gardinen wohnzimmerfenster

gardinen wohnzimmerfenster

his last bow by sir arthur conan doylethe disappearance of lady frances carfax par 1"but why turkish?" asked mr. sherlock holmes, gazing fixedly at my boots. i was reclining in a cane-backed chair atthe moment, and my protruded feet had attracted his ever-active attention. "english," i answered in some surprise. "i got them at latimer's, in oxford street." holmes smiled with an expression of wearypatience. "the bath!" he said; "the bath!

why the relaxing and expensive turkish ratherthan the invigorating home-made article?" "because for the last few days i have beenfeeling rheumatic and old. a turkish bath is what we call an alterativein medicine--a fresh starting-point, a cleanser of the system. "by the way, holmes," i added, "i have nodoubt the connection between my boots and a turkish bath is a perfectly self-evidentone to a logical mind, and yet i should be obliged to you if you would indicate it." "the train of reasoning is not very obscure,watson," said holmes with a mischievous twinkle. "it belongs to the same elementary class ofdeduction which i should illustrate if i were

to ask you who shared your cab in your drivethis morning." "i don't admit that a fresh illustration isan explanation," said i with some asperity. "bravo, watson! a very dignified and logical remonstrance. let me see, what were the points? take the last one first--the cab. you observe that you have some splashes onthe left sleeve and shoulder of your coat. had you sat in the centre of a hansom youwould probably have had no splashes, and if you had they would certainly have been symmetrical.

therefore it is clear that you sat at theside. therefore it is equally clear that you hada companion." "that is very evident." "absurdly commonplace, is it not?" "but the boots and the bath?" "equally childish. you are in the habit of doing up your bootsin a certain way. i see them on this occasion fastened withan elaborate double bow, which is not your usual method of tying them.

you have, therefore, had them off. who has tied them? a bootmaker--or the boy at the bath. it is unlikely that it is the bootmaker, sinceyour boots are nearly new. well, what remains? the bath. absurd, is it not? but, for all that, the turkish bath has serveda purpose." "what is that?"

"you say that you have had it because youneed a change. let me suggest that you take one. how would lausanne do, my dear watson--first-classtickets and all expenses paid on a princely scale?" "splendid! but why?" holmes leaned back in his armchair and tookhis notebook from his pocket. "one of the most dangerous classes in theworld," said he, "is the drifting and friendless woman.

she is the most harmless and often the mostuseful of mortals, but she is the inevitable inciter of crime in others. she is helpless. she is migratory. she has sufficient means to take her fromcountry to country and from hotel to hotel. she is lost, as often as not, in a maze ofobscure pensions and boardinghouses. she is a stray chicken in a world of foxes. when she is gobbled up she is hardly missed. i much fear that some evil has come to thelady frances carfax."

i was relieved at this sudden descent fromthe general to the particular. holmes consulted his notes. "lady frances," he continued, "is the solesurvivor of the direct family of the late earl of rufton. the estates went, as you may remember, inthe male line. she was left with limited means, but withsome very remarkable old spanish jewellery of silver and curiously cut diamonds to whichshe was fondly attached--too attached, for she refused to leave them with her bankerand always carried them about with her. a rather pathetic figure, the lady frances,a beautiful woman, still in fresh middle age,

and yet, by a strange change, the last derelictof what only twenty years ago was a goodly fleet." "what has happened to her, then?" "ah, what has happened to the lady frances? is she alive or dead? there is our problem. she is a lady of precise habits, and for fouryears it has been her invariable custom to write every second week to miss dobney, herold governess, who has long retired and lives in camberwell.

it is this miss dobney who has consulted me. nearly five weeks have passed without a word. the last letter was from the hotel nationalat lausanne. lady frances seems to have left there andgiven no address. the family are anxious, and as they are exceedinglywealthy no sum will be spared if we can clear the matter up." "is miss dobney the only source of information? surely she had other correspondents?" "there is one correspondent who is a suredraw, watson.

that is the bank. single ladies must live, and their passbooksare compressed diaries. she banks at silvester's. i have glanced over her account. the last check but one paid her bill at lausanne,but it was a large one and probably left her with cash in hand. only one check has been drawn since." "to whom, and where?" "to miss marie devine.

there is nothing to show where the check wasdrawn. it was cashed at the credit lyonnais at montpellierless than three weeks ago. the sum was fifty pounds." "and who is miss marie devine?" "that also i have been able to discover. miss marie devine was the maid of lady francescarfax. why she should have paid her this check wehave not yet determined. i have no doubt, however, that your researcheswill soon clear the matter up." "my researches!"

