THE CASE BOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
This text is in the Public Domain.
The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone
The Problem of Thor Bridge
The Adventure of the Creeping Man
The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
The Adventure of the Illustrious Client
The Adventure of the Three Gables
The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
The Adventure of the Lion's Mane
The Adventure of the Retired Colourman
The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger
The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place
THE CASE BOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular
tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated
farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must
go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary. One likes to think that there
is some fantastic limbo for the children of imagination, some strange,
impossible place where the beaux of Fielding may still make love to the
belles of Richardson, where Scott's heroes still may strut, Dickens's
delightful Cockneys still raise a laugh, and Thackeray's worldlings continue
to carry on their reprehensible careers. Perhaps in some humble corner of
such a Valhalla, Sherlock and his Watson may for a time find a place, while
some more astute sleuth with some even less astute comrade may fill the
stage which they have vacated.
His career has been a long one -- though it is possible to exaggerate it;
decrepit gentlemen who approach me and declare that his adventures
formed the reading of their boyhood do not meet the response from me
which they seem to expect. One is not anxious to have one's personal
dates handled so unkindly. As a matter of cold fact, Holmes made his
debut in A Study in Scarlet and in The Sign of Four, two small booklets
which appeared between 1887 and 1889. It was in 1891 that "A Scandal
in Bohemia," the first of the long series of short stories, appeared in The
Strand Magazine. The public seemed appreciative and desirous of more,
so that from that date, thirty-nine years ago, they have been produced in
a broken series which now contains no fewer than fifty-six stories,
republished in The Adventures, The Memoirs, The Return, and His Last
Bow. and there remain these twelve published during the last few years
which are here produced under the title of The Case Book of Sherlock
Holmes. He began his adventures in the very heart of the later Victorian
era, carried it through the all-too-short reign of Edward, and has managed to
hold his own little niche even in these feverish days. Thus it would be true
to say that those who first read of him, as young men, have lived to see
their own grown-up children following the same adventures in the same
magazine. It is a striking example of the patience and loyalty of the British
I had fully determined at the conclusion of The Memoirs to bring Holmes
to an end, as I felt that my literary energies should not be directed too
much into one channel. That pale, clear-cut face and loose-limbed figure
were taking up an undue share of my imagination. I did the deed, but
fortunately no coroner had pronounced upon the remains, and so, after a
long interval, it was not difficult for me to respond to the flattering demand
and to explain my rash act away. I have never regretted it, for I have not in
actual practice found that these lighter sketches have prevented me from
exploring and finding my limitations in such varied branches of literature as
history, poetry, historical novels, psychic research, and the drama. Had
Holmes never existed I could not have done more, though he may perhaps
have stood a little in the way of the recognition of my more serious literary
And so, reader, farewell to Sherlock Holmes! I thank you for your past
constancy, and can but hope that some return has been made in the shape
of that distraction from the worries of life and stimulating change of
thought which can only be found in the fairy kingdom of romance.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone
It was pleasant to Dr. Watson to find himself once more in the
untidy room of the first floor in Baker Street which had been the
starting-point of so many remarkable adventures. He looked
round him at the scientific charts upon the wall, the acid-charred
bench of chemicals, the violin-case leaning in the corner, the
coal-scuttle, which contained of old the pipes and tobacco. Fi-
nally, his eyes came round to the fresh and smiling face of Billy,
the young but very wise and tactful page, who had helped a little
to fill up the gap of loneliness and isolation which surrounded
the saturnine figure of the great detective.
"It all seems very unchanged, Billy. You don't change, ei-
ther. I hope the same can be said of him?"
Billy glanced with some solicitude at the closed door of the
"I think he's in bed and asleep," he said.
It was seven in the evening of a lovely summer's day, but Dr.
Watson was sufficiently familiar with the irregularity of his old
friend's hours to feel no surprise at the idea.
"That means a case, I suppose?"
"Yes, sir, he is very hard at it just now. I'm frightened for his
health. He gets paler and thinner, and he eats nothing. 'When
will you be pleased to dine, Mr. Holmes?' Mrs. Hudson asked.
'Seven-thirty, the day after to-morrow,' said he. You know his
way when he is keen on a case."
