The Resident Patient

Glancing over the somewhat incoherent series of Memoirs with which I

have endeavored to illustrate a few of the mental peculiarities of my

friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I have been struck by the difficulty which I

have experienced in picking out examples which shall in every way answer

my purpose. For in those cases in which Holmes has performed some tour

de force of analytical reasoning, and has demonstrated the value of his
r /> peculiar methods of investigation, the facts themselves have often been

so slight or so commonplace that I could not feel justified in laying

them before the public. On the other hand, it has frequently happened

that he has been concerned in some research where the facts have been of

the most remarkable and dramatic character, but where the share which he

has himself taken in determining their causes has been less pronounced

than I, as his biographer, could wish. The small matter which I have

chronicled under the heading of "A Study in Scarlet," and that other

later one connected with the loss of the Gloria Scott, may serve as

examples of this Scylla and Charybdis which are forever threatening the

historian. It may be that in the business of which I am now about to

write the part which my friend played is not sufficiently accentuated;

and yet the whole train of circumstances is so remarkable that I cannot

bring myself to omit it entirely from this series.

It had been a close, rainy day in October. Our blinds were half-drawn,

and Holmes lay curled upon the sofa, reading and re-reading a letter

which he had received by the morning post. For myself, my term of

service in India had trained me to stand heat better than cold, and

a thermometer of 90 was no hardship. But the paper was uninteresting.

Parliament had risen. Everybody was out of town, and I yearned for the

glades of the New Forest or the shingle of Southsea. A depleted bank

account had caused me to postpone my holiday, and as to my companion,

neither the country nor the sea presented the slightest attraction to

him. He loved to lie in the very centre of five millions of people, with

his filaments stretching out and running through them, responsive to

every little rumor or suspicion of unsolved crime. Appreciation of

Nature found no place among his many gifts, and his only change was

when he turned his mind from the evil-doer of the town to track down his

brother of the country.

Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had tossed

aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair, I fell into a

brown study. Suddenly my companion's voice broke in upon my thoughts.

"You are right, Watson," said he. "It does seem a very preposterous way

of settling a dispute."

"Most preposterous!" I exclaimed, and then, suddenly realizing how

he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and

stared at him in blank amazement.

"What is this, Holmes?" I cried. "This is beyond anything which I could

have imagined."

He laughed heartily at my perplexity.

"You remember," said he, "that some little time ago, when I read you the

passage in one of Poe's sketches, in which a close reasoner follows the

unspoken thought of his companion, you were inclined to treat the

matter as a mere tour de force of the author. On my remarking that I

was constantly in the habit of doing the same thing you expressed


"Oh, no!"

"Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly with your

eyebrows. So when I saw you throw down your paper and enter upon a train

of thought, I was very happy to have the opportunity of reading it

off, and eventually of breaking into it, as a proof that I had been in

rapport with you."

But I was still far from satisfied. "In the example which you read to

me," said I, "the reasoner drew his conclusions from the actions of the

man whom he observed. If I remember right, he stumbled over a heap

of stones, looked up at the stars, and so on. But I have been seated

quietly in my chair, and what clues can I have given you?"

"You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man as the

means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours are faithful


"Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my


"Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself

recall how your reverie commenced?"

"No, I cannot."

"Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which was the

action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a minute with

a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your

newly-framed picture of General Gordon, and I saw by the alteration in

your face that a train of thought had been started. But it did not lead

very far. Your eyes turned across to the unframed portrait of Henry Ward

Beecher which stands upon the top of your books. You then glanced up at

the wall, and of course your meaning was obvious. You were thinking

that if the portrait were framed it would just cover that bare space and

correspond with Gordon's picture over there."

"You have followed me wonderfully!" I exclaimed.

"So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your thoughts went

back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if you were studying

the character in his features. Then your eyes ceased to pucker, but

you continued to look across, and your face was thoughtful. You were

recalling the incidents of Beecher's career. I was well aware that you

could not do this without thinking of the mission which he undertook

on behalf of the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember

you expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he was

received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about

it that I knew you could not think of Beecher without thinking of that

also. When a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture,

I suspected that your mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when

I observed that your lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands

clinched, I was positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry

which was shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then,

again, your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling

upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand stole

towards your own old wound, and a smile quivered on your lips,

which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of settling

international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this point

I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was glad to find that

all my deductions had been correct."