"hence the health-giving expedition to lausanne. you know that i cannot possibly leave londonwhile old abrahams is in such mortal terror of his life. besides, on general principles it is bestthat i should not leave the country. scotland yard feels lonely without me, andit causes an unhealthy excitement among the criminal classes. go, then, my dear watson, and if my humblecounsel can ever be valued at so extravagant a rate as two pence a word, it waits yourdisposal night and day at the end of the continental wire."

two days later found me at the hotel nationalat lausanne, where i received every courtesy at the hands of m. moser, the well-known manager. lady frances, as he informed me, had stayedthere for several weeks. she had been much liked by all who met her. her age was not more than forty. she was still handsome and bore every signof having in her youth been a very lovely m. moser knew nothing of any valuable jewellery,but it had been remarked by the servants that the heavy trunk in the lady's bedroom wasalways scrupulously locked. marie devine, the maid, was as popular asher mistress.

she was actually engaged to one of the headwaiters in the hotel, and there was no difficulty in getting her address. it was 11 rue de trajan, montpellier. all this i jotted down and felt that holmeshimself could not have been more adroit in collecting his facts. only one corner still remained in the shadow. no light which i possessed could clear upthe cause for the lady's sudden departure. she was very happy at lausanne. there was every reason to believe that sheintended to remain for the season in her luxurious

rooms overlooking the lake. and yet she had left at a single day's notice,which involved her in the useless payment of a week's rent. only jules vibart, the lover of the maid,had any suggestion to offer. he connected the sudden departure with thevisit to the hotel a day or two before of a tall, dark, bearded man. "un sauvage--un veritable sauvage!" criedjules vibart. the man had rooms somewhere in the town. he had been seen talking earnestly to madameon the promenade by the lake.

then he had called. she had refused to see him. he was english, but of his name there wasno record. madame had left the place immediately afterwards. jules vibart, and, what was of more importance,jules vibart's sweetheart, thought that this call and the departure were cause and effect. only one thing jules would not discuss. that was the reason why marie had left hermistress. of that he could or would say nothing.

if i wished to know, i must go to montpellierand ask her. so ended the first chapter of my inquiry. the second was devoted to the place whichlady frances carfax had sought when she left lausanne. concerning this there had been some secrecy,which confirmed the idea that she had gone with the intention of throwing someone offher track. otherwise why should not her luggage havebeen openly labelled for baden? both she and it reached the rhenish spa bysome circuitous route. this much i gathered from the manager of cook'slocal office.

so to baden i went, after dispatching to holmesan account of all my proceedings and receiving in reply a telegram of half-humorous commendation. at baden the track was not difficult to follow. lady frances had stayed at the englischerhof for a fortnight. while there she had made the acquaintanceof a dr. shlessinger and his wife, a missionary from south america. like most lonely ladies, lady frances foundher comfort and occupation in religion. dr. shlessinger's remarkable personality,his whole hearted devotion, and the fact that he was recovering from a disease contractedin the exercise of his apostolic duties affected

her deeply. she had helped mrs. shlessinger in the nursingof the convalescent saint. he spent his day, as the manager describedit to me, upon a lounge-chair on the veranda, with an attendant lady upon either side ofhim. he was preparing a map of the holy land, withspecial reference to the kingdom of the midianites, upon which he was writing a monograph. finally, having improved much in health, heand his wife had returned to london, and lady frances had started thither in their company. this was just three weeks before, and themanager had heard nothing since.

as to the maid, marie, she had gone off somedays beforehand in floods of tears, after informing the other maids that she was leavingservice forever. dr. shlessinger had paid the bill of the wholeparty before his departure. "by the way," said the landlord in conclusion,"you are not the only friend of lady frances carfax who is inquiring after her just now. only a week or so ago we had a man here uponthe same errand." "did he give a name?" i asked. "none; but he was an englishman, though ofan unusual type."

