This book is a debut of Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. The novel marked the beginning of a new epoch in the crime genre and the world literature in general. In 1881 two gentlemen settled in the same apartment in London. One of them is a retired military surgeon named John H. Watson. We will learn this story from his memoirs. His neighbor is a private detective Sherlock Holmes who was wounded during the war. The detective makes Dr. Watson amazed by his knowledge and by his original methods of solving the crimes. Sherlock complains about the absence of the real criminals in London. It's the reason why he can't use his methods in practice. But suddenly he got a lucky opportunity from Scotland Yard. His friend who works there, told him about a strange murder committed in an empty house.
Dr Watson Remembers
In the year 1878 I became a doctor of medicine at the University of London, and then joined the Army as a surgeon. My first job was in Afghanistan, where I was shot in the shoulder. I went to hospital and started to recover, but then I became ill with a fever. For many months I was close to death, but finally I was strong enough to make the journey back to England.
My health was very weak and I had no friends or family in England. The Government gave me a small allowance for each day and with this money I lived well enough for a while in a hotel in London. But it soon became too expensive and I needed find somewhere cheaper to live. That how I met Mr Sherlock Holmes.
One day, I left the hotel and by chance I met a young man I knew called Stamford.
'Why, you're very thin and as brown as a nut, Watson. What have you been doing?'
We went to lunch together and I told him about my adventures and my current money problems.
'I may be able to help you,' said Stamford. 'I know a man who needs someone to share some nice rooms he's found. They're too expensive for him on his own.'
'I'm just the right man for him. When can I meet him?' Stamford gave me a strange look. 'You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet,' he said. 'You might not get on with him.'
'But why?' I asked. I was extremely curious about him.
'He's a decent man,' said Stamford, 'but he has some strange ideas. He studies many different things; medicine, science, anatomy... but apparently with no reason.'
'I'd still like to meet him,' I said.
After lunch we went to meet Sherlock Holmes at the laboratory where he worked.
'Dr Watson, Mr Sherlock Holmes,' said Stamford, introducing us. 'How are you?' he said, shaking my hand firmly. 'You've been in Afghanistan, I perceive.'
'How did you know that?' I asked in great surprise.
'Never mind,' he said laughing to himself.
'We came here on business,' interrupted Stamford. 'My friend here needs somewhere to live and I know that you need someone to share your rooms.'
Mr Holmes seemed pleased.
'I've seen some rooms in Baker Street,' he said. 'Do you mind the smell of tobacco?'
'I'm a smoker myself,' I answered.
'That's good. I also usually have chemicals about and sometimes do experiments. Would that be a problem for you?'
'No,' I replied.
'Hmm... What about you? We need to know the worst things about each other before we can live together.'
'I don't like noise, and I get up at strange times, and I'm very lazy.'
'Oh, that's alright!' he laughed. 'Come to see the rooms tomorrow. I'll meet you here at noon.'
On our way out, I suddenly remembered something.
'How did he know that I'd been in Afghanistan?' I asked.
Stamford smiled. 'Many people want to know how he finds things out.'
'Oh, a mystery is it? How very interesting!' I left Stamford and walked to my hotel, intrigued by my new acquaintance.
The rooms were at 221B Baker Street; two comfortable bedrooms and a large sitting room. We moved in immediately. As the weeks passed, my curiosity and interest in Sherlock Holmes increased. Even his appearance was extraordinary; he was over six feet tall, but he was thin so he appeared to be taller. He studied all kinds of subjects; his knowledge was remarkable, but so was his ignorance. For example, he did not know that the Earth travelled around the sun. 'But what do I care?' he said. 'If we go around the moon, it makes no difference to me or my work.'
'But what was his work?' I thought to myself.
During the first week we had no visitors and I thought that Holmes, like myself, had few friends. But soon I found that he had many acquaintances from all different classes of society. When these people came to visit, Holmes asked to use the sitting room and I went to my bedroom.
'I have to use this room as a place of business,' he explained, 'and these people are my clients.' Again, I wanted to ask him what his business was and soon my question was answered by Holmes himself.
While we were eating breakfast one morning, I was reading an article in a magazine. The article said that by looking carefully, a person could learn a lot from everyday details. The writer said that from an expression, a tiny movement or a look of an eye, one person could read another person's thoughts. With a lot of study, one could learn to tell what happened in a person's past. If you were good at observation, you could look carefully at their clothes and the way they looked. Then it would be easy to say what they did for a living.
I threw the magazine down. 'What absolute rubbish!' I exclaimed.
'What is it?' asked Sherlock Holmes.
'This article!' I replied. 'It's well written but it isn't practical. I'd like to see the writer on a train on the Underground. Could he successfully guess the jobs of all the other travellers?'
'I wrote that article,' said Sherlock Holmes calmly.
'Yes, I'm very good at observation and deduction. You could say it was my job, really.'
'How? I don't understand.'
'Well, I suppose I'm unique. I'm a consulting detective. Here in London we have government detectives and private detectives. When they are confused, they come to me for help. They tell me all the details of the crime. By using my knowledge and skills, I can usually tell them what to do to solve it.'
'But how can you explain a problem without leaving your room when other men who have seen every detail cannot?'
'Sometimes I do have to see the evidence with my own eyes. To me observation comes naturally. You were surprised on our first meeting. How did I know that you came from Afghanistan?'