"Absolutely!" said I. "And now that you have explained it, I confess

that I am as amazed as before."

"It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you. I should not

have intruded it upon your attention had you not shown some incredulity

the other day. But the evening has brought a breeze with it. What do you

say to a ramble through London?"

I was weary of our little sitting-room and gladly acquiesced. For

three hours we strolled about together, watching the ever-changing

kaleidoscope of life as it ebbs and flows through Fleet Street and the

Strand. His characteristic talk, with its keen observance of detail

and subtle power of inference held me amused and enthralled. It was ten

o'clock before we reached Baker Street again. A brougham was waiting at

our door.

"Hum! A doctor's--general practitioner, I perceive," said Holmes. "Not

been long in practice, but has had a good deal to do. Come to consult

us, I fancy! Lucky we came back!"

I was sufficiently conversant with Holmes's methods to be able to follow

his reasoning, and to see that the nature and state of the various

medical instruments in the wicker basket which hung in the lamplight

inside the brougham had given him the data for his swift deduction.

The light in our window above showed that this late visit was indeed

intended for us. With some curiosity as to what could have sent a

brother medico to us at such an hour, I followed Holmes into our


A pale, taper-faced man with sandy whiskers rose up from a chair by the

fire as we entered. His age may not have been more than three or four

and thirty, but his haggard expression and unhealthy hue told of a life

which has sapped his strength and robbed him of his youth. His manner

was nervous and shy, like that of a sensitive gentleman, and the thin

white hand which he laid on the mantelpiece as he rose was that of an

artist rather than of a surgeon. His dress was quiet and sombre--a black

frock-coat, dark trousers, and a touch of color about his necktie.

"Good-evening, doctor," said Holmes, cheerily. "I am glad to see that

you have only been waiting a very few minutes."

"You spoke to my coachman, then?"

"No, it was the candle on the side-table that told me. Pray resume your

seat and let me know how I can serve you."

"My name is Doctor Percy Trevelyan," said our visitor, "and I live at

403 Brook Street."

"Are you not the author of a monograph upon obscure nervous lesions?" I


His pale cheeks flushed with pleasure at hearing that his work was known

to me.

"I so seldom hear of the work that I thought it was quite dead," said

he. "My publishers gave me a most discouraging account of its sale. You

are yourself, I presume, a medical man?"

"A retired army surgeon."

"My own hobby has always been nervous disease. I should wish to make it

an absolute specialty, but, of course, a man must take what he can get

at first. This, however, is beside the question, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,

and I quite appreciate how valuable your time is. The fact is that a

very singular train of events has occurred recently at my house in Brook

Street, and to-night they came to such a head that I felt it was quite

impossible for me to wait another hour before asking for your advice and


Sherlock Holmes sat down and lit his pipe. "You are very welcome

to both," said he. "Pray let me have a detailed account of what the

circumstances are which have disturbed you."

"One or two of them are so trivial," said Dr. Trevelyan, "that really

I am almost ashamed to mention them. But the matter is so inexplicable,

and the recent turn which it has taken is so elaborate, that I shall

lay it all before you, and you shall judge what is essential and what is


"I am compelled, to begin with, to say something of my own college

career. I am a London University man, you know, and I am sure that your

will not think that I am unduly singing my own praises if I say that my

student career was considered by my professors to be a very promising

one. After I had graduated I continued to devote myself to research,

occupying a minor position in King's College Hospital, and I was

fortunate enough to excite considerable interest by my research into the

pathology of catalepsy, and finally to win the Bruce Pinkerton prize and

medal by the monograph on nervous lesions to which your friend has

just alluded. I should not go too far if I were to say that there was a

general impression at that time that a distinguished career lay before


"But the one great stumbling-block lay in my want of capital. As you

will readily understand, a specialist who aims high is compelled to

start in one of a dozen streets in the Cavendish Square quarter, all

of which entail enormous rents and furnishing expenses. Besides this

preliminary outlay, he must be prepared to keep himself for some years,

and to hire a presentable carriage and horse. To do this was quite

beyond my power, and I could only hope that by economy I might in ten

years' time save enough to enable me to put up my plate. Suddenly,

however, an unexpected incident opened up quite a new prospect to me.

