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(pt II.)

At three o'clock precisely I was at Baker Street, but Holmes had

not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left the

house shortly after eight o'clock in the morning. I sat down

beside the fire, however, with the intention of awaiting him,

however long he might be. I was already deeply interested in his

inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and

strange features which were associated with the two crimes which

I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and the

exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own.

Indeed, apart from the nature of the investigation which my

friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of

a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a

pleasure to me to study his system of work, and to follow the

quick, subtle methods by which he disentangled the most

inextricable mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invariable

success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to

enter into my head.

It was close upon four before the door opened, and a

drunkenlooking groom, ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an

inflamed face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room.

Accustomed as I was to my friend's amazing powers in the use of

disguises, I had to look three times before I was certain that it

was indeed he. With a nod he vanished into the bedroom, whence he

emerged in five minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old.

Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in

front of the fire and laughed heartily for some minutes.

"Well, really!" he cried, and then he choked and laughed again

until he was obliged to lie back, limp and helpless, in the


"What is it?"

"It's quite too funny. I am sure you could never guess how I

employed my morning, or what I ended by doing."

"I can't imagine. I suppose that you have been watching the

habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler."

"Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I will tell you,

however. I left the house a little after eight o'clock this

morning in the character of a groom out of work. There is a

wonderful sympathy and freemasonry among horsy men. Be one of

them, and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found

Briony Lodge. It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back. but

built out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock

to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well

furnished, with long windows almost to the floor, and those

preposterous English window fasteners which a child could open.

Behind there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage window

could be reached from the top of the coach-house. I walked round

it and examined it closely from every point of view, but without

noting anything else of interest.

"I then lounged down the street and found, as I expected, that

there was a mews in a lane which runs down by one wall of the

garden. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses,

and received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and half, two

fills of shag tobacco, and as much information as I could desire

about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen other people in

the neighborhood in whom I was not in the least interested, but

whose biographies I was compelled to listen to."

"And what of Irene Adler?" I asked.

"Oh, she has turned all the men's heads down in that part. She is

the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet. So say the

Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts,

drives out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp for

dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except when she sings.

Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He is dark,

handsome, and dashing, never calls less than once a day, and

often twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner Temple. See

the advantages of a cabman as a confidant. They had driven him

home a dozen times from Serpentine-mews, and knew all about him.

When I had listened to all they had to tell, I began to walk up

and down near Briony Lodge once more, and to think over my plan

of campaign.

"This Godfrey Norton was evidently an important factor in the

matter. He was a lawyer. That sounded ominous. What was the

relation between them, and what the object of his repeated

visits? Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the

former, she had probably transferred the photograph to his

keeping. If the latter, it was less likely. On the issue of this

question depended whether I should continue my work at Briony

Lodge, or turn my attention to the gentleman's chambers in the

Temple. It was a delicate point. and it widened the field of my

inquiry. I fear that I bore you with these details, but I have to

let you see my little difficulties, if you are to understand the


"I am following you closely," I answered.

"I was still balancing the matter in my mind when a hansom cab

drove up to Briony Lodge, and a gentleman sprang out. He was a

remarkably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and moustached--

evidently the man of whom I had heard. He appeared to be in a

great hurry, shouted to the cabman to wait, and brushed past the

maid who opened the door with the air of a man who was thoroughly

at home.

"He was in the house about half an hour, and I could catch

glimpses of him in the windows of the sitting-room, pacing up and

down, talking excitedly, and waving his arms. Of her I could see

nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more flurried than

before. As he stepped up to the cab, he pulled a gold watch from

his pocket and looked at it earnestly, 'Drive like the devil,' he

shouted, 'first to Gross & Hankey's in Regent Street, and then to

the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware Road. Half a guinea if

you do it in twenty minutes!'

"Away they went, and I was just wondering whether I should not do

well to follow them when up the lane came a neat little landau,

the coachman with his coat only half-buttoned, and his tie under

his ear, while all the tags of his harness were sticking out of

the buckles. It hadn't pulled up before she shot out of the hall

door and into it. I only caught a glimpse of her at the moment,

but she was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might die for.

"'The Church of St. Monica, John,' she cried, 'and half a

sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.'

"This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I was just balancing

whether I should run for it, or whether I should perch behind her

landau when a cab came through the street. The driver looked

twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before he could

object. 'The Church of St. Monica,' said I, 'and half a sovereign

if you reach it in twenty minutes.' It was twenty-five minutes to

twelve, and of course it was clear enough what was in the wind.

"My cabby drove fast. I don't think I ever drove faster, but the

others were there before us. The cab and the landau with their

steaming horses were in front of the door when I arrived. I paid

the man and hurried into the church. There was not a soul there

save the two whom I had followed and a surpliced clergyman, who

seemed to be expostulating with them. They were all three

standing in a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the side

aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a church.

Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the altar faced round to

me, and Godfrey Norton came running as hard as he could towards


"Thank God," he cried. "You'll do. Come! Come!"

"What then?" I asked.

"Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it won't be legal."

