When I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock Holmes cases between the years '82 and '90, I am faced by so many which present strange and interesting features that it is no easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave. Some, however, have already gained publicity through the papers, and others have not offered a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to illustrate.

Some, too, have baffled his analytical

skill, and would be, as narratives, beginnings without an ending,

while others have been but partially cleared up, and have their

explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on

that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him. There is,

however, one of these last which was so remarkable in its details

and so startling in its results that I am tempted to give some

account of it in spite of the fact that there are points in

connection with it which never have been, and probably never will

be, entirely cleared up.

The year '87 furnished us with a long series of cases of

greater or less interest, of which I retain the records. Among my

headings under this one twelve months I find an account of the

adventure of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant

Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a

furniture warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the

British bark Sophy Anderson, of the singular adventures of the

Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally of the

Camberwell poisoning case. In the latter, as may be remembered,

Sherlock Holmes was able, by winding up the dead man's watch, to

prove that it had been wound up two hours before, and that

therefore the deceased had gone to bed within that time??a

deduction which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the

case. All these I may sketch out at some future date, but none of

them present such singular features as the strange train of

circumstances which I have now taken up my pen to describe.

It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial

gales had set in with exceptional violence. All day the wind had

screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even

here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to

raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life, and to

recognize the presence of those great elemental forces which

shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilization, like

untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew

higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in

the chimney. Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the

fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the

other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories until

the howl of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text,

and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of

the sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother's, and for a

few days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker


"Why," said I, glancing up at my companion, "that was surely

the bell. Who could come to-night? Some friend of yours,


"Except yourself I have none," he answered. "I do not

encourage visitors."

"A client, then?"

"If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man

out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is

more likely to be some crony of the landlady's."

Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for

there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. He

stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and

towards the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit. "Come

in!" said he.

The man who entered was young, some two-and-twenty at the

outside, well-groomed and trimly clad, with something of

refinement and delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella

which he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told of

the fierce weather through which he had come. He looked about him

anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his face

was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man who is weighed

down with some great anxiety.

"I owe you an apology," he said, raising his golden pince-nez

to his eyes. "I trust that I am not intruding. I fear that I

have brought some traces of the storm and rain into your snug


"Give me your coat and umbrella," said Holmes. "They may rest

here on the hook and will be dry presently. You have come up from

the south-west, I see."

"Yes, from Horsham."

"That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon your toe caps is

quite distinctive."

"I have come for advice."

"That is easily got."

"And help."

"That is not always so easy."

"I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard from Major

Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal."

"Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at


"He said that you could solve anything."

"He said too much."

"That you are never beaten."

"I have been beaten four times??three times by men, and once

by a woman."

"But what is that compared with the number of your successes?"

"It is true that I have been generally successful."

"Then you may be so with me."

"I beg that you will draw your chair up to the fire and favour

me with some details as to your case."

"It is no ordinary one."

"None of those which come to me are. I am the last court of


"And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you

have ever listened to a more mysterious and inexplicable chain of

events than those which have happened in my own family."

"You fill me with interest," said Holmes. "Pray give us the

essential facts from the commencement, and I can afterwards

question you as to those details which seem to me to be most


The young man pulled his chair up and pushed his wet feet out

towards the blaze.

"My name," said he, "is John Openshaw, but my own affairs

have, as far as I can understand, little to do with this awful

business. It is a hereditary matter; so in order to give you an

idea of the facts, I must go back to the commencement of the


"You must know that my grandfather had two sons??my uncle

Elias and my father Joseph. My father had a small factory at

Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the invention of

bicycling. He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire,

and his business met with such success that he was able to sell it

and to retire upon a handsome competence.

"My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young man

and became a planter in Florida, where he was reported to have

done very well. At the time of the war he fought in Jackson's

army, and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be a colonel.

When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his plantation,

where he remained for three or four years. About 1869 or 1870 he

came back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex, near

Horsham. He had made a very considerable fortune in the States,

and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to the negroes,

and his dislike of the Republican policy in extending the

franchise to them. He was a singular man, fierce and

quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was angry, and of a most

retiring disposition. During all the years that he lived at

Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the town. He had a garden

and two or three fields round his house, and there he would take

his exercise, though very often for weeks on end he would never

leave his room. He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very

heavily, but he would see no society and did not want any friends,

not even his own brother.

"He didn't mind me; in fact, he took a fancy to me, for at the

time when he saw me first I was a youngster of twelve or so. This

would be in the year 1878, after he had been eight or nine years

in England. He begged my father to let me live with him, and he

was very kind to me in his way. When he was sober he used to be

fond of playing backgammon and draughts with me, and he would make

me his representative both with the servants and with the

tradespeople, so that by the time that I was sixteen I was quite

master of the house. I kept all the keys and could go where I