"This was a visit from a gentleman of the name of Blessington, who was a

complete stranger to me. He came up to my room one morning, and plunged

into business in an instant.

"'You are the same Percy Trevelyan who has had so distinguished a career

and won a great prize lately?' said he.

"I bowed.

"'Answer me frankly,' he continued, 'for you will find it to your

interest to do so. You have all the cleverness which makes a successful

man. Have you the tact?'

"I could not help smiling at the abruptness of the question.

"'I trust that I have my share,' I said.

"'Any bad habits? Not drawn towards drink, eh?'

"'Really, sir!' I cried.

"'Quite right! That's all right! But I was bound to ask. With all these

qualities, why are you not in practice?'

"I shrugged my shoulders.

"'Come, come!' said he, in his bustling way. 'It's the old story. More

in your brains than in your pocket, eh? What would you say if I were to

start you in Brook Street?'

"I stared at him in astonishment.

"'Oh, it's for my sake, not for yours,' he cried. 'I'll be perfectly

frank with you, and if it suits you it will suit me very well. I have a

few thousands to invest, d'ye see, and I think I'll sink them in you.'

"'But why?' I gasped.

"'Well, it's just like any other speculation, and safer than most.'

"'What am I to do, then?'

"'I'll tell you. I'll take the house, furnish it, pay the maids, and run

the whole place. All you have to do is just to wear out your chair in

the consulting-room. I'll let you have pocket-money and everything. Then

you hand over to me three quarters of what you earn, and you keep the

other quarter for yourself.'

"This was the strange proposal, Mr. Holmes, with which the man

Blessington approached me. I won't weary you with the account of how

we bargained and negotiated. It ended in my moving into the house next

Lady-day, and starting in practice on very much the same conditions as

he had suggested. He came himself to live with me in the character of a

resident patient. His heart was weak, it appears, and he needed constant

medical supervision. He turned the two best rooms of the first floor

into a sitting-room and bedroom for himself. He was a man of singular

habits, shunning company and very seldom going out. His life was

irregular, but in one respect he was regularity itself. Every evening,

at the same hour, he walked into the consulting-room, examined the

books, put down five and three-pence for every guinea that I had earned,

and carried the rest off to the strong-box in his own room.

"I may say with confidence that he never had occasion to regret his

speculation. From the first it was a success. A few good cases and the

reputation which I had won in the hospital brought me rapidly to the

front, and during the last few years I have made him a rich man.

"So much, Mr. Holmes, for my past history and my relations with Mr.

Blessington. It only remains for me now to tell you what has occurred to

bring me here to-night.

"Some weeks ago Mr. Blessington came down to me in, as it seemed to me,

a state of considerable agitation. He spoke of some burglary which, he

said, had been committed in the West End, and he appeared, I remember,

to be quite unnecessarily excited about it, declaring that a day should

not pass before we should add stronger bolts to our windows and doors.

For a week he continued to be in a peculiar state of restlessness,

peering continually out of the windows, and ceasing to take the short

walk which had usually been the prelude to his dinner. From his manner

it struck me that he was in mortal dread of something or somebody, but

when I questioned him upon the point he became so offensive that I was

compelled to drop the subject. Gradually, as time passed, his fears

appeared to die away, and he had renewed his former habits, when a fresh

event reduced him to the pitiable state of prostration in which he now


"What happened was this. Two days ago I received the letter which I now

read to you. Neither address nor date is attached to it.

"'A Russian nobleman who is now resident in England,' it runs, 'would

be glad to avail himself of the professional assistance of Dr. Percy

Trevelyan. He has been for some years a victim to cataleptic attacks, on

which, as is well known, Dr. Trevelyan is an authority. He proposes to

call at about quarter past six to-morrow evening, if Dr. Trevelyan will

make it convenient to be at home.'

