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Chapter 7 The Conclusion

  • We had all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon the Thursday; bu_hen the Thursday came there was no occasion for our testimony. A higher Judg_ad taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned before _ribunal where strict justice would be meted out to him. On the very nigh_fter his capture the aneurism burst, and he was found in the mornin_tretched upon the floor of the cell, with a placid smile upon his face, a_hough he had been able in his dying moments to look back upon a useful life,
  • and on work well done.
  • "Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death," Holmes remarked, as w_hatted it over next evening. "Where will their grand advertisement be now?"
  • "I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture," I answered.
  • "What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence," returned m_ompanion, bitterly. "The question is, what can you make people believe tha_ou have done. Never mind," he continued, more brightly, after a pause. "_ould not have missed the investigation for anything. There has been no bette_ase within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several mos_nstructive points about it."
  • "Simple!" I ejaculated.
  • "Well, really, it can hardly be described as otherwise," said Sherlock Holmes,
  • smiling at my surprise. "The proof of its intrinsic simplicity is, tha_ithout any help save a few very ordinary deductions I was able to lay my han_pon the criminal within three days."
  • "That is true," said I.
  • "I have already explained to you that what is out of the common is usually _uide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the gran_hing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment,
  • and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-da_ffairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other come_o be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who ca_eason analytically."
  • "I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow you."
  • "I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it clearer. Mos_eople, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what th_esult would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argu_rom them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however,
  • who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inne_onsciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power i_hat I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically."
  • "I understand," said I.
  • "Now this was a case in which you were given the result and had to fin_verything else for yourself. Now let me endeavour to show you the differen_teps in my reasoning. To begin at the beginning. I approached the house, a_ou know, on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all impressions. _aturally began by examining the roadway, and there, as I have alread_xplained to you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which, I ascertained b_nquiry, must have been there during the night. I satisfied myself that it wa_ cab and not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the wheels. Th_rdinary London growler is considerably less wide than a gentleman's brougham.
  • "This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly down the garden path,
  • which happened to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable for takin_mpressions. No doubt it appeared to you to be a mere trampled line of slush,
  • but to my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had a meaning. There is n_ranch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as th_rt of tracing footsteps. Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it,
  • and much practice has made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy footmark_f the constables, but I saw also the track of the two men who had firs_assed through the garden. It was easy to tell that they had been before th_thers, because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by th_thers coming upon the top of them. In this way my second link was formed,
  • which told me that the nocturnal visitors were two in number, one remarkabl_or his height (as I calculated from the length of his stride), and the othe_ashionably dressed, to judge from the small and elegant impression left b_is boots.
  • "On entering the house this last inference was confirmed. My well-booted ma_ay before me. The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder there was.
  • There was no wound upon the dead man's person, but the agitated expressio_pon his face assured me that he had foreseen his fate before it came upo_im. Men who die from heart disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by an_hance exhibit agitation upon their features. Having sniffed the dead man'_ips I detected a slightly sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that h_ad had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued that it had been forced upo_im from the hatred and fear expressed upon his face. By the method o_xclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis would mee_he facts. Do not imagine that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcibl_dministration of poison is by no means a new thing in criminal annals. Th_ases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at onc_o any toxicologist.
  • "And now came the great question as to the reason why. Robbery had not bee_he object of the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it politics, then, or wa_t a woman? That was the question which confronted me. I was inclined from th_irst to the latter supposition. Political assassins are only too glad to d_heir work and to fly. This murder had, on the contrary, been done mos_eliberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all over the room,
  • showing that he had been there all the time. It must have been a privat_rong, and not a political one, which called for such a methodical revenge.
  • When the inscription was discovered upon the wall I was more inclined tha_ver to my opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring wa_ound, however, it settled the question. Clearly the murderer had used it t_emind his victim of some dead or absent woman. It was at this point that _sked Gregson whether he had enquired in his telegram to Cleveland as to an_articular point in Mr. Drebber's former career. He answered, you remember, i_he negative.
  • "I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room, which confirme_e in my opinion as to the murderer's height, and furnished me with th_dditional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar and the length of his nails. _ad already come to the conclusion, since there were no signs of a struggle,
  • that the blood which covered the floor had burst from the murderer's nose i_is excitement. I could perceive that the track of blood coincided with th_rack of his feet. It is seldom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded,
  • breaks out in this way through emotion, so I hazarded the opinion that th_riminal was probably a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that I ha_udged correctly.
  • "Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had neglected. _elegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland, limiting my enquiry to th_ircumstances connected with the marriage of Enoch Drebber. The answer wa_onclusive. It told me that Drebber had already applied for the protection o_he law against an old rival in love, named Jefferson Hope, and that this sam_ope was at present in Europe. I knew now that I held the clue to the myster_n my hand, and all that remained was to secure the murderer.
  • "I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had walked into th_ouse with Drebber, was none other than the man who had driven the cab. Th_arks in the road showed me that the horse had wandered on in a way whic_ould have been impossible had there been anyone in charge of it. Where, then,
  • could the driver be, unless he were inside the house? Again, it is absurd t_uppose that any sane man would carry out a deliberate crime under the ver_yes, as it were, of a third person, who was sure to betray him. Lastly,
  • supposing one man wished to dog another through London, what better mean_ould he adopt than to turn cabdriver. All these considerations led me to th_rresistible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarvey_f the Metropolis.
  • "If he had been one there was no reason to believe that he had ceased to be.
  • On the contrary, from his point of view, any sudden chance would be likely t_raw attention to himself. He would, probably, for a time at least, continu_o perform his duties. There was no reason to suppose that he was going unde_n assumed name. Why should he change his name in a country where no one kne_is original one? I therefore organized my Street Arab detective corps, an_ent them systematically to every cab proprietor in London until they ferrete_ut the man that I wanted. How well they succeeded, and how quickly I too_dvantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection. The murder o_tangerson was an incident which was entirely unexpected, but which coul_ardly in any case have been prevented. Through it, as you know, I came int_ossession of the pills, the existence of which I had already surmised. Yo_ee the whole thing is a chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw."
  • "It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should be publicly recognized. Yo_hould publish an account of the case. If you won't, I will for you."
  • "You may do what you like, Doctor," he answered. "See here!" he continued,
  • handing a paper over to me, "look at this!"
  • It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph to which he pointed was devote_o the case in question.
  • "The public," it said, "have lost a sensational treat through the sudden deat_f the man Hope, who was suspected of the murder of Mr. Enoch Drebber and o_r. Joseph Stangerson. The details of the case will probably be never know_ow, though we are informed upon good authority that the crime was the resul_f an old standing and romantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore a part.
  • It seems that both the victims belonged, in their younger days, to the Latte_ay Saints, and Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake City.
  • If the case has had no other effect, it, at least, brings out in the mos_triking manner the efficiency of our detective police force, and will serv_s a lesson to all foreigners that they will do wisely to settle their feud_t home, and not to carry them on to British soil. It is an open secret tha_he credit of this smart capture belongs entirely to the well-known Scotlan_ard officials, Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was apprehended, i_ppears, in the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as a_mateur, shown some talent in the detective line, and who, with suc_nstructors, may hope in time to attain to some degree of their skill. It i_xpected that a testimonial of some sort will be presented to the two officer_s a fitting recognition of their services."
  • "Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried Sherlock Holmes with a laugh.
  • "That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet: to get them a testimonial!"
  • "Never mind," I answered, "I have all the facts in my journal, and the publi_hall know them. In the meantime you must make yourself contented by th_onsciousness of success, like the Roman miser —
  • "'Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar i_rca.'"