'Somebody told you.'
'Of course not. From your manner, I knew that you were an army doctor. Afghanistan is a hot place and your face was brown from the sun. This wasn't your natural colour because your arms were white. Your face looked tired. This meant that you hadn't been well during your stay in Afghanistan. Your left arm was injured because you held it in an unnatural way. Where could an English army doctor have been ill and wounded? Obviously in Afghanistan. All these details went quickly through my mind and led me to the correct conclusion.'
'It's very simple when you explain it,' I said, smiling. I looked out of the window.
'I wonder who that is,' I said, pointing to the street, where a man was looking at the street numbers. He had a large envelope in his hand. Sherlock Holmes looked out.
'You mean the retired sergeant of the Marines?' he said.
'Hmm, very clever,' I thought to myself. 'How do I know if he's right?' But soon I had the chance to find out; the man knocked on the door and came up the stairs.
'For Mr Sherlock Holmes,' he said, handing him the envelope.
'Can I ask,' I said to the man, 'what it is that you do?'
'I was a sergeant, sir, in the Marines. Is that all, sir?'
'Sherlock Holmes was right again,' I thought, as the man left the room. 'Maybe he is as clever as he thinks he is.'
Meanwhile Sherlock Holmes was reading the letter. 'Here,' he said, giving it to me. 'Look at this.'
'But this is terrible!' I exclaimed after reading it. 'There's been a murder!'
Murder in Brixton
The letter stated that the circumstances of the murder were very strange. A policeman had seen a light in a house that he knew was empty. The front door was open. The policeman went in and discovered the body of a man on the floor of the empty room. The man was well dressed and had a business card in his pocket with the name 'Enoch Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.' written on it. Nothing was stolen from the man and, although there were marks of blood in the room, there was no injury on the body. It was a mystery how he had died.
The letter was from a Mr Gregson, who was a detective for Scotland Yard. He wanted Sherlock Holmes to visit the scene of the crime and help him solve the mysterious murder.
Sherlock Holmes seemed calm after I had read the letter to him.
'Shall I order you a cab?' I asked.
'I'm not sure if I'll go,' he said. 'Gregson and Lestrade, another detective, are working on the case. They need me to help them solve it, but then they'll get all the approval for it. But let's go. I can solve the mystery and laugh at Gregson and Lestrade, if nothing else.'
A minute later we were in a cab on our way to the murder scene.
The murder had taken place in Brixton Road. There was something extremely unpleasant about the house when we arrived there. No one lived in it and the windows looked empty and sad. The garden was small and untidy, and full of mud because it had rained the night before.
We stopped about a hundred yards before the house. Sherlock Holmes walked slowly down the pavement, looking at the area around us. He continued walking down the garden path, looking carefully at the ground. He stopped twice and seemed pleased about something, but I could see nothing except a lot of footprints. Mr Gregson met us at the door.
'Did you come here in a cab?' Holmes asked him.
'Then let's go into the room.'
The room seemed very large because there was no furniture in it. The wallpaper was old and torn. There was one window but it was so dirty it made the light look grey, like the dust that covered everything. Everything except the motionless body which lay on the floor, its eyes staring at the ceiling. It was the body of a man about forty-three years old. On his face there was an expression of horror and, it seemed to me, of hatred. I have never seen such an ugly and frightening corpse.
Sherlock Holmes examined the body, which was surrounded by many splashes of blood.
'Are you sure there's no injury?' he asked.
'Positive!' said both the detectives.
'Then the blood must belong to a second person, probably the murderer.'
Sherlock Holmes continued to examine the body closely. Finally he sniffed the dead man's lips.
'I've finished. Take the body away,' he said.
When the body was lifted, a ring fell from it and rolled across the floor.
Lestrade grabbed it, saying, 'A woman's been here, it's a woman's wedding ring!'
'What else did you find in his pockets?' asked Holmes.
'A gold watch and two letters, one addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson, both at the American Exchange, Strand. They are from a steamship company, tickets for boats from Liverpool to New York.'
'Have you made inquiries about this Stangerson?'
'Yes, but we've heard nothing yet,' said Gregson.
At this moment Lestrade appeared, looking pleased.
'I've made a very important discovery. Come with me.'
He took us back into the room.
'Look at that!' he said, pointing to the wall. In blood red letters, a single word was written: RACHE.
'The murderer has written this in his or her own blood. The writer was going to write the female name 'Rachel' but he or she didn't have time to finish it. You can laugh, Mr Holmes, but when this case is solved, I'm sure we'll find that a woman named Rachel had something to do with it.'
'I'm sorry,' said Holmes, who had offended Lestrade by laughing at his deductions. 'I haven't examined the room myself. Can I examine it now?'
Holmes moved around the room with a measuring tape and a magnifying glass. In one place he picked up a little pile of grey dust, which he put into an envelope. He examined the word on the wall with his magnifying glass. Then he put the tape and the glass back in his pocket.
'What do you think of it, sir?' the two detectives asked.
'You don't need me, you two are doing very well on your own,' he said. 'I want to talk to the policeman who found the body. Can you tell me where to find him?'
Lestrade gave him the name and address.
'Come, Doctor Watson. I'll tell you one thing which may help,' he said to the two detectives. 'The murderer is a man. He's a tall man, he has small feet, and he smokes cigars. He came here in a cab with his victim. He has a red face and long fingernails on his right hand.'