I was half-dragged up to the altar, and before I knew where I was

I found myself mumbling responses which were whispered in my ear.

and vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and generally

assisting in the secure tying up of Irene Adler, spinster, to

Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It was all done in an instant, and

there was the gentleman thanking me on the one side and the lady

on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me in front. It was

the most preposterous position in which I ever found myself in my

life, and it was the thought of it that started me laughing just

now. It seems that there had been some informality about their

license, that the clergyman absolutely refused to marry them

without a witness of some sort, and that my lucky appearance

saved the bridegroom from having to sally out into the streets in

search of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and I mean

to wear it on my watch-chain in memory of the occasion."

"This is a very unexpected turn of affairs," said I; "and what


"Well, I found my plans very seriously menaced. It looked as if

the pair might take an immediate departure, and so necessitate

very prompt and energetic measures on my part. At the church

door, however, they separated, he driving back to the Temple, and

she to her own house. 'I shall drive out in the park at five as

usual,' she said as she left him. I heard no more. They drove

away in different directions, and I went off to make my own


"Which are?"

"Some cold beef and a glass of beer," he answered, ringing the

bell. "I have been too busy to think of food, and I am likely to

be busier still this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want

your cooperation."

"I shall be delighted."

"You don't mind breaking the law?"

"Not in the least."

"Nor running a chance of arrest?"

"Not in a good cause."

"Oh, the cause is excellent!"

"Then I am your man."

"I was sure that I might rely on you."

"But what is it you wish?"

"When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to

you. Now," he said as he turned hungrily on the simple fare that

our landlady had provided, "I must discuss it while I eat, for I

have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours we must

be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, returns

from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her."

"And what then?"

"You must leave that to me. I have already arranged what is to

occur. There is only one point on which I must insist. You must

not interfere, come what may. You understand?"

"I am to be neutral?"

"To do nothing whatever. There will probably be some small

unpleasantness. Do not join in it. It will end in my being

conveyed into the house. Four or five minutes afterwards the

sitting-room window will open. You are to station yourself close

to that open window."


"You are to watch me, for I will be visible to you."


"And when I raise my hand--so--you will throw into the room what

I give you to throw, and will, at the same time, raise the cry of

fire. You quite follow me?"


"It is nothing very formidable," he said, taking a long cigar-

shaped roll from his pocket. "It is an ordinary plumber's smoke-

rocket, fitted with a cap at either end to make it self-lighting.

Your task is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire,

it will be taken up by quite a number of people. You may then

walk to the end of the street, and I will rejoin you in ten

minutes. I hope that I have made myself clear?"

"I am to remain neutral, to get near the window, to watch you,

and at the signal to throw in this object, then to raise the cry

of fire, and to wait you at the corner of the street."


"Then you may entirely rely on me."

"That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost time that I

prepare for the new role I have to play."

He disappeared into his bedroom and returned in a few minutes in

the character of an amiable and simple-minded Nonconformist

clergyman. His broad black hat, his baggy trousers. his white

tie, his sympathetic smile, and general look of peering and

benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John Hare alone could have

equalled. It was not merely that Holmes changed his costume. His

expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with every

fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a fine actor, even as

science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in


It was a quarter past six when we left Baker Street, and it still

wanted ten minutes to the hour when we found ourselves in

Serpentine Avenue. It was already dusk, and the lamps were just

being lighted as we paced up and down in front of Briony Lodge,

waiting for the coming of its occupant. The house was just such

as I had pictured it from Sherlock Holmes's succinct description,

but the locality appeared to be less private than I expected. On

the contrary, for a small street in a quiet neighborhood, it was

remarkably animated. There was a group of shabbily dressed men

smoking and laughing in a corner, a scissors-grinder with his

wheel, two guardsmen who were flirting with a nurse-girl, and

several well-dressed young men who were lounging up and down with

cigars in their mouths.

"You see," remarked Holmes, as we paced to and fro in front of

the house, "this marriage rather simplifies matters. The

photograph becomes a double-edged weapon now. The chances are

that she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey

Norton, as our client is to its coming to the eyes of his

princess. Now the question is, Where are we to find the


"Where, indeed?"

"It is most unlikely that she carries it about with her. It is

cabinet size. Too large for easy concealment about a woman's

dress. She knows that the King is capable of having her waylaid

and searched. Two attempts of the sort have already been made. We

may take it, then, that she does not carry it about with her."

"Where, then?"

"Her banker or her lawyer. There is that double possibility. But

I am inclined to think neither. Women are naturally secretive,

and they like to do their own secreting. Why should she hand it

over to anyone else? She could trust her own guardianship, but

she could not tell what indirect or political influence might be

brought to bear upon a business man. Besides, remember that she

had resolved to use it within a few days. It must be where she

can lay her hands upon it. It must be in her own house."

"But it has twice been burgled."

"Pshaw! They did not know how to look."

"But how will you look?"

"I will not look."

"What then?"

"I will get her to show me."

"But she will refuse."

"She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble of wheels. It is

hcr carriage. Now carry out my orders to the letter."