"a savage?" said i, linking my facts afterthe fashion of my illustrious friend. "exactly. that describes him very well. he is a bulky, bearded, sunburned fellow,who looks as if he would be more at home in a farmers' inn than in a fashionable hotel. a hard, fierce man, i should think, and onewhom i should be sorry to offend." already the mystery began to define itself,as figures grow clearer with the lifting of a fog. here was this good and pious lady pursuedfrom place to place by a sinister and unrelenting

figure. she feared him, or she would not have fledfrom lausanne. he had still followed. sooner or later he would overtake her. had he already overtaken her? was that the secret of her continued silence? could the good people who were her companionsnot screen her from his violence or his blackmail? what horrible purpose, what deep design, laybehind this long pursuit? there was the problem which i had to solve.

to holmes i wrote showing how rapidly andsurely i had got down to the roots of the matter. in reply i had a telegram asking for a descriptionof dr. shlessinger's left ear. holmes's ideas of humour are strange and occasionallyoffensive, so i took no notice of his ill-timed jest--indeed, i had already reached montpellierin my pursuit of the maid, marie, before his message came. i had no difficulty in finding the ex-servantand in learning all that she could tell me. she was a devoted creature, who had only lefther mistress because she was sure that she was in good hands, and because her own approachingmarriage made a separation inevitable in any

case. her mistress had, as she confessed with distress,shown some irritability of temper towards her during their stay in baden, and had evenquestioned her once as if she had suspicions of her honesty, and this had made the partingeasier than it would otherwise have been. lady frances had given her fifty pounds asa wedding-present. like me, marie viewed with deep distrust thestranger who had driven her mistress from with her own eyes she had seen him seize thelady's wrist with great violence on the public promenade by the lake. he was a fierce and terrible man.

she believed that it was out of dread of himthat lady frances had accepted the escort of the shlessingers to london. she had never spoken to marie about it, butmany little signs had convinced the maid that her mistress lived in a state of continualnervous apprehension. so far she had got in her narrative, whensuddenly she sprang from her chair and her face was convulsed with surprise and fear. "see!" she cried. "the miscreant follows still! there is the very man of whom i speak."

through the open sitting-room window i sawa huge, swarthy man with a bristling black beard walking slowly down the centre of thestreet and staring eagerly at the numbers of the houses. it was clear that, like myself, he was onthe track of the maid. acting upon the impulse of the moment, i rushedout and accosted him. "you are an englishman," i said. "what if i am?" he asked with a most villainousscowl. "may i ask what your name is?" "no, you may not," said he with decision.

the situation was awkward, but the most directway is often the best. "where is the lady frances carfax?" he stared at me with amazement. "what have you done with her? why have you pursued her? i insist upon an answer!" said i. the fellow gave a below of anger and sprangupon me like a tiger. i have held my own in many a struggle, butthe man had a grip of iron and the fury of a fiend.

his hand was on my throat and my senses werenearly gone before an unshaven french ouvrier in a blue blouse darted out from a cabaretopposite, with a cudgel in his hand, and struck my assailant a sharp crack over the forearm,which made him leave go his hold. he stood for an instant fuming with rage anduncertain whether he should not renew his attack. then, with a snarl of anger, he left me andentered the cottage from which i had just come. i turned to thank my preserver, who stoodbeside me in the roadway. "well, watson," said he, "a very pretty hashyou have made of it!

i rather think you had better come back withme to london by the night express." an hour afterwards, sherlock holmes, in hisusual garb and style, was seated in my private room at the hotel. his explanation of his sudden and opportuneappearance was simplicity itself, for, finding that he could get away from london, he determinedto head me off at the next obvious point of my travels. in the disguise of a workingman he had satin the cabaret waiting for my appearance. "and a singularly consistent investigationyou have made, my dear watson," said he. "i cannot at the moment recall any possibleblunder which you have omitted.

the total effect of your proceeding has beento give the alarm everywhere and yet to discover nothing." "perhaps you would have done no better," ianswered bitterly. "there is no 'perhaps' about it. i have done better. here is the hon. philip green, who is a fellow-lodger withyou in this hotel, and we may find him the starting-point for a more successful investigation." a card had come up on a salver, and it wasfollowed by the same bearded ruffian who had

attacked me in the street. he started when he saw me. "what is this, mr. holmes?" he asked. "i had your note and i have come. but what has this man to do with the matter?" "this is my old friend and associate, dr.watson, who is helping us in this affair." the stranger held out a huge, sunburned hand,with a few words of apology. "i hope i didn't harm you. when you accused me of hurting her i lostmy grip of myself.