"This letter interested me deeply, because the chief difficulty in the

study of catalepsy is the rareness of the disease. You may believe,

then, that I was in my consulting-room when, at the appointed hour, the

page showed in the patient.

"He was an elderly man, thin, demure, and commonplace--by no means the

conception one forms of a Russian nobleman. I was much more struck by

the appearance of his companion. This was a tall young man, surprisingly

handsome, with a dark, fierce face, and the limbs and chest of a

Hercules. He had his hand under the other's arm as they entered, and

helped him to a chair with a tenderness which one would hardly have

expected from his appearance.

"'You will excuse my coming in, doctor,' said he to me, speaking English

with a slight lisp. 'This is my father, and his health is a matter of

the most overwhelming importance to me.'

"I was touched by this filial anxiety. 'You would, perhaps, care to

remain during the consultation?' said I.

"'Not for the world,' he cried with a gesture of horror. 'It is more

painful to me than I can express. If I were to see my father in one of

these dreadful seizures I am convinced that I should never survive

it. My own nervous system is an exceptionally sensitive one. With your

permission, I will remain in the waiting-room while you go into my

father's case.'

"To this, of course, I assented, and the young man withdrew. The patient

and I then plunged into a discussion of his case, of which I took

exhaustive notes. He was not remarkable for intelligence, and his

answers were frequently obscure, which I attributed to his limited

acquaintance with our language. Suddenly, however, as I sat writing,

he ceased to give any answer at all to my inquiries, and on my turning

towards him I was shocked to see that he was sitting bolt upright in his

chair, staring at me with a perfectly blank and rigid face. He was again

in the grip of his mysterious malady.

"My first feeling, as I have just said, was one of pity and horror.

My second, I fear, was rather one of professional satisfaction. I made

notes of my patient's pulse and temperature, tested the rigidity of his

muscles, and examined his reflexes. There was nothing markedly abnormal

in any of these conditions, which harmonized with my former experiences.

I had obtained good results in such cases by the inhalation of nitrite

of amyl, and the present seemed an admirable opportunity of testing

its virtues. The bottle was downstairs in my laboratory, so leaving my

patient seated in his chair, I ran down to get it. There was some little

delay in finding it--five minutes, let us say--and then I returned.

Imagine my amazement to find the room empty and the patient gone.

"Of course, my first act was to run into the waiting-room. The son had

gone also. The hall door had been closed, but not shut. My page who

admits patients is a new boy and by no means quick. He waits downstairs,

and runs up to show patients out when I ring the consulting-room bell.

He had heard nothing, and the affair remained a complete mystery. Mr.

Blessington came in from his walk shortly afterwards, but I did not say

anything to him upon the subject, for, to tell the truth, I have got in

the way of late of holding as little communication with him as possible.

"Well, I never thought that I should see anything more of the Russian

and his son, so you can imagine my amazement when, at the very same hour

this evening, they both came marching into my consulting-room, just as

they had done before.

"'I feel that I owe you a great many apologies for my abrupt departure

yesterday, doctor,' said my patient.

"'I confess that I was very much surprised at it,' said I.

"'Well, the fact is,' he remarked, 'that when I recover from these

attacks my mind is always very clouded as to all that has gone before. I

woke up in a strange room, as it seemed to me, and made my way out into

the street in a sort of dazed way when you were absent.'

"'And I,' said the son, 'seeing my father pass the door of the

waiting-room, naturally thought that the consultation had come to an

end. It was not until we had reached home that I began to realize the

true state of affairs.'

"'Well,' said I, laughing, 'there is no harm done except that you

puzzled me terribly; so if you, sir, would kindly step into the

waiting-room I shall be happy to continue our consultation which was

brought to so abrupt an ending.'

"'For half an hour or so I discussed that old gentleman's symptoms with

him, and then, having prescribed for him, I saw him go off upon the arm

of his son.

"I have told you that Mr. Blessington generally chose this hour of the

day for his exercise. He came in shortly afterwards and passed upstairs.

An instant later I heard him running down, and he burst into my

consulting-room like a man who is mad with panic.