As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a carriage came round

the curve of the avenue. It was a smart little landau which

rattled up to the door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of

the loafing men at the corner dashed forward to open the door in

the hope of earning a copper, but was elbowed away by another

loafer, who had rushed up with the same intention. A fierce

quarrel broke out, which was increased by the two guardsmen, who

took sides with one of the loungers, and by the scissorsgrinder,

who was equally hot upon the other side. A blow was struck, and

in an instant the lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was

the centre of a little knot of flushed and struggling men, who

struck savagely at each other with their fists and sticks. Holmes

dashed into the crowd to protect the lady; but just as he reached

her he gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with the blood

running freely down his face. At his fall the guardsmen took to

their heels in one direction and the loungers in the other, while

a number of better-dressed people, who had watched the scuffle

without taking part in it, crowded in to help the lady and to

attend to the injured man. Irene Adler, as I will still call her,

had hurried up the steps; but she stood at the top with her

superb figure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking

back into the street.

"Is the poor gentleman much hurt?" she asked.

"He is dead," cried several voices.

"No, no, there's life in him!" shouted another. "But he'll be

gone before you can get him to hospital."

"He's a brave fellow," said a woman. "They would have had the

lady's purse and watch if it hadn't been for him. They were a

gang, and a rough one, too. Ah, he's breathing now."

"He can't lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm?"

"Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There is a comfortable

sofa. This way, please!"

Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony Lodge and laid out

in the principal room, while I still observed the proceedings

from my post by the window. The lamps had been lit, but the

blinds had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as he lay

upon the couch. I do not know whether he was seized with

compunction at that moment for the part he was playing, but I

know that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life

than when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was

conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with which she waited

upon the injured man. And yet it would be the blackest treachery

to Holmes to draw back now from the part which he had intrusted

to me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke-rocket from under

my ulster. After all, I thought, we are not injuring her. We are

but preventing her from injuring another.

Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw him motion like a man

who is in need of air. A maid rushed across and threw open the

window. At the same instant I saw him raise his hand and at the

signal I tossed my rocket into the room with a cry of "Fire!" The

word was no sooner out of my mouth than the whole crowd of

spectators, well dressed and ill--gentlemen, ostlers, and

servant-maids--joined in a general shriek of "Fire!" Thick clouds

of smoke curled through the room and out at the open window. I

caught a glimpse of rushing figures, and a moment later the voice

of Holmes from within assuring them that it was a false alarm.

Slipping through the shouting crowd I made my way to the corner

of the street, and in ten minutes was rejoiced to find my

friend's arm in mine, and to get away from the scene of uproar.

He walked swiftly and in silence for some few minutes until we

had turned down one of the quiet streets which lead towards the

Edgeware Road.

"You did it very nicely, Doctor," he remarked. "Nothing could

have been better. It is all right."

"You have the photograph?"

"I know where it is."

"And how did you find out?"

"She showed me, as I told you she would."

"I am still in the dark."

"I do not wish to make a mystery," said he, laughing. "The matter

was perfectly simple. You, of course, saw that everyone in the

street was an accomplice. They were all engaged for the evening."

"I guessed as much."

"Then, when the row broke out, I had a little moist red paint in

the palm of my hand. I rushed forward, fell down. clapped my hand

to my face, and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old trick."

"That also I could fathom."

"Then they carried me in. She was bound to have me in. What else

could she do? And into her sitting-room. which was the very room

which I suspected. It lay between that and her bedroom, and I was

determined to see which. They laid me on a couch, I motioned for

air, they were compelled to open the window. and you had your


"How did that help you?"

"It was all-important. When a woman thinks that her house is on

fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she

values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and I have

more than once taken advantage of it. In the case of the

Darlington substitution scandal it was of use to me, and also in

the Arnsworth Castle business. A married woman grabs at her baby;

an unmarried one reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to

me that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house more precious

to her than what we are in quest of. She would rush to secure it.

The alarm of fire was admirably done. The smoke and shouting were

enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded beautifully. The

photograph is in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the

right bell-pull. She was there in an instant, and I caught a

glimpse of it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out that it

was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the rocket, rushed

from the room, and I have not seen her since. I rose, and, making

my excuses, escaped from the house. I hesitated whether to

attempt to secure the photograph at once; but the coachman had

come in, and as he was watching me narrowly it seemed safer to

wait. A little over-precipitance may ruin all."

"And now?" I asked.

"Our quest is practically finished. I shall call with the King

to-morrow, and with you, if you care to come with us. We will be

shown into the sitting-room to wait for the lady; but it is

probable that when she comes she may find neither us nor the

photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his Majesty to regain

it with his own hands."

"And when will you call?"

"At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so that we shall

have a clear field. Besides, we must be prompt, for this marriage

may mean a complete change in her life and habits. I must wire to

the King without delay."

We had reached Baker Street and had stopped at the door. He was

searching his pockets for the key when someone passing said:

"Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes."

There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the

greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had

hurried by.

"I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down the

dimly lit street. "Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have




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