indeed, i'm not responsible in these days. my nerves are like live wires. but this situation is beyond me. what i want to know, in the first place, mr.holmes, is, how in the world you came to hear of my existence at all." "i am in touch with miss dobney, lady frances'sgoverness." "old susan dobney with the mob cap! i remember her well." "and she remembers you.

it was in the days before--before you foundit better to go to south africa." "ah, i see you know my whole story. i need hide nothing from you. i swear to you, mr. holmes, that there neverwas in this world a man who loved a woman with a more wholehearted love than i had forfrances. i was a wild youngster, i know--not worsethan others of my class. but her mind was pure as snow. she could not bear a shadow of coarseness. so, when she came to hear of things that ihad done, she would have no more to say to

me. and yet she loved me--that is the wonder ofit!--loved me well enough to remain single all her sainted days just for my sake alone. when the years had passed and i had made mymoney at barberton i thought perhaps i could seek her out and soften her. i had heard that she was still unmarried,i found her at lausanne and tried all i knew. she weakened, i think, but her will was strong,and when next i called she had left the town. i traced her to baden, and then after a timeheard that her maid was here. i'm a rough fellow, fresh from a rough life,and when dr. watson spoke to me as he did

i lost hold of myself for a moment. but for god's sake tell me what has becomeof the lady frances." "that is for us to find out," said sherlockholmes with peculiar gravity. "what is your london address, mr. green?" "the langham hotel will find me." "then may i recommend that you return thereand be on hand in case i should want you? i have no desire to encourage false hopes,but you may rest assured that all that can be done will be done for the safety of ladyfrances. i can say no more for the instant.

i will leave you this card so that you maybe able to keep in touch with us. now, watson, if you will pack your bag i willcable to mrs. hudson to make one of her best efforts for two hungry travellers at 7:30to-morrow." a telegram was awaiting us when we reachedour baker street rooms, which holmes read with an exclamation of interest and threwacross to me. "jagged or torn," was the message, and theplace of origin, baden. "what is this?" "it is everything," holmes answered. "you may remember my seemingly irrelevantquestion as to this clerical gentleman's left

ear. you did not answer it." "i had left baden and could not inquire." for this reason i sent a duplicate to themanager of the englischer hof, whose answer lies here." "what does it show?" "it shows, my dear watson, that we are dealingwith an exceptionally astute and dangerous man. the rev. dr. shlessinger, missionary fromsouth america, is none other than holy peters,

one of the most unscrupulous rascals thataustralia has ever evolved--and for a young country it has turned out some very finishedtypes. his particular specialty is the beguilingof lonely ladies by playing upon their religious feelings, and his so-called wife, an englishwomannamed fraser, is a worthy helpmate. the nature of his tactics suggested his identityto me, and this physical peculiarity--he was badly bitten in a saloon-fight at adelaidein '89--confirmed my suspicion. this poor lady is in the hands of a most infernalcouple, who will stick at nothing, watson. that she is already dead is a very likelysupposition. if not, she is undoubtedly in some sort ofconfinement and unable to write to miss dobney

or her other friends. it is always possible that she never reachedlondon, or that she has passed through it, but the former is improbable, as, with theirsystem of registration, it is not easy for foreigners to play tricks with the continentalpolice; and the latter is also unlikely, as these rouges could not hope to find any otherplace where it would be as easy to keep a person under restraint. all my instincts tell me that she is in london,but as we have at present no possible means of telling where, we can only take the obvioussteps, eat our dinner, and possess our souls in patience.

later in the evening i will stroll down andhave a word with friend lestrade at scotland yard." but neither the official police nor holmes'sown small but very efficient organization sufficed to clear away the mystery. amid the crowded millions of london the threepersons we sought were as completely obliterated as if they had never lived. advertisements were tried, and failed. clues were followed, and led to nothing. every criminal resort which shlessinger mightfrequent was drawn in vain.