"Yes, Billy, I know."
"He's following someone. Yesterday he was out as a work-
man looking for a job. To-day he was an old woman. Fairly took
me in, he did, and I ought to know his ways by now." Billy
pointed with a grin to a very baggy parasol which leaned against
the sofa. "That's part of the old woman's outfit," he said.
"But what is it all about, Billy?"
Billy sank his voice, as one who discusses great secrets of
State. "I don't mind telling you, sir, but it should go no farther.
It's this case of the Crown diamond."
"What -- the hundred-thousand-pound burglary?"
"Yes, sir. They must get it back, sir. Why, we had the Prime
Minister and the Home Secretary both sitting on that very sofa.
Mr. Holmes was very nice to them. He soon put them at their
ease and promised he would do all he could. Then there is Lord
"Yes, sir, you know what that means. He's a stiff'un, sir, if I
may say so. I can get along with the Prime Minister, and I've
nothing against the Home Secretary, who seemed a civil, oblig-
ing sort of man, but I can't stand his Lordship. Neither can Mr.
Holmes, sir. You see, he don't believe in Mr. Holmes and he
was against employing him. He'd rather he failed."
"And Mr. Holmes knows it?"
"Mr. Holmes always knows whatever there is to know."
"Well, we'll hope he won't fail and that Lord Cantlemere will
be confounded. But I say, Billy, what is that curtain for across
"Mr. Holmes had it put up there three days ago. We've got
something funny behind it."
Billy advanced and drew away the drapery which screened the
alcove of the bow window.
Dr. Watson could not restrain a cry of amazement. There was a
facsimile of his old friend, dressing-gown and all, the face
turned three-quarters towards the window and downward, as
though reading an invisible book, while the body was sunk deep
in an armchair. Billy detached the head and held it in the air.
"We put it at different angles, so that it may seem more
lifelike. I wouldn't dare touch it if the blind were not down. But
when it's up you can see this from across the way."
"We used something of the sort once before."
"Before my time," said Billy. He drew the window curtains
apart and looked out into the street. "There are folk who watch
us from over yonder. I can see a fellow now at the window.
Have a look for yourself."
Watson had taken a step forward when the bedroom door
opened, and the long, thin form of Holmes emerged, his face pale
and drawn, but his step and bearing as active as ever. With a
single spring he was at the window, and had drawn the blind
"That will do, Billy," said he. "You were in danger of your
life then, my boy, and I can't do without you just yet. Well,
Watson, it is good to see you in your old quarters once again.
You come at a critical moment."
"So I gather."
"You can go, Billy. That boy is a problem, Watson. How far
am I justified in allowing him to be in danger?"
"Danger of what, Holmes?"
"Of sudden death. I'm expecting something this evening."
"To be murdered, Watson."
"No, no, you are joking, Holmes!"
"Even my limited sense of humour could evolve a better joke
than that. But we may be comfortable in the meantime, may we
not? Is alcohol permitted? The gasogene and cigars are in the old
place. Let me see you once more in the customary armchair.
You have not, I hope, learned to despise my pipe and my
lamentable tobacco? It has to take the place of food these days."
"But why not eat?"
"Because the faculties become refined when you starve them.
Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that
what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much
lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere
appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider."
"But this danger, Holmes?"
"Ah. yes, in case it should come off, it would perhaps be as
well that you should burden your memory with the name and
address of the murderer. You can give it to Scotland Yard, with
my love and a parting blessing. Sylvius is the name -- Count
Negretto Sylvius. Write it down, man, write it down! 136 Moorside
Gardens, N. W. Got it?"
Watson's honest face was twitching with anxiety. He knew
only too well the immense risks taken by Holmes and was well
aware that what he said was more likely to be under-statement
than exaggeration. Watson was always the man of action, and he
rose to the occasion.
"Count me in, Holmes. I have nothing to do for a day or
"Your morals don't improve, Watson. You have added fib-
bing to your other vices. You bear every sign of the busy
medical man, with calls on him every hour."
"Not such important ones. But can't you have this fellow
"Yes, Watson, I could. That's what worries him so."
"But why don't you?"
"Because I don't know where the diamond is."
"Ah! Billy told me -- the missing Crown jewel!"