'But how was he murdered?' asked Lestrade, confused.
'Poison,' said Sherlock Holmes. 'One other thing: Rache is the German word for 'revenge', so don't waste your time looking for Miss Rachel. Goodbye.'
We left, leaving the two detectives lost for words behind us.
A Mysterious Visitor
After we left the house, we went to the nearest telegraph office, where Holmes sent a long telegram to America. We then went to talk to the policeman who found the body. On the way, I asked Holmes how he was so sure of the details of the murderer.
'Well,' he replied, 'I know he and the victim came in a cab, because there were two marks from the wheels. Gregson said that nobody else arrived in a cab in the morning, so it must have been the murderer. He must have gone there during the night.'
'How do you know he was tall?' I asked.
'From the distance between the footprints in the mud outside and in the dust inside the room. Anything else?'
'The fingernails and the cigar?' I asked.
'The writing on the wall was done in blood with a man's finger. With the magnifying glass, I saw that the wall was scratched, meaning that he had a long fingernail. Do you remember the grey dust I put in the envelope?'
I nodded. 'The ash from a cigar. That all makes sense,' I admitted, 'but I still feel confused. How did one man make the other take the poison? Where did the blood come from? What was the reason for the murder? Why was the woman's ring there? And why did the second man write the German word RACHE before leaving?'
Holmes smiled approvingly. 'You're right,' he said. 'There are still many things about this which remain a mystery. The word RACHE, however, was simply a trick to confuse the police. It'll make them think that Socialism and secret societies are involved. But now I've told you all I know for certain.'
We arrived at the policeman's house. We went in and he told us his story.
'... After I'd discovered the body, I went outside and signaled for help. Three more policeman arrived at the scene-'
'Was the street empty then?' interrupted Sherlock Holmes.
'Well, there was a very drunk man outside when I came out, singing and falling over. I had to help him stand up. He couldn't speak.'
'What did he look like?' asked Holmes.
'He was tall, with a red face-'
'That'll do!' said Holmes. 'What happened to this man?'
'There was enough to do without looking after him!' said the policeman. 'I think he went home.'
'You fool! That drunk man holds the clue to this mystery; he's the man we're looking for!' cried Holmes.
We left the policeman. 'But why did the murderer come back to the house?' I asked.
'For the ring; he came back for the ring! And that's how we can catch him,' said Holmes.
Holmes put a notice in every newspaper, saying that a gold wedding ring had been found in Brixton Road. He put my name and our address and invited people to call between eight and nine that evening to claim it.
'But I don't have a ring!' I said.
'This one will do,' he said, giving me a plain gold ring. 'The murderer doesn't want to lose it. He didn't know it was lost until after the murder and that's why he went back to the house last night. He pretended to be drunk when he found the police were already there. But he'll think that maybe he lost the ring in the road. He'll see our advertisement and will come to claim his ring.'
That evening, we waited for the murderer to arrive. There was a knock at the door. We heard a voice.
'Does Doctor Watson live here?'
'Come in,' I said.
To our surprise, a very old woman came slowly into the room. Sherlock Holmes looked disappointed.
'The ring belongs to my daughter Sally,' she said. 'She lost it last night and-'
'Is this her ring?' I asked.
'Oh, thank goodness! Sally will be so pleased.'
Holmes asked for her name and address and I gave her the ring. The old woman put it in her pocket and walked slowly down the stairs. As soon as she was gone, Sherlock Holmes put on his coat. 'I'll follow her,' he said. 'She must be helping the murderer, she'll lead me to him. Wait for me.'
He was away for a long time, but I did not feel at all sleepy so I did as he asked. It was midnight when he returned and told me what happened.
After the old woman left, she took a cab, asking to go to the address she gave to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes jumped onto the back of the cab where no one could see him. The cab reached the address and Holmes jumped off and watched. The driver opened the cab door but no one got out. His passenger had disappeared.
'But how did an old woman jump out of a moving cab?' I asked in surprise.
'That wasn't an old woman! It was a young man dressed up as an old woman. We were stupid not to see it. Doctor Watson, you look tired. Go to bed.' After such a long day, I did as he told me.
The next day, the newspapers were full of stories about the 'Brixton mystery'. Many of the newspapers thought that there was a political motive for the murder, because of the word written on the wall, and because there seemed to be no other explanation. The dead man was an American who was staying in London for a few weeks. He was staying at a small hotel owned by a Madame Charpentier, with his private secretary, Mr Joseph Stangerson.
The two men left the hotel on Tuesday to go to Euston Station to catch the train to Liverpool. They were seen on the platform at the station, but not again until Mr Drebber's body was found in the house in Brixton Road, a long way from Euston. The report in the Daily News read: 'The secretary, Mr Stangerson, has not been seen since and no one has heard from him. It is very important to find him.'
Holmes and I were reading the newspapers while we ate breakfast. Suddenly, I heard the sound of many steps in the hall and six street children ran into the room. They lined up in front of Holmes.
'Have you found it, Wiggins?' Holmes asked one of them.
'No sir, we haven't,' he said.
'Keep trying until you do. Here's your money.' He gave them all a coin each. 'Now off you go.' They ran down the stairs.