his old associates were watched, but theykept clear of him. and then suddenly, after a week of helplesssuspense there came a flash of light. a silver-and-brilliant pendant of old spanishdesign had been pawned at bovington's, in westminster road. the pawner was a large, clean-shaven man ofclerical appearance. his name and address were demonstrably false. the ear had escaped notice, but the descriptionwas surely that of shlessinger. three times had our bearded friend from thelangham called for news--the third time within an hour of this fresh development.

his clothes were getting looser on his greatbody. he seemed to be wilting away in his anxiety. "if you will only give me something to do!"was his constant wail. at last holmes could oblige him. "he has begun to pawn the jewels. we should get him now." "but does this mean that any harm has befallenthe lady frances?" holmes shook his head very gravely. "supposing that they have held her prisonerup to now, it is clear that they cannot let

her loose without their own destruction. we must prepare for the worst." "what can i do?" "these people do not know you by sight?" "no." "it is possible that he will go to some otherpawnbroker in the future. in that case, we must begin again. on the other hand, he has had a fair priceand no questions asked, so if he is in need of ready-money he will probably come backto bovington's.

i will give you a note to them, and they willlet you wait in the shop. if the fellow comes you will follow him home. but no indiscretion, and, above all, no violence. i put you on your honour that you will takeno step without my knowledge and consent." for two days the hon. philip green (he was, i may mention, the sonof the famous admiral of that name who commanded the sea of azof fleet in the crimean war)brought us no news. on the evening of the third he rushed intoour sitting-room, pale, trembling, with every muscle of his powerful frame quivering withexcitement.

"we have him! we have him!" he cried. he was incoherent in his agitation. holmes soothed him with a few words and thrusthim into an armchair. "come, now, give us the order of events,"said he. "she came only an hour ago. it was the wife, this time, but the pendantshe brought was the fellow of the other. she is a tall, pale woman, with ferret eyes." "that is the lady," said holmes.

"she left the office and i followed her. she walked up the kennington road, and i keptbehind her. presently she went into a shop. mr. holmes, it was an undertaker's." my companion started. "well?" he asked in that vibrant voice whichtold of the fiery soul behind the cold gray face. "she was talking to the woman behind the counter. i entered as well.

'it is late,' i heard her say, or words tothat effect. the woman was excusing herself. 'it should be there before now,' she answered. 'it took longer, being out of the ordinary.' they both stopped and looked at me, so i askedsome questions and then left the shop." "you did excellently well. what happened next?" "the woman came out, but i had hid myselfin a doorway. her suspicions had been aroused, i think,for she looked round her.

then she called a cab and got in. i was lucky enough to get another and so tofollow her. she got down at last at no. 36, poultney square,brixton. i drove past, left my cab at the corner ofthe square, and watched the house." "did you see anyone?" "the windows were all in darkness save oneon the lower floor. the blind was down, and i could not see in. i was standing there, wondering what i shoulddo next, when a covered van drove up with two men in it.

they descended, took something out of thevan, and carried it up the steps to the hall door. mr. holmes, it was a coffin." "ah!" "for an instant i was on the point of rushingin. the door had been opened to admit the menand their burden. it was the woman who had opened it. but as i stood there she caught a glimpseof me, and i think that she recognized me. i saw her start, and she hastily closed thedoor.

i remembered my promise to you, and here iam." "you have done excellent work," said holmes,scribbling a few words upon a half-sheet of paper. "we can do nothing legal without a warrant,and you can serve the cause best by taking this note down to the authorities and gettingone. there may be some difficulty, but i shouldthink that the sale of the jewellery should be sufficient. lestrade will see to all details." "but they may murder her in the meanwhile.

what could the coffin mean, and for whom couldit be but for her?" "we will do all that can be done, mr. green. not a moment will be lost. leave it in our hands. now watson," he added as our client hurriedaway, "he will set the regular forces on the move. we are, as usual, the irregulars, and we musttake our own line of action. the situation strikes me as so desperate thatthe most extreme measures are justified. not a moment is to be lost in getting to poultneysquare.