"Yes, the great yellow Mazarin stone. I've cast my net and I
have my fish. But I have not got the stone. What is the use of
taking them? We can make the world a better place by laying
them by the heels. But that is not what I am out for. It's the
stone I want."
"And is this Count Sylvius one of your fish?"
"Yes, and he's a shark. He bites. The other is Sam Merton
the boxer. Not a bad fellow, Sam, but the Count has used him.
Sam's not a shark. He is a great big silly bull-headed gudgeon.
But he is flopping about in my net all the same."
"Where is this Count Sylvius?"
"I've been at his very elbow all the morning. You've seen me
as an old lady, Watson. I was never more convincing. He
actually picked up my parasol for me once. 'By your leave,
madame,' said he -- half-ltalian, you know, and with the South-
ern graces of manner when in the mood, but a devil incarnate in
the other mood. Life is full of whimsical happenings, Watson."
"It might have been tragedy."
"Well, perhaps it might. I followed him to old Straubenzee's
workshop in the Minories. Straubenzee made the air-gun -- a very
pretty bit of work, as I understand, and I rather fancy it is in the
opposite window at the present moment. Have you seen the
dummy? Of course, Billy showed it to you. Well, it may get a
bullet through its beautiful head at any moment. Ah, Billy, what
The boy had reappeared in the room with a card upon a tray.
Holmes glanced at it with raised eyebrows and an amused smile.
"The man himself. I had hardly expected this. Grasp the
nettle, Watson! A man of nerve. Possibly you have heard of his
reputation as a shooter of big game. It would indeed be a
triumphant ending to his excellent sporting record if he added me
to his bag. This is a proof that he feels my toe very close behind
"Send for the police."
"I probably shall. But not just yet. Would you glance care-
fully out of the window, Watson, and see if anyone is hanging
about in the street?"
Watson looked warily round the edge of the curtain.
"Yes, there is one rough fellow near the door."
"That will be Sam Merton -- the faithful but rather fatuous
Sam. Where is this gentleman, Billy?"
"In the waiting-room, sir."
"Show him up when I ring."
"If I am not in the room, show him in all the same."
Watson waited until the door was closed, and then he turned
earnestly to his companion.
"Look here, Holmes, this is simply impossible. This is a
desperate man, who sticks at nothing. He may have come to
"I should not be surprised."
"I insist upon staying with you."
"You would be horribly in the way."
"In his way?"
"No, my dear fellow -- in my way."
"Well, I can't possibly leave you."
"Yes, you can, Watson. And you will, for you have never failed
to play the game. I am sure you will play it to the end. This man
has come for his own purpose, but he may stay for mine."
Holmes took out his notebook and scribbled a few lines. "Take a
cab to Scotland Yard and give this to Youghal of the C. I. D.
Come back with the police. The fellow's arrest will follow."
"I'll do that with joy.
"Before you return I may have just time enough to find out
where the stone is." He touched the bell. "I think we will go out
through the bedroom. This second exit is exceedingly useful. I
rather want to see my shark without his seeing me, and I have,
as you will remember, my own way of doing it."
It was, therefore, an empty room into which Billy, a minute
later, ushered Count Sylvius. The famous game-shot, sportsman,
and man-about-town was a big, swarthy fellow, with a formida-
ble dark moustache shading a cruel, thin-lipped mouth, and
surmounted by a long, curved nose like the beak of an eagle. He
was well dressed, but his brilliant necktie, shining pin, and
glittering rings were flamboyant in their effect. As the door
closed behind him he looked round him with fierce, startled
eyes, like one who suspects a trap at every turn. Then he gave a
violent start as he saw the impassive head and the collar of the
dressing-gown which projected above the armchair in the win-
dow. At first his expression was one of pure amazement. Then
the light of a horrible hope gleamed in his dark, murderous eyes.
He took one more glance round to see that there were no
witnesses, and then, on tiptoe, his thick stick half raised, he
approached the silent figure. He was crouching for his final
spring and blow when a cool, sardonic voice greeted him from
the open bedroom door:
"Don't break it, Count! Don't break it!"