'They're better than the police force at finding things out,' Holmes said to me. 'They go everywhere and hear everything. There's one thing I need to know to help with this case. They'll find it soon. Look, here's Gregson coming down the road.'
A few seconds later, Gregson was in our living room, smiling contentedly.
'I've solved the case!' he announced. 'We have the murderer locked away!'
'And what's his name?'
'Arthur Charpentier, an officer in the Royal Navy.'
Holmes seemed relieved. 'Sit down and tell us all about it,' he said, giving Gregson a cigar and a drink.
'The funny thing is that Lestrade has got it completely wrong. He's been looking for the secretary, Mr Stangerson, who has nothing to do with the crime!' Gregson laughed. 'I'll tell you what happened.'
Gregson had found out that Drebber was staying at Charpentier's hotel before he was murdered. Gregson had gone to speak to Madame Charpentier and her daughter. They both looked very upset. Gregson asked at what time Drebber left to catch the train and if that was the last time they saw him. The mother said yes it was, but then her daughter, Alice, stopped her, saying, 'No good comes from lying, Mother. We did see Mr Drebber again. You must tell him everything.' So she did.
Madame Charpentier did not like Mr Drebber; he was rude and often drunk. He also tried to grab Alice and embrace her. Madame Charpentier told him to leave and was very pleased when he finally left.
She did not tell her son Arthur about Mr Drebber's actions. If she told him, he would become angry and maybe violent. But Mr Drebber returned to the house. He had missed the train and was drunk. He grabbed Alice's arm and wanted her to leave with him to become his wife. He was trying to pull her out of the door when Arthur came back. He stopped Drebber and took him outside. Then he came back with a stick in his hand.
'I don't think he'll trouble us again,' he said. 'I'll just follow him to see where he goes.' The next day they heard about Mr Drebber's death.
'I then asked her at what time her son returned,' said Gregson, 'but she didn't know. I questioned her again and again until she told me that Arthur Charpentier had been away for maybe four or five hours and she didn't know where he was. So of course I arrested him. He was still carrying the heavy stick. He must be guilty!'
'So, what's your theory?' asked Holmes.
'Well, I think he followed Drebber as far as Brixton Road and hit him in the stomach with the stick, to kill him without leaving any mark. Charpentier pulled the body into the empty house. The blood, the ring and the writing on the wall were all tricks to give the police the wrong idea.'
Just then, Lestrade walked into the room. He had come upstairs while we were talking. He looked unhappy.
'This is a most extraordinary case,' he said. 'I can't understand it.'
'Really, Mr Lestrade?' said Gregson, looking pleased. 'Did you find the secretary, Mr Stangerson?'
'The secretary, Mr Stangerson,' said Lestrade seriously, 'was murdered at Halliday's Hotel about six o'clock this morning.'
All three of us were very surprised by this news. Gregson jumped out of his chair, spilling his drink. 'Stangerson too,' Holmes said quietly. 'This story's becoming more and more complicated. Gregson's told us what he thinks. Can you tell us what you've seen and done, Lestrade?' he asked.
Lestrade sat down.
'Before, I thought that Stangerson was involved in the death of Drebber,' he said, 'but now he's dead too I know he wasn't responsible. But that was my theory, so I tried to find him.'
Lestrade told us that he had gone to many hotels near Euston station and asked if a Mr Stangerson was there. When Lestrade asked at the Halliday Hotel, they said yes, a Mr Stangerson was there and that he was expecting another gentleman to join him. They thought Lestrade was this gentleman, and sent him up to Stangerson's room.
'When I got to the door, I saw something which made me feel sick,' said Lestrade. 'A small, red stream of blood was coming from under the door. It had run across the corridor and collected on the other side. I opened the door, and there by the window was the body of a man.'
The man was Joseph Stangerson. He had died from a deep knife injury in his side. The strangest thing of all was that, again, above the murdered man, was written the word RACHE, in letters of blood. We were all silent.
Lestrade continued with his story.
'The murderer was seen by a young boy passing the hotel. He saw a ladder against one of the windows of the hotel, and when he looked back he saw a man coming down it. The man was tall, with a red face, and wore a long brown coat.'
'Did you find any clues in the room?' asked Holmes.
'There was a telegram in the dead man's pocket. It was from Cleveland, sent about a month ago, and it said "J. H. is in Europe."'
'There was a book, his pipe, a glass of water and by the window was a small box containing two pills,' replied Lestrade.
Sherlock Holmes jumped up from his chair in delight.
'The last link!' he cried. 'I now understand all the main facts of this case and I'll prove it to you. Do you have the two pills?'
'Here they are,' said Lestrade, giving Holmes a small white box.
'Doctor Watson,' said Holmes, 'can you get the poor dog from downstairs? It's been ill for so long. Only yesterday the landlady asked you to end its pain.'
I went downstairs and carried the dog up in my arms. It was very old and was breathing with great difficulty. Sherlock Holmes cut one of the pills in half and gave one half to the dog. Nothing happened.
'I don't understand how this is connected with the murder of Mr Stangerson,' said Lestrade as we sat there watching.
Holmes looked at his watch.
'This is impossible!' he cried. 'The pills which I thought were used on Drebber are found after the death of Stangerson, but they aren't poisonous. What can this mean? Surely I can't be wrong... Ah, I have it, I have it!'