"'Who has been in my room?' he cried.

"'No one,' said I.

"'It's a lie! He yelled. 'Come up and look!'

"I passed over the grossness of his language, as he seemed half out of

his mind with fear. When I went upstairs with him he pointed to several

footprints upon the light carpet.

"'D'you mean to say those are mine?' he cried.

"They were certainly very much larger than any which he could have made,

and were evidently quite fresh. It rained hard this afternoon, as you

know, and my patients were the only people who called. It must have been

the case, then, that the man in the waiting-room had, for some unknown

reason, while I was busy with the other, ascended to the room of my

resident patient. Nothing had been touched or taken, but there were the

footprints to prove that the intrusion was an undoubted fact.

"Mr. Blessington seemed more excited over the matter than I should have

thought possible, though of course it was enough to disturb anybody's

peace of mind. He actually sat crying in an arm-chair, and I could

hardly get him to speak coherently. It was his suggestion that I should

come round to you, and of course I at once saw the propriety of it,

for certainly the incident is a very singular one, though he appears to

completely overrate its importance. If you would only come back with me

in my brougham, you would at least be able to soothe him, though I

can hardly hope that you will be able to explain this remarkable


Sherlock Holmes had listened to this long narrative with an intentness

which showed me that his interest was keenly aroused. His face was as

impassive as ever, but his lids had drooped more heavily over his eyes,

and his smoke had curled up more thickly from his pipe to emphasize each

curious episode in the doctor's tale. As our visitor concluded, Holmes

sprang up without a word, handed me my hat, picked his own from the

table, and followed Dr. Trevelyan to the door. Within a quarter of an

hour we had been dropped at the door of the physician's residence

in Brook Street, one of those sombre, flat-faced houses which one

associates with a West-End practice. A small page admitted us, and we

began at once to ascend the broad, well-carpeted stair.

But a singular interruption brought us to a standstill. The light at

the top was suddenly whisked out, and from the darkness came a reedy,

quivering voice.

"I have a pistol," it cried. "I give you my word that I'll fire if you

come any nearer."

"This really grows outrageous, Mr. Blessington," cried Dr. Trevelyan.

"Oh, then it is you, doctor," said the voice, with a great heave of

relief. "But those other gentlemen, are they what they pretend to be?"

We were conscious of a long scrutiny out of the darkness.

"Yes, yes, it's all right," said the voice at last. "You can come up,

and I am sorry if my precautions have annoyed you."

He relit the stair gas as he spoke, and we saw before us a

singular-looking man, whose appearance, as well as his voice, testified

to his jangled nerves. He was very fat, but had apparently at some time

been much fatter, so that the skin hung about his face in loose pouches,

like the cheeks of a blood-hound. He was of a sickly color, and his

thin, sandy hair seemed to bristle up with the intensity of his emotion.

In his hand he held a pistol, but he thrust it into his pocket as we


"Good-evening, Mr. Holmes," said he. "I am sure I am very much obliged

to you for coming round. No one ever needed your advice more than I do.

I suppose that Dr. Trevelyan has told you of this most unwarrantable

intrusion into my rooms."

"Quite so," said Holmes. "Who are these two men Mr. Blessington, and why

do they wish to molest you?"

"Well, well," said the resident patient, in a nervous fashion, "of

course it is hard to say that. You can hardly expect me to answer that,

Mr. Holmes."

"Do you mean that you don't know?"

"Come in here, if you please. Just have the kindness to step in here."

He led the way into his bedroom, which was large and comfortably


"You see that," said he, pointing to a big black box at the end of his

bed. "I have never been a very rich man, Mr. Holmes--never made but

one investment in my life, as Dr. Trevelyan would tell you. But I don't

believe in bankers. I would never trust a banker, Mr. Holmes. Between

ourselves, what little I have is in that box, so you can understand what

it means to me when unknown people force themselves into my rooms."

Holmes looked at Blessington in his questioning way and shook his head.

"I cannot possibly advise you if you try to deceive me," said he.

"But I have told you everything."

Holmes turned on his heel with a gesture of disgust. "Good-night, Dr.

