Showing 1–20 of 24 results

  • His Last Bow

    I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy day towards the end of March in the year 1892. Holmes had received a telegram while we sat at our lunch, and he had scribbled a reply. He made no remark, but the matter remained in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire afterwards with a thoughtful face, smoking his pipe, and casting an occasional glance at the message. Suddenly he turned upon me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

    “I suppose, Watson, we must look upon you as a man of letters,” said he. “How do you define the word ‘grotesque’?”

    “Strange—remarkable,” I suggested.

    He shook his head at my definition.

    “There is surely something more than that,” said he; “some underlying suggestion of the tragic and the terrible. If you cast your mind back to some of those narratives with which you have afflicted a long-suffering public, you will recognise how often the grotesque has deepened into the criminal. Think of that little affair of the red-headed men. That was grotesque enough in the outset, and yet it ended in a desperate attempt at robbery. Or, again, there was that most grotesque affair of the five orange pips, which led straight to a murderous conspiracy. The word puts me on the alert.”

    “Have you it there?” I asked.

    He read the telegram aloud.

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  • POIROT INVESTIGATES

    I was standing at the window of Poirot’s rooms looking out idly on the street below.

    “That’s queer,” I ejaculated suddenly beneath my breath.

    “What is, mon ami?” asked Poirot placidly, from the depths of his comfortable chair.

    “Deduce, Poirot, from the following facts! Here is a young lady, richly dressed—fashionable hat, magnificent furs. She is coming along slowly, looking up at the houses as she goes. Unknown to her, she is being shadowed by three men and a middle-aged woman. They have just been joined by an errand boy who points after the girl, gesticulating as he does so. What drama is this being played? Is the girl a crook, and are the shadowers detectives preparing to arrest her? Or are they the scoundrels, and are they plotting to attack an innocent victim? What does the great detective say?”

    “The great detective, mon ami, chooses, as ever, the simplest course. He rises to see for himself.” And my friend joined me at the window.

    In a minute he gave vent to an amused chuckle.

    “As usual, your facts are tinged with your incurable romanticism. That is Miss Mary Marvell, the film star. She is being followed by a bevy of admirers who have recognized her. And, en passant, my dear Hastings, she is quite aware of the fact!”

    I laughed.

    “So all is explained! But you get no marks for that, Poirot. It was a mere matter of recognition.”

    En vérité! And how many times have you seen Mary Marvell on the screen, mon cher?”

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  • THAT AFFAIR AT ELIZABETH

    “That seems to be all right, Lester,” said Mr. Royce, and handed the papers back to me. “I’ll be mighty glad when we get that off our hands.”

    So, I knew, would the whole force of the office, for the case had been an unusually irritating one, tangling itself up in the most unexpected ways, until, with petitions and counter-petitions and answers and demurrers and what not, we were all heartily tired of it. I slipped the papers into an envelope and shot them into a pigeon-hole with a sigh of relief.

    “I think that’ll end it,” I said. “I don’t see how there can be any further delay.”

    “No,” agreed our junior, “neither do I. Are the papers in the Griffin case ready?”

    “Not yet; I doubt if they will be ready before this afternoon.”

    “Well, they can wait,” he said, and glanced at his watch. “I want to catch the ten-ten for Elizabeth.”

    “For Elizabeth?”

    “Yes. I know it’s a mighty awkward time for me to leave, but it’s an engagement I’ve got to keep. You’ve heard me speak of Burr Curtiss?”

    “Yes,” I said; “I seem to remember the name.”

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  • The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans

    In the third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thursday I doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. The first day Holmes had spent in cross-indexing his huge book of references. The second and third had been patiently occupied upon a subject which he had recently made his hobby–the music of the Middle Ages. But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the window-panes, my comrade’s impatient and active nature could endure this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting-room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.

    “Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?” he said.

    I was aware that by anything of interest, Holmes meant anything of criminal interest. There was the news of a revolution, of a possible war, and of an impending change of government; but these did not come within the horizon of my companion. I could see nothing recorded in the shape of crime which was not commonplace and futile. Holmes groaned and resumed his restless meanderings.

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  • The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

    In choosing a few typical cases which illustrate the remarkable mental qualities of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to select those which presented the minimum of sensationalism, while offering a fair field for his talents. It is, however, unfortunately impossible entirely to separate the sensational from the criminal, and a chronicler is left in the dilemma that he must either sacrifice details which are essential to his statement and so give a false impression of the problem, or he must use matter which chance, and not choice, has provided him with. With this short preface I shall turn to my notes of what proved to be a strange, though a peculiarly terrible, chain of events.

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  • The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

    In recording from time to time some of the curious experiences and interesting recollections which I associate with my long and intimate friendship with Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I have continually been faced by difficulties caused by his own aversion to publicity. To his sombre and cynical spirit all popular applause was always abhorrent, and nothing amused him more at the end of a successful case than to hand over the actual exposure to some orthodox official, and to listen with a mocking smile to the general chorus of misplaced congratulation. It was indeed this attitude upon the part of my friend and certainly not any lack of interesting material which has caused me of late years to lay very few of my records before the public. My participation in some of his adventures was always a privilege which entailed discretion and reticence upon me.