He rushed to the box, cut the other pill in half and again gave half to the dog. Only seconds after it had eaten the pill, the dog was dead.
'I should have known,' said Holmes. 'One of the pills was deadly poison and the other was entirely harmless. Sometimes, gentlemen, it's a mistake to confuse strangeness with mystery. The strange details of this case have really made it easier to solve, not more difficult.'
Mr Gregson was tired of listening to Sherlock Holmes.
'Look, Mr Holmes, we know you are a very clever man and you have your own way of working. I've told you what I thought of the case, but it seems I was wrong. Arthur Charpentier isn't the murderer. Lestrade went after his man, Stangerson, and he was wrong too. You say you know this and you know that, and you seem to know more than we do. Tell me now, what do you know about this case? Can you name the man who did it?'
Lestrade nodded in agreement.
'I think Gregson is right, sir. We've both tried and we've both failed. Tell us what you know,' he said.
'If we wait any longer to arrest the murderer, he may kill somebody else,' I added. We waited as Holmes walked up and down, lost in thought.
'There'll be no more murders,' he said finally. 'I do know the name of the murderer, but that isn't the same as knowing how to catch him. But I expect this to happen very soon; I've made my own arrangements.' Just then there was a knock at the door, and young Wiggins ran into the room.
'Please, sir,' he said, 'I have the cab downstairs.'
'Good boy,' said Holmes. He took a pair of handcuffs from a drawer. 'Ask the cabdriver to come up and help me, Wiggins.'
I was surprised to hear this. I did not know that Sherlock Holmes was planning to go on a journey. Holmes pulled out a suitcase and bent over it as the cabdriver stepped into the room. 'Just help me with this a moment, driver,' he said.
The cabdriver walked forward and put his hands down to help. At that moment Sherlock Holmes put the handcuffs on his hands and jumped to his feet.
'Gentlemen,' he cried, 'this is Mr Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson.'
Everything seemed to stand still for a second: the cabdriver looked in surprise at the handcuffs. Then with an angry cry, he threw himself at the window. The glass smashed, but before he could escape, Gregson, Lestrade and Holmes grabbed him. He was pulled back into the room where a terrible fight began. He was so strong all four of us had difficulty holding him. At last, he realised he was trapped and stopped fighting. We tied up his feet and stood back, exhausted.
'We have his cab outside. We can use it to take him to Scotland Yard,' said Holmes. 'And now I'll be happy to explain everything.'
In the Country of the Saints
In the centre of North America there is a large desert, which for a long time stopped people crossing the continent. No one could live in the desert, many people died trying to cross it to reach more fertile lands.
In the year 1847, a traveller stood on a rocky cliff, looking across this empty land. All he could see were the bones of other people who had tried to reach the West. The man was dying from hunger and thirst. With him he had a small child, a girl, who he was carrying in a blanket. They were the only ones left of a group of twenty-one people who tried to travel to a better life, the others, including the little girl's mother, were dead. The man's name was John Ferrier, and as the little girl had no one else, he adopted her, and called her Lucy Ferrier. John knew that if he did not find food and water soon, both of them would die.
But he was very tired. He and Lucy sat down on the cliff above the desert. Before long both of them were asleep.
In the distance there was a cloud of dust. The cloud became bigger as it got nearer, until it was clear that it was made by a large group of moving creatures. It was a huge group of carts, men and women, children, horses and animals, who were travelling across America to find a new place to live. One of the men saw Lucy and John, high up on their cliff. The great trail of wagons, men and women stopped while some of the men climbed up to see who they were. John Ferrier woke up and was shocked to see the empty desert now full of people and life. The men took the man and the little girl to the wagons.
'Who are you?' asked John Ferrier. 'There are so many of you.'
'There are nearly ten thousand of us,' said one of the young men. 'We're the Mormons.'
'Where are you going?' asked John Ferrier.
'We don't know. The hand of God is leading us through our Prophet. You must come before him. He'll decide what to do with you.'
The Prophet, a man called Brigham Young, was in a large, brightly painted wagon, with six horses pulling it. Lucy and John stood before him.
'If we take you with us,' he said, 'you must become believers in our religion. Will you do that?'
'I don't think we have a choice,' said Ferrier. 'If we stay here, we'll die.'
'Take them then, Brother Stangerson,' said the Prophet 'and give them food and drink. It's your job to teach these two the way of the Mormons. Now let's move on!'
After a long and difficult journey the group of Mormons arrived in Utah, where they built Salt Lake City. The Prophet gave each person a piece of land to farm and to build on. He gave the biggest pieces of land to the two Elders of the Mormon religion; their names were Stangerson and Drebber.
He also gave land to John and Lucy Ferrier. On the journey, John proved he was very useful, he was a hard worker and a good hunter. John built a fine house for himself and Lucy and worked hard on his land and farm. Over twelve years he became rich and well known in the area.
There was just one thing that the Mormons did not like about John Ferrier. The Mormons practised polygamy; that is, having more than one wife. They wanted John to have many wives but John did not agree with this practice and preferred to stay unmarried.
As the years passed and John became rich, Lucy was also growing up. She became a very beautiful young woman, and this soon started to cause problems for the Ferriers.
One day, Lucy was riding into town to do some business for her father. She found herself surrounded by a herd of cattle.
Her horse became frightened and nearly threw Lucy to the ground. But at this moment a strong brown hand grabbed the reins of the frightened horse and brought the horse and Lucy to safety.