"let us try to reconstruct the situation,"said he as we drove swiftly past the houses of parliament and over westminster bridge. "these villains have coaxed this unhappy ladyto london, after first alienating her from her faithful maid. if she has written any letters they have beenintercepted. through some confederate they have engageda furnished house. once inside it, they have made her a prisoner,and they have become possessed of the valuable jewellery which has been their object fromthe first. already they have begun to sell part of it,which seems safe enough to them, since they

have no reason to think that anyone is interestedin the lady's fate. when she is released she will, of course,denounce them. therefore, she must not be released. but they cannot keep her under lock and keyforever. so murder is their only solution." "that seems very clear." "now we will take another line of reasoning. when you follow two separate chains of thought,watson, you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth.

we will start now, not from the lady but fromthe coffin and argue backward. that incident proves, i fear, beyond all doubtthat the lady is dead. it points also to an orthodox burial withproper accompaniment of medical certificate and official sanction. had the lady been obviously murdered, theywould have buried her in a hole in the back garden. but here all is open and regular. what does this mean? surely that they have done her to death insome way which has deceived the doctor and

simulated a natural end--poisoning, perhaps. and yet how strange that they should everlet a doctor approach her unless he were a confederate, which is hardly a credible proposition." "could they have forged a medical certificate?" "dangerous, watson, very dangerous. no, i hardly see them doing that. pull up, cabby! this is evidently the undertaker's, for wehave just passed the pawnbroker's. would you go in, watson?

your appearance inspires confidence. ask what hour the poultney square funeraltakes place to-morrow." the woman in the shop answered me withouthesitation that it was to be at eight o'clock in the morning. "you see, watson, no mystery; everything above-board! in some way the legal forms have undoubtedlybeen complied with, and they think that they have little to fear. well, there's nothing for it now but a directfrontal attack. are you armed?"

"my stick!" "well, well, we shall be strong enough. 'thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just.' we simply can't afford to wait for the policeor to keep within the four corners of the law. you can drive off, cabby. now, watson, we'll just take our luck together,as we have occasionally in the past." he had rung loudly at the door of a greatdark house in the centre of poultney square. it was opened immediately, and the figureof a tall woman was outlined against the dim-lit

hall. "well, what do you want?" she asked sharply,peering at us through the darkness. "i want to speak to dr. shlessinger," saidholmes. "there is no such person here," she answered,and tried to close the door, but holmes had jammed it with his foot. "well, i want to see the man who lives here,whatever he may call himself," said holmes firmly. she hesitated. then she threw open the door.

"well, come in!" said she. "my husband is not afraid to face any manin the world." she closed the door behind us and showed usinto a sitting-room on the right side of the hall, turning up the gas as she left us. "mr. peters will be with you in an instant,"she said. her words were literally true, for we hadhardly time to look around the dusty and moth-eaten apartment in which we found ourselves beforethe door opened and a big, clean-shaven bald-headed man stepped lightly into the room. he had a large red face, with pendulous cheeks,and a general air of superficial benevolence

which was marred by a cruel, vicious mouth. "there is surely some mistake here, gentlemen,"he said in an unctuous, make-everything-easy voice. "i fancy that you have been misdirected. possibly if you tried farther down the street--""that will do; we have no time to waste," said my companion firmly. "you are henry peters, of adelaide, late therev. dr. shlessinger, of baden and south america. i am as sure of that as that my own name issherlock holmes." peters, as i will now call him, started andstared hard at his formidable pursuer.

"i guess your name does not frighten me, mr.holmes," said he coolly. "when a man's conscience is easy you can'trattle him. what is your business in my house?" "i want to know what you have done with thelady frances carfax, whom you brought away with you from baden." "i'd be very glad if you could tell me wherethat lady may be," peters answered coolly. "i've a bill against her for nearly a hundredpounds, and nothing to show for it but a couple of trumpery pendants that the dealer wouldhardly look at. she attached herself to mrs. peters and meat baden--it is a fact that i was using another

name at the time--and she stuck on to us untilwe came to london. i paid her bill and her ticket. once in london, she gave us the slip, and,as i say, left these out-of-date jewels to pay her bills. you find her, mr. holmes, and i'm your debtor." "i mean to find her," said sherlock holmes. "i'm going through this house till i do findher." "where is your warrant?" holmes half drew a revolver from his pocket.

"this will have to serve till a better onecomes." "why, you're a common burglar." "so you might describe me," said holmes cheerfully. "my companion is also a dangerous ruffian. and together we are going through your house." our opponent opened the door. "fetch a policeman, annie!" said he. there was a whisk of feminine skirts downthe passage, and the hall door was opened and shut.