The assassin staggered back, amazement in his convulsed
face. For an instant he half raised his loaded cane once more, as
if he would turn his violence from the effigy to the original; but
there was something in that steady gray eye and mocking smile
which caused his hand to sink to his side.
"It's a pretty little thing," said Holmes, advancing towards
the image. "Tavernier, the French modeller, made it. He is as
good at waxworks as your friend Straubenzee is at air-guns."
"Air-guns, sir! What do you mean?"
"Put your hat and stick on the side-table. Thank you! Pray
take a seat. Would you care to put your revolver out also? Oh,
very good, if you prefer to sit upon it. Your visit is really most
opportune, for I wanted badly to have a few minutes' chat with
The Count scowled, with heavy, threatening eyebrows.
"I, too, wished to have some words with you, Holmes. That
is why I am here. I won't deny that I intended to assault you just
Holmes swung his leg on the edge of the table.
"I rather gathered that you had some idea of the sort in your
head," said he. "But why these personal attentions?"
"Because you have gone out of your way to annoy me.
Because you have put your creatures upon my track."
"My creatures! I assure you no!"
"Nonsense! I have had them followed. Two can play at that
"It is a small point, Count Sylvius, but perhaps you would
kindly give me my prefix when you address me. You can
understand that, with my routine of work, I should find myself
on familiar terms with half the rogues' gallery, and you will
agree that exceptions are invidious."
"Well, Mr. Holmes, then."
"Excellent! But I assure you you are mistaken about my
Count Sylvius laughed contemptuously.
"Other people can observe as well as you. Yesterday there
was an old sporting man. To-day it was an elderly woman. They
held me in view all day."
"Really, sir, you compliment me. Old Baron Dowson said the
night before he was hanged that in my case what the law had
gained the stage had lost. And now you give my little impersona-
tions your kindly praise?"
"It was you -- you yourself?"
Holmes shrugged his shoulders. "You can see in the corner
the parasol which you so politely handed to me in the Minories
before you began to suspect."
"If I had known, you might never --"
"Have seen this humble home again. I was well aware of it.
We all have neglected opportunities to deplore. As it happens,
you did not know, so here we are!"
The Count's knotted brows gathered more heavily over his
menacing eyes. "What you say only makes the matter worse. It
was not your agents but your play-acting, busybody self! You
admit that you have dogged me. Why?"
"Come now, Count. You used to shoot lions in Algeria."
"Why? The sport -- the excitement -- the danger!"
"And, no doubt, to free the country from a pest?"
"My reasons in a nutshell!"
The Count sprang to his feet, and his hand involuntarily
moved back to his hip-pocket.
"Sit down, sir, sit down! There was another, more practical,
reason. I want that yellow diamond!"
Count Sylvius lay back in his chair with an evil smile.
"Upon my word!" said he.
"You knew that I was after you for that. The real reason why
you are here to-night is to find out how much I know about the
matter and how far my removal is absolutely essential. Well, I
should say that, from your point of view, it is absolutely essen-
tial, for I know all about it, save only one thing, which you are
about to tell me."
"Oh, indeed! And pray, what is this missing fact?"
"Where the Crown diamond now is."
The Count looked sharply at his companion. "Oh, you want
to know that, do you? How the devil should I be able to lell you
where it is?"
"You can, and you will."
"You can't bluff me, Count Sylvius." Holmes's eyes, as he
gazed at him, contracted and lightened until they were like two
menacing points of steel. "You are absolute plate-glass. I see to
the very back of your mind."
"Then, of course, you see where the diamond is!"
Holmes clapped his hands with amusement, and then pointed a
derisive finger. "Then you do know. You have admitted it!"
"I admit nothing."
"Now, Count, if you will be reasonable we can do business.
If not, you will get hurt."
Count Sylvius threw up his eyes to the ceiling. "And you talk
about bluff!" said he.
Holmes looked at him thoughtfully like a master chess-player
who meditates his crowning move. Then he threw open the table
drawer and drew out a squat notebook.
"Do you know what I keep in this book?"
"No, sir, I do not!"
"Yes, sir, you! You are all here -- every action of yor vile
and dangerous life."
"Damn you, Holmes!" cried the Count with blazing eyes.
"There are limits to my patience!"
"It's all here, Count. The real facts as to the death of old Mrs.