'I hope you're not hurt, Miss,' said the young man.
'I was very frightened,' she said. 'Thank you.'
'I guess you're the daughter of John Ferrier,' said the young man. 'Ask him if he remembers Jefferson Hope from St Louis. He and my father were good friends.'
'Why don't you come and ask him yourself?' said Lucy.
After Lucy left, Jefferson Hope realised that he had fallen in love with the beautiful young girl. He was determined to marry her and visited John Ferrier that same night. He visited the farm many times, telling stories of hunting, mining for silver and working on ranches. It was clear that Lucy, too, had fallen in love with the young man who had saved her.
One night, he came to the farm.
'I must go, Lucy,' he said. 'I won't ask you to come with me now, but will you be ready to come when I'm here again?'
'When will that be?' she asked.
'About two months. Your father's happy for us to get married, if I can make enough money to look after you.'
'If you and Father have arranged it all, there's nothing more to say,' she said, resting her head on his chest.
He kissed her. 'Goodbye my darling - in two months you'll see me again.' She watched him ride away, the happiest girl in all of Utah.
Three weeks passed before the trouble began. Brigham Young came to visit John Ferrier.
'Brother Ferrier,' said Brigham Young, 'we've been very good to you. You've grown rich with our help. In return, we asked you to become a true believer in our faith. But you've failed us. You haven't taken any wives, and now I hear that Lucy's going to be married to a man who isn't one of us. This can't be allowed.'
Ferrier was nervous at these words. Brigham Young continued.
'We the Elders want Lucy to marry one of our sons, either Stangerson's or Drebber's. They're both young and rich. Lucy must choose between them.'
Ferrier was silent for some time. At last he said, 'You must give us time. My daughter's very young.'
'Lucy can have a month to choose,' said Brigham Young. 'After that she must give us an answer.' He turned and left.
Lucy came into the room. Her frightened face showed that she knew what the Prophet planned for her.
'What can we do?' she asked. 'There are such terrible stories of what happens to people who don't do what the Prophet asks.'
'We'll send a message to Jefferson,' said her father. 'He'll help us to escape from Utah and the Mormons.'
'Leave Utah?' cried Lucy.
'We have no choice,' said John. 'We'll wait for Jefferson to come back and then we'll leave.'
'But they won't let us leave!' said Lucy.
'Wait until Jefferson comes. There's nothing to be afraid of and there's no danger.'
That night, John Ferrier very carefully locked all the doors and cleaned and loaded his old gun.
The next morning, John sent his message to Jefferson, asking him to return as soon as possible. When he returned to his farm, there were two young men sitting in his living room.
'Maybe you don't know who we are,' said one. 'This is the son of Elder Drebber and I'm Joseph Stangerson. We've come to help you decide which of us will marry Lucy.'
John Ferrier waited.
'As I have only four wives and Drebber has seven, I think it's better if Lucy chooses me,' said Stangerson.
'No, no,' said Drebber. 'I'm much richer than you. I can afford to keep more wives. She'll marry me.'
'For now, you can both stop fighting over my daughter and get out of my house!' shouted John.
'She has a month to choose. Now go!'
'You'll be sorry! shouted Stangerson as he left. 'No one opposes the Prophet!'
The next morning, John woke up to find a note on his bed. It said, Twenty nine days left. John did not know how this message was delivered as he slept. All the doors and windows were locked.
Every day John found another note, counting down the days until Lucy had to choose. There was still no news from Jefferson.
One evening John sat alone trying to think of a way out of his trouble. That morning the number two was written on the wall of his house. The next day was the last day of Lucy's freedom. Suddenly he heard a quiet scratching on the door to the house.
John opened the door. He looked right and left and saw no one.
Then he looked down, there on the ground was Jefferson Hope. 'You scared me!' said John. 'Why did you come like that?'
'How's Lucy?' asked Jefferson. 'Is she well?'
'She doesn't know the danger,' said John.
That's good. The house is watched on every side. That's why I crawled to the door like that. We must leave tonight. I have three horses waiting in the Eagle Canyon. Do you have money?' John nodded.
'Go and wake Lucy. We must leave at once'
They waited until a dark cloud covered the moon. Then they climbed out of the window into the small garden. Silently they crossed the garden into a field. Suddenly, Jefferson pulled them down into the shadow. They saw two men meet in the darkness. 'Tomorrow at midnight,' said one. 'Tell Brother Drebber.'
'Nine to seven!'
'Seven to five!' The two men separated and disappeared into the night.
Jefferson, Lucy and John quickly crossed the fields and came to the road. Soon the road led between two dark, rocky mountains: Eagle Canyon, where the horses were waiting for them. As they travelled further and further away from the Mormons, all three felt happier. But they were still inside the boundary of the Mormon city; a soldier stood on a cliff.
'Who goes there?' he shouted.
'Travellers for Nevada,' replied Jefferson.
'By whose permission?'
'The Holy Elders,' answered Ferrier.
'Nine to seven.'
'Seven to five,' replied Jefferson, remembering the code words he had heard earlier.
'You may pass,' said the figure.
The travellers knew that freedom lay ahead of them.
They continued through the night and at sunrise they stopped to eat and rest. But Jefferson did not want to wait long.