"our time is limited, watson," said holmes. "if you try to stop us, peters, you will mostcertainly get hurt. where is that coffin which was brought intoyour house?" "what do you want with the coffin? it is in use. there is a body in it." "i must see the body." "never with my consent." "then without it."

with a quick movement holmes pushed the fellowto one side and passed into the hall. a door half opened stood immediately beforeus. we entered. it was the dining-room. on the table, under a half-lit chandelier,the coffin was lying. holmes turned up the gas and raised the lid. deep down in the recesses of the coffin layan emaciated figure. the glare from the lights above beat downupon an aged and withered face. by no possible process of cruelty, starvation,or disease could this worn-out wreck be the

still beautiful lady frances. holmes's face showed his amazement, and alsohis relief. "thank god!" he muttered. "it's someone else." "ah, you've blundered badly for once, mr.sherlock holmes," said peters, who had followed us into the room. "who is the dead woman?" "well, if you really must know, she is anold nurse of my wife's, rose spender by name, whom we found in the brixton workhouse infirmary.

we brought her round here, called in dr. horsom,of 13 firbank villas--mind you take the address, mr. holmes--and had her carefully tended,as christian folk should. on the third day she died--certificate sayssenile decay--but that's only the doctor's opinion, and of course you know better. we ordered her funeral to be carried out bystimson and co., of the kennington road, who will bury her at eight o'clock to-morrow morning. can you pick any hole in that, mr. holmes? you've made a silly blunder, and you may aswell own up to it. i'd give something for a photograph of yourgaping, staring face when you pulled aside

that lid expecting to see the lady francescarfax and only found a poor old woman of ninety." holmes's expression was as impassive as everunder the jeers of his antagonist, but his clenched hands betrayed his acute annoyance. "i am going through your house," said he. "are you, though!" cried peters as a woman'svoice and heavy steps sounded in the passage. "we'll soon see about that. this way, officers, if you please. these men have forced their way into my house,and i cannot get rid of them.

help me to put them out." a sergeant and a constable stood in the doorway. holmes drew his card from his case. "this is my name and address. this is my friend, dr. watson." "bless you, sir, we know you very well," saidthe sergeant, "but you can't stay here without a warrant." "of course not. i quite understand that."

"arrest him!" cried peters. "we know where to lay our hands on this gentlemanif he is wanted," said the sergeant majestically, "but you'll have to go, mr. holmes." "yes, watson, we shall have to go." a minute later we were in the street oncemore. holmes was as cool as ever, but i was hotwith anger and humiliation. the sergeant had followed us. "sorry, mr. holmes, but that's the law."

"exactly, sergeant, you could not do otherwise." "i expect there was good reason for your presencethere. if there is anything i can do--""it's a missing lady, sergeant, and we think she is in that house. i expect a warrant presently." "then i'll keep my eye on the parties, mr.holmes. if anything comes along, i will surely letyou know." it was only nine o'clock, and we were offfull cry upon the trail at once. first we drove to brixton workhouse infirmary,where we found that it was indeed the truth

that a charitable couple had called some daysbefore, that they had claimed an imbecile old woman as a former servant, and that theyhad obtained permission to take her away with them. no surprise was expressed at the news thatshe had since died. the doctor was our next goal. he had been called in, had found the womandying of pure senility, had actually seen her pass away, and had signed the certificatein due form. "i assure you that everything was perfectlynormal and there was no room for foul play in the matter," said he.

nothing in the house had struck him as suspicioussave that for people of their class it was remarkable that they should have no servant. so far and no further went the doctor. finally we found our way to scotland yard. there had been difficulties of procedure inregard to the warrant. some delay was inevitable. the magistrate's signature might not be obtaineduntil next morning. if holmes would call about nine he could godown with lestrade and see it acted upon. so ended the day, save that near midnightour friend, the sergeant, called to say that

he had seen flickering lights here and therein the windows of the great dark house, but that no one had left it and none had entered. we could but pray for patience and wait forthe morrow. sherlock holmes was too irritable for conversationand too restless for sleep. i left him smoking hard, with his heavy, darkbrows knotted together, and his long, nervous fingers tapping upon the arms of his chair,as he turned over in his mind every possible solution of the mystery. several times in the course of the night iheard him prowling about the house. finally, just after i had been called in themorning, he rushed into my room.