Trevelyan," said he.

"And no advice for me?" cried Blessington, in a breaking voice.

"My advice to you, sir, is to speak the truth."

A minute later we were in the street and walking for home. We had

crossed Oxford Street and were half way down Harley Street before I

could get a word from my companion.

"Sorry to bring you out on such a fool's errand, Watson," he said at

last. "It is an interesting case, too, at the bottom of it."

"I can make little of it," I confessed.

"Well, it is quite evident that there are two men--more, perhaps, but

at least two--who are determined for some reason to get at this fellow

Blessington. I have no doubt in my mind that both on the first and on

the second occasion that young man penetrated to Blessington's room,

while his confederate, by an ingenious device, kept the doctor from


"And the catalepsy?"

"A fraudulent imitation, Watson, though I should hardly dare to hint as

much to our specialist. It is a very easy complaint to imitate. I have

done it myself."

"And then?"

"By the purest chance Blessington was out on each occasion. Their reason

for choosing so unusual an hour for a consultation was obviously to

insure that there should be no other patient in the waiting-room. It

just happened, however, that this hour coincided with Blessington's

constitutional, which seems to show that they were not very well

acquainted with his daily routine. Of course, if they had been merely

after plunder they would at least have made some attempt to search for

it. Besides, I can read in a man's eye when it is his own skin that he

is frightened for. It is inconceivable that this fellow could have made

two such vindictive enemies as these appear to be without knowing of it.

I hold it, therefore, to be certain that he does know who these men are,

and that for reasons of his own he suppresses it. It is just possible

that to-morrow may find him in a more communicative mood."

"Is there not one alternative," I suggested, "grotesquely improbably,

no doubt, but still just conceivable? Might the whole story of the

cataleptic Russian and his son be a concoction of Dr. Trevelyan's, who

has, for his own purposes, been in Blessington's rooms?"

I saw in the gaslight that Holmes wore an amused smile at this brilliant

departure of mine.

"My dear fellow," said he, "it was one of the first solutions which

occurred to me, but I was soon able to corroborate the doctor's tale.

This young man has left prints upon the stair-carpet which made it quite

superfluous for me to ask to see those which he had made in the room.

When I tell you that his shoes were square-toed instead of being pointed

like Blessington's, and were quite an inch and a third longer than the

doctor's, you will acknowledge that there can be no doubt as to his

individuality. But we may sleep on it now, for I shall be surprised if

we do not hear something further from Brook Street in the morning."

Sherlock Holmes's prophecy was soon fulfilled, and in a dramatic

fashion. At half-past seven next morning, in the first glimmer of

daylight, I found him standing by my bedside in his dressing-gown.

"There's a brougham waiting for us, Watson," said he.

"What's the matter, then?"

"The Brook Street business."

"Any fresh news?"

"Tragic, but ambiguous," said he, pulling up the blind. "Look at this--a

sheet from a note-book, with 'For God's sake come at once--P. T.,'

scrawled upon it in pencil. Our friend, the doctor, was hard put to

it when he wrote this. Come along, my dear fellow, for it's an urgent


In a quarter of an hour or so we were back at the physician's house. He

came running out to meet us with a face of horror.

"Oh, such a business!" he cried, with his hands to his temples.

"What then?"

"Blessington has committed suicide!"

Holmes whistled.

"Yes, he hanged himself during the night."

We had entered, and the doctor had preceded us into what was evidently

his waiting-room.

"I really hardly know what I am doing," he cried. "The police are

already upstairs. It has shaken me most dreadfully."

"When did you find it out?"

"He has a cup of tea taken in to him early every morning. When the maid

entered, about seven, there the unfortunate fellow was hanging in the

middle of the room. He had tied his cord to the hook on which the heavy

lamp used to hang, and he had jumped off from the top of the very box

that he showed us yesterday."

Holmes stood for a moment in deep thought.

"With your permission," said he at last, "I should like to go upstairs

and look into the matter."

We both ascended, followed by the doctor.