'They must be following us by now,' he said. 'We must get to Carson City and then we'll be safe.' They carried on.
On the second day, their food ran out and Jefferson knew that he must go hunting for food to survive. In a sheltered place, he built a small fire and left Lucy and John to rest while he went hunting. He searched for two or three hours without success, then he found and shot a wild sheep. He cut off as much meat as he could carry and started back to Lucy and John. But he was lost. It took him a long time to find his way and it was getting dark. Finally he recognised the place where Lucy and John were. He shouted to them but there was no reply. He rushed on and, turning the corner, found a pile of hot ashes from the fire but no sign of John and Lucy. Even the animals had gone.
Jefferson looked around him. At one side of the fire was a pile of earth. It was a new grave. On it was a stick with a piece of paper on it. It said John Ferrier Previously of Salt Lake City Died August 4.
Jefferson looked around for a second grave but there wasn't one. They must have taken Lucy back to become the wife of Drebber or Stangerson. As Jefferson realised that he was powerless, he wished that he too was dead like John Ferrier.
But then he decided to fight back, if he could not have Lucy, he would have revenge. He would kill Drebber and Stangerson.
For five days he walked back the way he had come with Lucy and John on horse days before. He was tired and hungry but still he kept going. On the sixth day he arrived in Eagle Canyon. From here he could see Salt Lake City, the home of the Mormons. A man on horseback was passing by. Jefferson knew him.
'Please, tell me what happened to Lucy Ferrier,' he asked the man.
The man looked scared. 'I can't be seen talking to you,' he said. 'They'll kill both of us.'
'Just tell me,' asked Jefferson.
'She was married yesterday to young Drebber,' he said. 'But I don't think he'll have Lucy for long. She's more like a ghost than a woman. What will you do?'
'I'm leaving,' said Jefferson. He turned and walked back into the mountains.
The man was right. Lucy never recovered from the loss of her father and Jefferson. In a month she was dead. Drebber did not seem sad. He only married her for her father's farm and wealth. But his other wives mourned for her, and sat with her body the night before she was buried. Early in the morning, they were sitting around the body when the door was thrown open and a savage looking man walked in. He walked up to the body that once contained the soul of Lucy Ferrier. He kissed her and then took the wedding ring from her finger.
'She won't be buried in that,' he said angrily. He disappeared as suddenly as he came.
For several months, Jefferson stayed in the mountains around the Mormon city. There were stories of attempts to kill Drebber and Stangerson. They knew it was Jefferson and tried to find their enemy and kill him before he killed them. But they failed.
Jefferson was ill from living in the mountains. He decided that his revenge could wait while he regained his health and earned some money.
Five years later, he returned to Salt Lake City, disguised and with a different name. However, the Mormons were no longer together. There was a split between the younger and older Mormons. Drebber and Stangerson were no longer Mormons and they left Salt Lake City. No one knew where they were. They only knew that Drebber was still very rich but Stangerson was not. He was working for Drebber as his secretary.
Jefferson travelled from city to city in America, searching for his enemies. Year after year, he continued his search until finally he found the two men in Cleveland, Ohio. But they managed to escape him again, by leaving for Europe. Jefferson worked for a while to earn the money to follow them, but he always just missed them. When he reached St Petersburg, they left for Paris; when he arrived in Paris, they went to Copenhagen. He followed them all over Europe until finally he found them in London. To know what happened there, we can return to the diary of Doctor Watson, where he recorded Jefferson Hope's story.
After we got our prisoner under control, he was very calm and did not try to hurt us anymore.
'I guess you're going to take me to the police station,' he said to Sherlock Holmes. 'My cab's downstairs. If you free my legs, I can walk down to it.'
Sherlock Holmes did as he asked, although Gregson and Lestrade looked worried. Jefferson Hope stood up.
'I can drive the cab,' said Lestrade. 'The doctor and Gregson can travel with you two inside.' We went downstairs to the cab. Jefferson did not try to escape and soon we were at the police station.
'I'd like to tell my side of the story,' said Jefferson Hope. 'My heart is weak and I won't live many more days, now my work is done. I don't want to be remembered as a cold-blooded murderer.'
He sat down and told his story.
'I hated these two men because they caused the death of two human beings, the girl I wanted to marry twenty years ago, and her father. That man Drebber forced her to marry him instead, and she died from a broken heart because of it. I've carried her wedding ring with me over two continents in my search for justice. Now the two men are dead and I killed them. My work is done.
'They were rich and I was poor. It wasn't easy to follow them. When I got to London, I had no money and took work as a cabdriver. I found out where they were staying and followed them. But they were clever. They never went out alone and never after dark. Finally my chance came. They separated at Euston station. I was close enough to hear their plans. Stangerson went to the Halliday Hotel to wait while Drebber returned to their old hotel, Madame Charpentier's. I followed Drebber, and waited outside.
'Soon Drebber came out with a very angry young man, who was about to hit him with a stick. But Drebber ran away. He saw my cab, jumped in, and asked to go to the Halliday Hotel. Finally he was in my cab. I took him to the house in Brixton Road, which I knew was empty.
'I didn't want to kill him without giving him a chance. I wanted him to know who I was and why he was going to die. One of the jobs I did in America was working in a laboratory as a cleaner. In the laboratory there was a deadly poison, which I made into a pill. I made some pills which were harmless and some with the deadly poison. With these I could give Drebber the chance to choose, and I would eat the other pill.