    It was, then, with considerable surprise that I received a telegram from Holmes last Tuesday–he has never been known to write where a telegram would serve–in the following terms:

    Why not tell them of the Cornish horror–strangest case I have handled.

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  • The Adventure of the Red Circle

    “Well, Mrs. Warren, I cannot see that you have any particular cause for uneasiness, nor do I understand why I, whose time is of some value, should interfere in the matter. I really have other things to engage me.” So spoke Sherlock Holmes and turned back to the great scrapbook in which he was arranging and indexing some of his recent material.

    But the landlady had the pertinacity and also the cunning of her sex. She held her ground firmly.

    “You arranged an affair for a lodger of mine last year,” she said–“Mr. Fairdale Hobbs.”

    “Ah, yes–a simple matter.”

    “But he would never cease talking of it–your kindness, sir, and the way in which you brought light into the darkness. I remembered his words when I was in doubt and darkness myself. I know you could if you only would.”

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  • The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge

    I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy day towards the end of March in the year 1892. Holmes had received a telegram while we sat at our lunch, and he had scribbled a reply. He made no remark, but the matter remained in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire afterwards with a thoughtful face, smoking his pipe, and casting an occasional glance at the message. Suddenly he turned upon me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

    “I suppose, Watson, we must look upon you as a man of letters,” said he. “How do you define the word ‘grotesque’?”

    “Strange–remarkable,” I suggested.

    He shook his head at my definition.

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  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

    To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.

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  • The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

    But why Turkish?” asked Mr. Sherlock Holmes, gazing fixedly at my boots. I was reclining in a cane-backed chair at the 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 weary patience.

    “The bath!” he said; “the bath! Why the relaxing and expensive Turkish rather than the invigorating home-made article?”

    “Because for the last few days I have been feeling rheumatic and old. A Turkish bath is what we call an alterative in medicine–a fresh starting-point, a cleanser of the system.

    “By the way, Holmes,” I added, “I have no doubt the connection between my boots and a Turkish bath is a perfectly self-evident one 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 of deduction which I should illustrate if I were to ask you who shared your cab in your drive this morning.”

    “I don’t admit that a fresh illustration is an explanation,” said I with some asperity.

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  • THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT

    Nadina, the Russian dancer who had taken Paris by storm, swayed to the sound of the applause, bowed and bowed again. Her narrow black eyes narrowed themselves still more, the long line of her scarlet mouth curved faintly upwards. Enthusiastic Frenchmen continued to beat the ground appreciatively as the curtain fell with a swish, hiding the reds and blues and magentas of the bizarre décors. In a swirl of blue and orange draperies the dancer left the stage. A bearded gentleman received her enthusiastically in his arms. It was the Manager.

    “Magnificent, petite, magnificent,” he cried. “To-night you have surpassed yourself.” He kissed her gallantly on both cheeks in a somewhat matter-of-fact manner.

    Madame Nadina accepted the tribute with the ease of long habit and passed on to her dressing-room, where bouquets were heaped carelessly everywhere, marvellous garments of futuristic design hung on pegs, and the air was hot and sweet with the scent of the massed blossoms and with more sophisticated perfumes and essences. Jeanne, the dresser, ministered to her mistress, talking incessantly and pouring out a stream of fulsome compliment.

    A knock at the door interrupted the flow. Jeanne went to answer it, and returned with a card in her hand.

    “Madame will receive?”

    “Let me see.”

    The dancer stretched out a languid hand, but at the sight of the name on the card, “Count Sergius Paulovitch,” a sudden flicker of interest came into her eyes.

    “I will see him. The maize peignoir, Jeanne, and quickly. And when the Count comes you may go.”

    “Bien, Madame.”

    Jeanne brought the peignoir, an exquisite wisp of corn-coloured chiffon and ermine. Nadina slipped into it, and sat smiling to herself, whilst one long white hand beat a slow tattoo on the glass of the dressing-table.

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  • The Millbank Case, by George Dyre Eldridge

    THEODORE WING had no known enemy in the world. He was a man of forty; “well-to-do,” as they say in New England; a lawyer by profession, and already “mentioned” for a county judgeship. He was unmarried, but there were those who had hopes, and there was scarce a spinster in Millbank who hadn’t a kindly word and smile for him—at times. He was not a church member, but it was whispered that his clergyman was disposed to look leniently on this shortcoming, for Wing was a regular attendant at service and liberal with money for church purposes, which, shrewd guessers said, some of the church members were not.

    Wing lived in the River Road, just at the top of Parlin’s Hill. He was from “over East, somewheres,”2 and had come to Millbank as a law student, when old Judge Parlin was at the head of the Maine bar. He became in turn chief clerk, junior partner, and finally full partner to the judge, and when the latter died—of disappointment, it was said, due to failure to secure the chief justiceship—Wing became the head of the firm, and finally the firm itself; for he had a dislike for partnerships, and at forty his office associates were employés associated in particular cases, not partners in the general business.