It was a dreadful sight which met us as we entered the bedroom door. I

have spoken of the impression of flabbiness which this man Blessington

conveyed. As he dangled from the hook it was exaggerated and intensified

until he was scarce human in his appearance. The neck was drawn out

like a plucked chicken's, making the rest of him seem the more obese and

unnatural by the contrast. He was clad only in his long night-dress, and

his swollen ankles and ungainly feet protruded starkly from beneath it.

Beside him stood a smart-looking police-inspector, who was taking notes

in a pocket-book.

"Ah, Mr. Holmes," said he, heartily, as my friend entered, "I am

delighted to see you."

"Good-morning, Lanner," answered Holmes; "you won't think me an

intruder, I am sure. Have you heard of the events which led up to this


"Yes, I heard something of them."

"Have you formed any opinion?"

"As far as I can see, the man has been driven out of his senses by

fright. The bed has been well slept in, you see. There's his impression

deep enough. It's about five in the morning, you know, that suicides are

most common. That would be about his time for hanging himself. It seems

to have been a very deliberate affair."

"I should say that he has been dead about three hours, judging by the

rigidity of the muscles," said I.

"Noticed anything peculiar about the room?" asked Holmes.

"Found a screw-driver and some screws on the wash-hand stand. Seems to

have smoked heavily during the night, too. Here are four cigar-ends that

I picked out of the fireplace."

"Hum!" said Holmes, "have you got his cigar-holder?"

"No, I have seen none."

"His cigar-case, then?"

"Yes, it was in his coat-pocket."

Holmes opened it and smelled the single cigar which it contained.

"Oh, this is an Havana, and these others are cigars of the peculiar sort

which are imported by the Dutch from their East Indian colonies. They

are usually wrapped in straw, you know, and are thinner for their length

than any other brand." He picked up the four ends and examined them with

his pocket-lens.

"Two of these have been smoked from a holder and two without," said he.

"Two have been cut by a not very sharp knife, and two have had the ends

bitten off by a set of excellent teeth. This is no suicide, Mr. Lanner.

It is a very deeply planned and cold-blooded murder."

"Impossible!" cried the inspector.

"And why?"

"Why should any one murder a man in so clumsy a fashion as by hanging


"That is what we have to find out."

"How could they get in?"

"Through the front door."

"It was barred in the morning."

"Then it was barred after them."

"How do you know?"

"I saw their traces. Excuse me a moment, and I may be able to give you

some further information about it."

He went over to the door, and turning the lock he examined it in his

methodical way. Then he took out the key, which was on the inside, and

inspected that also. The bed, the carpet, the chairs the mantelpiece,

the dead body, and the rope were each in turn examined, until at last he

professed himself satisfied, and with my aid and that of the inspector

cut down the wretched object and laid it reverently under a sheet.

"How about this rope?" he asked.

"It is cut off this," said Dr. Trevelyan, drawing a large coil from

under the bed. "He was morbidly nervous of fire, and always kept this

beside him, so that he might escape by the window in case the stairs

were burning."

"That must have saved them trouble," said Holmes, thoughtfully. "Yes,

the actual facts are very plain, and I shall be surprised if by the

afternoon I cannot give you the reasons for them as well. I will take

this photograph of Blessington, which I see upon the mantelpiece, as it

may help me in my inquiries."

"But you have told us nothing!" cried the doctor.

"Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of events," said Holmes.

"There were three of them in it: the young man, the old man, and a

third, to whose identity I have no clue. The first two, I need hardly

remark, are the same who masqueraded as the Russian count and his son,

so we can give a very full description of them. They were admitted by

a confederate inside the house. If I might offer you a word of advice,

Inspector, it would be to arrest the page, who, as I understand, has

only recently come into your service, Doctor."

"The young imp cannot be found," said Dr. Trevelyan; "the maid and the

cook have just been searching for him."

Holmes shrugged his shoulders.

"He has played a not unimportant part in this drama," said he. "The

three men having ascended the stairs, which they did on tiptoe, the

elder man first, the younger man second, and the unknown man in the


"My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.

"Oh, there could be no question as to the superimposing of the

footmarks. I had the advantage of learning which was which last night.