'When we arrived at the house, Drebber was still drunk and he thought it was the hotel. He followed me down the path and we went into the empty room. I lit a candle and turned to him. "Now Enoch Drebber, who am I?"
'He stared at me drunkenly, the horror showing in his face as he realised who I was.
'Are you going to murder me?' he stammered.
'Did you show mercy to Lucy and her father?' I cried. 'Let God judge between us. Choose and swallow,' I said, holding out the pills. 'There's life in one and death in the other. Let's see if there's justice on the earth.'
'I held my knife to his throat until he obeyed me. I swallowed the other pill and we waited. I'll never forget the look on his face as he felt the poison in his body. I held Lucy's wedding ring in front of his eyes before he fell to the ground. He was dead.
'Blood was running from my nose. I don't know why I wrote on the wall with it, perhaps to confuse the police. After I wrote the word on the wall, I returned to my cab and drove away. I put my hand in my pocket for Lucy's ring: it was gone. The ring was the only thing I had to remind me of Lucy so I returned to the house and walked straight into a policeman. I pretended to be drunk and got away.
'That's how Enoch Drebber died. Now I wanted to find Stangerson. I went to his hotel and I soon found out which was his window. I climbed a ladder into his room and gave him the same choice of pills I gave Drebber. But Stangerson jumped up from his bed and attacked me. I stabbed him.
'My business was done and I wanted to work a little more to earn money to return to America. I was standing in the cabdriver's yard when a poor young boy asked for a cabdriver named Jefferson Hope. He said that his cab was wanted at 221B Baker Street. I went there, suspecting nothing, and the next thing I knew, this man had put the handcuffs on me. That's my story, gentlemen. You may think I'm a murderer, but I think I'm as much an officer of justice as you are.'
We sat in silence for a minute after this man's story of justice and retribution.
'There's just one thing I want to ask,' said Sherlock Holmes. 'Who was your friend who came for the ring?'
Jefferson Hope smiled. 'I can tell my own secrets,' he said, 'but I don't cause other people trouble. He was a friend who offered to go in case it was a trap. He did it well, didn't he?'
'Yes, indeed,' said Sherlock Holmes.
'Now gentlemen,' said the officer in charge, 'the prisoner will be held here until Thursday, when he goes to court.' Jefferson Hope was taken off to a prison cell. Sherlock Holmes and I went back to Baker Street.
A Case Solved
We were expected in court with Jefferson Hope on Thursday. However, when Thursday came, Jefferson Hope was already dead. On the night after his arrest, his weak heart finally stopped beating and he was found the next morning in his prison cell, lying on the floor with a contented smile on his face.
Sherlock Holmes was cheerful.
'I'm so glad I didn't miss this investigation!' he said. 'It really has been a very interesting case. Although it was very simple, there are many useful things to be learned from it.'
'Simple?' I exclaimed.
'Of course,' said Sherlock Holmes. 'The proof is that, with only a few ordinary deductions, I was able to find the criminal in only three days.'
'That's true,' I said.
'This was a case where we had the result and had to work backwards. I knew that two men arrived at the house in a cab from the tracks of the wheels and the footprints outside. There was no injury on the dead man's body. I sniffed his lips and smelt a bitter smell: poison. Because of the expression on his face, I knew that someone had forced him to take the poison.
'Now the question was why? There was no robbery. It was either politics or a woman. When the ring was found, that answered the question. The murderer used the ring to remind his victim of a dead or absent woman. At this point I asked Gregson if he had asked anything in particular about Drebber's past in his telegram to Cleveland. He said no, so I did his work for him. When I contacted Cleveland, I asked only about the marriage of Enoch Drebber. They told me that Drebber asked for the protection of the law from an old rival in love called Jefferson Hope, and that this man Hope was in Europe. You remember the telegram in Stangerson's pocket: "J. H. is in Europe."
'I knew that the murderer was also the driver of the cab. If a man wanted to commit murder, he wouldn't do it with someone else, a cabdriver, waiting outside. Also, a cabdriver is the perfect job for following someone around London. That's why I asked young Wiggins to ask in every cab company in London for a driver named Jefferson Hope. As you know, he found him and brought him to me.'
'You really are wonderful, Holmes,' I said. 'Your achievements should be publicly recognised. I'll publish your account of the case.'
'You can try,' said Holmes, 'but look at this,' he said, handing me a newspaper.
It read: 'Jefferson Hope, suspected murderer of Mr Enoch Drebber and Mr Joseph Stangerson, has died. The details of the case will probably never be known, although we do know that the crimes were a result of an old feud, in which love and Mormonism played a part. Both the victims belonged to the religious group the Mormons when they were young. Hope also comes from Salt Lake City, where the Mormons founded their religion.
'Our police force has been very efficient in capturing the murderer. All credit must go to the well-known detectives, Gregson and Lestrade. The murderer was captured in the rooms of a Mr Sherlock Holmes, an amateur detective who has also shown some talent. Perhaps, in time, he will be as clever as Gregson and Lestrade.'
'Didn't I tell you at the start?' laughed Holmes. 'For all our hard work, Gregson and Lestrade take all the credit!'
'Never mind,' I answered. 'I have all the facts in my diary and the public will know them, even though no one else appreciates you!'
- THE END -
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