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  • The Murder on the Links

    I believe that a well-known anecdote exists to the effect that a young writer, determined to make the commencement of his story forcible and original enough to catch and rivet the attention of the most blasé of editors, penned the following sentence:

    “ ‘Hell!’ said the Duchess.”

    Strangely enough, this tale of mine opens in much the same fashion. Only the lady who gave utterance to the exclamation was not a Duchess!

    It was a day in early June. I had been transacting some business in Paris and was returning by the morning service to London where I was still sharing rooms with my old friend, the Belgian ex-detective, Hercule Poirot.

    The Calais express was singularly empty—in fact, my own compartment held only one other traveller. I had made a somewhat hurried departure from the hotel and was busy assuring myself that I had duly collected all my traps when the train started. Up till then I had hardly noticed my companion, but I was now violently recalled to the fact of her existence. Jumping up from her seat, she let down the window and stuck her head out, withdrawing it a moment later with the brief and forcible ejaculation “Hell!”

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  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens

    An ancient English Cathedral Tower? How can the ancient English Cathedral tower be here! The well-known massive gray square tower of its old Cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenes, and who has set it up? Maybe it is set up by the Sultan’s orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and infinite in number and attendants. Still the Cathedral Tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing figure is on the grim spike. Stay! Is the spike so low a thing as the rusty spike on the top of a post of an old bedstead that has tumbled all awry? Some vague period of drowsy laughter must be devoted to the consideration of this possibility.

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  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes

    It was in the spring of the year 1894 that all London was interested, and the fashionable world dismayed, by the murder of the Honourable Ronald Adair under most unusual and inexplicable circumstances. The public has already learned those particulars of the crime which came out in the police investigation, but a good deal was suppressed upon that occasion, since the case for the prosecution was so overwhelmingly strong that it was not necessary to bring forward all the facts. Only now, at the end of nearly ten years, am I allowed to supply those missing links which make up the whole of that remarkable chain. The crime was of interest in itself, but that interest was as nothing to me compared to the inconceivable sequel, which afforded me the greatest shock and surprise of any event in my adventurous life. Even now, after this long interval, I find myself thrilling as I think of it, and feeling once more that sudden flood of joy, amazement, and incredulity which utterly submerged my mind. Let me say to that public, which has shown some interest in those glimpses which I have occasionally given them of the thoughts and actions of a very remarkable man, that they are not to blame me if I have not shared my knowledge with them, for I should have considered it my first duty to do so, had I not been barred by a positive prohibition from his own lips, which was only withdrawn upon the third of last month.

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  • The Secret Adversary

    It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

    “I beg your pardon.”

    A man’s voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once amongst the first-class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift, suspicious glance.

    She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!

    “Yes?” Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

    He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution

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  • The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad

    Mr Verloc, going out in the morning, left his shop nominally in charge of his brother-in-law. It could be done, because there was very little business at any time, and practically none at all before the evening. Mr Verloc cared but little about his ostensible business. And, moreover, his wife was in charge of his brother-in-law.

    The shop was small, and so was the house. It was one of those grimy brick houses which existed in large quantities before the era of reconstruction dawned upon London. The shop was a square box of a place, with the front glazed in small panes. In the daytime the door remained closed; in the evening it stood discreetly but suspiciously ajar.

    The window contained photographs of more or less undressed dancing girls; nondescript packages in wrappers like patent medicines; closed yellow paper envelopes, very flimsy, and marked two-and-six in heavy black figures; a few numbers of ancient French comic publications hung across a string as if to dry; a dingy blue china bowl, a casket of black wood, bottles of marking ink, and rubber stamps; a few books, with titles hinting at impropriety; a few apparently old copies of obscure newspapers, badly printed, with titles like The TorchThe Gong—rousing titles. And the two gas jets inside the panes were always turned low, either for economy’s sake or for the sake of the customers.

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  • THE SHRIEKING PIT BY ARTHUR J. REES

    Colwyn had never seen anything quite so eccentric in a public room as the behaviour of the young man breakfasting alone at the alcove table in the bay embrasure, and he became so absorbed in watching him that he permitted his own meal to grow cold, impatiently waving away the waiter who sought with obtrusive obsequiousness to recall his wandering attention by thrusting the menu card before him.

    To outward seeming the occupant of the alcove table was a good-looking young man, whose clear blue eyes, tanned skin and well-knit frame indicated the truly national product of common sense, cold water, and out-of-door pursuits; of a wholesomely English if not markedly intellectual type, pleasant to look at, and unmistakably of good birth and breeding. When a young man of this description, your fellow guest at a fashionable seaside hotel, who had been in the habit of giving you a courteous nod on his morning journey across the archipelago of snowy-topped tables under the convoy of the head waiter to his own table, comes in to breakfast with shaking hands, flushed face, and passes your table with unseeing eyes, you would probably conclude that he was under the influence of liquor, and in your English way you would severely blame him, not so much for the moral turpitude involved in his excess as for the bad taste, which prompted him to show himself in public in such a condition. If, on reaching his place, the young man’s conduct took the additional extravagant form of picking up a table-knife and sticking it into the table in front of him, you would probably enlarge your previous conclusion by admitting the hypotheses of drugs or dementia to account for such remarkable behaviour.

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