They ascended, then, to Mr. Blessington's room, the door of which they

found to be locked. With the help of a wire, however, they forced round

the key. Even without the lens you will perceive, by the scratches on

this ward, where the pressure was applied.

"On entering the room their first proceeding must have been to gag Mr.

Blessington. He may have been asleep, or he may have been so paralyzed

with terror as to have been unable to cry out. These walls are thick,

and it is conceivable that his shriek, if he had time to utter one, was


"Having secured him, it is evident to me that a consultation of some

sort was held. Probably it was something in the nature of a judicial

proceeding. It must have lasted for some time, for it was then that

these cigars were smoked. The older man sat in that wicker chair; it

was he who used the cigar-holder. The younger man sat over yonder; he

knocked his ash off against the chest of drawers. The third fellow paced

up and down. Blessington, I think, sat upright in the bed, but of that I

cannot be absolutely certain.

"Well, it ended by their taking Blessington and hanging him. The matter

was so prearranged that it is my belief that they brought with them

some sort of block or pulley which might serve as a gallows. That

screw-driver and those screws were, as I conceive, for fixing it up.

Seeing the hook, however they naturally saved themselves the trouble.

Having finished their work they made off, and the door was barred behind

them by their confederate."

We had all listened with the deepest interest to this sketch of the

night's doings, which Holmes had deduced from signs so subtle and minute

that, even when he had pointed them out to us, we could scarcely follow

him in his reasoning. The inspector hurried away on the instant to make

inquiries about the page, while Holmes and I returned to Baker Street

for breakfast.

"I'll be back by three," said he, when we had finished our meal. "Both

the inspector and the doctor will meet me here at that hour, and I hope

by that time to have cleared up any little obscurity which the case may

still present."

Our visitors arrived at the appointed time, but it was a quarter to

four before my friend put in an appearance. From his expression as he

entered, however, I could see that all had gone well with him.

"Any news, Inspector?"

"We have got the boy, sir."

"Excellent, and I have got the men."

"You have got them!" we cried, all three.

"Well, at least I have got their identity. This so-called Blessington

is, as I expected, well known at headquarters, and so are his

assailants. Their names are Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat."

"The Worthingdon bank gang," cried the inspector.

"Precisely," said Holmes.

"Then Blessington must have been Sutton."

"Exactly," said Holmes.

"Why, that makes it as clear as crystal," said the inspector.

But Trevelyan and I looked at each other in bewilderment.

"You must surely remember the great Worthingdon bank business," said

Holmes. "Five men were in it--these four and a fifth called Cartwright.

Tobin, the care-taker, was murdered, and the thieves got away with seven

thousand pounds. This was in 1875. They were all five arrested, but the

evidence against them was by no means conclusive. This Blessington or

Sutton, who was the worst of the gang, turned informer. On his evidence

Cartwright was hanged and the other three got fifteen years apiece. When

they got out the other day, which was some years before their full term,

they set themselves, as you perceive, to hunt down the traitor and to

avenge the death of their comrade upon him. Twice they tried to get at

him and failed; a third time, you see, it came off. Is there anything

further which I can explain, Dr. Trevelyan?"

"I think you have made it all remarkable clear," said the doctor. "No

doubt the day on which he was perturbed was the day when he had seen of

their release in the newspapers."

"Quite so. His talk about a burglary was the merest blind."

"But why could he not tell you this?"

"Well, my dear sir, knowing the vindictive character of his old

associates, he was trying to hide his own identity from everybody as

long as he could. His secret was a shameful one, and he could not bring

himself to divulge it. However, wretch as he was, he was still living

under the shield of British law, and I have no doubt, Inspector, that

you will see that, though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of

justice is still there to avenge."

Such were the singular circumstances in connection with the Resident

Patient and the Brook Street Doctor. From that night nothing has

been seen of the three murderers by the police, and it is surmised

at Scotland Yard that they were among the passengers of the ill-fated

steamer Norah Creina, which was lost some years ago with all hands

upon the Portuguese coast, some leagues to the north of Oporto. The

proceedings against the page broke down for want of evidence, and the

Brook Street Mystery, as it was called, has never until now been fully

dealt with in any public print.