he was in his dressing-gown, but his pale,hollow-eyed face told me that his night had been a sleepless one. "what time was the funeral? eight, was it not?" he asked eagerly. "well, it is 7:20 now. good heavens, watson, what has become of anybrains that god has given me? quick, man, quick! it's life or death--a hundred chances on deathto one on life. i'll never forgive myself, never, if we aretoo late!"

five minutes had not passed before we wereflying in a hansom down baker street. but even so it was twenty-five to eight aswe passed big ben, and eight struck as we tore down the brixton road. but others were late as well as we. ten minutes after the hour the hearse wasstill standing at the door of the house, and even as our foaming horse came to a halt thecoffin, supported by three men, appeared on the threshold. holmes darted forward and barred their way. "take it back!" he cried, laying his handon the breast of the foremost.

"take it back this instant!" "what the devil do you mean? once again i ask you, where is your warrant?" shouted the furious peters, his big red faceglaring over the farther end of the coffin. "the warrant is on its way. the coffin shall remain in the house untilit comes." the authority in holmes's voice had its effectupon the bearers. peters had suddenly vanished into the house,and they obeyed these new orders. "quick, watson, quick!

here is a screw-driver!" he shouted as thecoffin was replaced upon the table. "here's one for you, my man! a sovereign if the lid comes off in a minute! ask no questions--work away! that's good! another! and another! now pull all together! it's giving!

ah, that does it at last." with a united effort we tore off the coffin-lid. as we did so there came from the inside astupefying and overpowering smell of chloroform. a body lay within, its head all wreathed incotton-wool, which had been soaked in the narcotic. holmes plucked it off and disclosed the statuesqueface of a handsome and spiritual woman of middle age. in an instant he had passed his arm roundthe figure and raised her to a sitting position. "is she gone, watson?

is there a spark left? surely we are not too late!" for half an hour it seemed that we were. what with actual suffocation, and what withthe poisonous fumes of the chloroform, the lady frances seemed to have passed the lastpoint of recall. and then, at last, with artificial respiration,with injected ether, and with every device that science could suggest, some flutter oflife, some quiver of the eyelids, some dimming of a mirror, spoke of the slowly returninglife. a cab had driven up, and holmes, parting theblind, looked out at it.

"here is lestrade with his warrant," saidhe. "he will find that his birds have flown. and here," he added as a heavy step hurriedalong the passage, "is someone who has a better right to nurse this lady than we have. good morning, mr. green; i think that thesooner we can move the lady frances the better. meanwhile, the funeral may proceed, and thepoor old woman who still lies in that coffin may go to her last resting-place alone." "should you care to add the case to your annals,my dear watson," said holmes that evening, "it can only be as an example of that temporaryeclipse to which even the best-balanced mind

may be exposed. such slips are common to all mortals, andthe greatest is he who can recognize and repair to this modified credit i may, perhaps, makesome claim. my night was haunted by the thought that somewherea clue, a strange sentence, a curious observation, had come under my notice and had been tooeasily dismissed. then, suddenly, in the gray of the morning,the words came back to me. it was the remark of the undertaker's wife,as reported by philip green. she had said, 'it should be there before now. it took longer, being out of the ordinary.'

it was the coffin of which she spoke. it had been out of the ordinary. that could only mean that it had been madeto some special measurement. but why? why? then in an instant i remembered the deep sides,and the little wasted figure at the bottom. why so large a coffin for so small a body? to leave room for another body. both would be buried under the one certificate.

it had all been so clear, if only my own sighthad not been dimmed. at eight the lady frances would be buried. our one chance was to stop the coffin beforeit left the house. "it was a desperate chance that we might findher alive, but it was a chance, as the result showed. these people had never, to my knowledge, donea murder. they might shrink from actual violence atthe last. the could bury her with no sign of how shemet her end, and even if she were exhumed there was a chance for them.

i hoped that such considerations might prevailwith them. you can reconstruct the scene well enough. you saw the horrible den upstairs, where thepoor lady had been kept so long. they rushed in and overpowered her with theirchloroform, carried her down, poured more into the coffin to insure against her waking,and then screwed down the lid. a clever device, watson. it is new to me in the annals of crime. if our ex-missionary friends escape the clutchesof lestrade, i shall expect to hear of some brilliant incidents in their future career."

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