house, which he had taken

upon his first arrival in England.

"But here also the ministers of justice were waiting. Knowing

that he would return there, Garcia, who is the son of the former

highest dignitary in San Pedro, was waiting with two trusty

companions of humble station, all three fired with the same

reasons for revenge. He could do little during the day, for

Murillo took every precaution and never went out save with his

satellite Lucas, or Lopez as he was known in the days of his

greatness. At night, however, he slept alone, and the avenger

might find him. On a certain evening, which had been

prearranged, I sent my friend final instructions, for the man was

forever on the alert and continually changed his room. I was to

see that the doors were open and the signal of a green or white

light in a window which faced the drive was to give notice if all

was safe or if the attempt had better be postponed.

"But everything went wrong with us. In some way I had excited

the suspicion of Lopez, the secretary. He crept up behind me and

sprang upon me just as I had finished the note. He and his

master dragged me to my room and held judgment upon me as a

convicted traitress. Then and there they would have plunged

their knives into me could they have seen how to escape the

consequences of the deed. Finally, after much debate, they

concluded that my murder was too dangerous. But they determined

to get rid forever of Garcia. They had gagged me, and Murillo

twisted my arm round until I gave him the address. I swear that

he might have twisted it off had I understood what it would mean

to Garcia. Lopez addressed the note which I had written, sealed

it with his sleeve-link, and sent it by the hand of the servant,

Jose. How they murdered him I do not know, save that it was

Murillo's hand who struck him down, for Lopez had remained to

guard me. I believe he must have waited among the gorse bushes

through which the path winds and struck him down as he passed.

At first they were of a mind to let him enter the house and to

kill him as a detected burglar; but they argued that if they were

mixed up in an inquiry their own identity would at once be

publicly disclosed and they would be open to further attacks.

With the death of Garcia, the pursuit might cease, since such a

death might frighten others from the task.

"All would now have been well for them had it not been for my

knowledge of what they had done. I have no doubt that there were

times when my life hung in the balance. I was confined to my

room, terrorized by the most horrible threats, cruelly ill-used

to break my spirit--see this stab on my shoulder and the bruises

from end to end of my arms--and a gag was thrust into my mouth on

the one occasion when I tried to call from the window. For five

days this cruel imprisonment continued, with hardly enough food

to hold body and soul together. This afternoon a good lunch was

brought me, but the moment after I took it I knew that I had been

drugged. In a sort of dream I remember being half-led, half-

carried to the carriage; in the same state I was conveyed to the

train. Only then, when the wheels were almost moving, did I

suddenly realize that my liberty lay in my own hands. I sprang

out, they tried to drag me back, and had it not been for the help

of this good man, who led me to the cab, I should never had

broken away. Now, thank God, I am beyond their power forever."

We had all listened intently to this remarkable statement. It

was Holmes who broke the silence.

"Our difficulties are not over," he remarked, shaking his head.

"Our police work ends, but our legal work begins."

"Exactly," said I. "A plausible lawyer could make it out as an

act of self-defence. There may be a hundred crimes in the

background, but it is only on this one that they can be tried."

"Come, come," said Baynes cheerily, "I think better of the law

than that. Self-defence is one thing. To entice a man in cold

blood with the object of murdering him is another, whatever

danger you may fear from him. No, no, we shall all be justified

when we see the tenants of High Gable at the next Guildford


* * *

It is a matter of history, however, that a little time was still

to elapse before the Tiger of San Pedro should meet with his

deserts. Wily and bold, he and his companion threw their pursuer

off their track by entering a lodging-house in Edmonton Street

and leaving by the back-gate into Curzon Square. From that day

they were seen no more in England. Some six months afterwards

the Marquess of Montalva and Signor Rulli, his secretary, were

both murdered in their rooms at the Hotel Escurial at Madrid.

The crime was ascribed to Nihilism, and the murderers were never

arrested. Inspector Baynes visited us at Baker Street with a

printed description of the dark face of the secretary, and of the

masterful features, the magnetic black eyes, and the tufted brows

of his master. We could not doubt that justice, if belated, had

come at last.

"A chaotic case, my dear Watson," said Holmes over an evening

pipe. "It will not be possible for you to present in that compact

form which is dear to your heart. It covers two continents,

concerns two groups of mysterious persons, and is further

complicated by the highly respectable presence of our friend,

Scott Eccles, whose inclusion shows me that the deceased Garcia

had a scheming mind and a well-developed instinct of self-

preservation. It is remarkable only for the fact that amid a

perfect jungle of possibilities we, with our worthy collaborator,

the inspector, have kept our close hold on the essentials and so

been guided along the crooked and winding path. Is there any

point which is not quite clear to you?"

"The object of the mulatto cook's return?"

"I think that the strange creature in the kitchen may account for

it. The man was a primitive savage from the backwoods of San

Pedro, and this was his fetish. When his companion and he had

fled to some prearranged retreat--already occupied, no doubt by a

confederate--the companion had persuaded him to leave so

compromising an article of furniture. But the mulatto's heart

was with it, and he was driven back to it next day, when, on

reconnoitering through the window, he found policeman Walters in

possession. He waited three days longer, and then his piety or

his superstition drove him to try once more. Inspector Baynes,

who, with his usual astuteness, had minimized the incident before

me, had really recognized its importance and had left a trap into

which the creature walked. Any other point, Watson?"

"The torn bird, the pail of blood, the charred bones, all the

mystery of that weird kitchen?"

Holmes smiled as he turned up an entry in his note-book.

"I spent a morning in the British Museum reading up on that and

other points. Here is a quotation from Eckermann's Voodooism and

the Negroid Religions:

"'The true voodoo-worshipper attempts nothing of importance

without certain sacrifices which are intended to propitiate his

unclean gods. In extreme cases these rites take the form of

human sacrifices followed by cannibalism. The more usual victims

are a white cock, which is plucked in pieces alive, or a black

goat, whose throat is cut and body burned.'

"So you see our savage friend was very orthodox in his ritual.

It is grotesque, Watson," Holmes added, as he slowly fastened his

notebook, "but, as I have had occasion to remark, there is but

one step from the grotesque to the horrible."