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Chapter 4 The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

  • Holmes had read carefully a note which the last post had brought him. Then, with the dry chuckle which was his nearest approach to a laugh, he tossed i_ver to me.
  • "For a mixture of the modern and the mediaeval, of the practical and of th_ildly fanciful, I think this is surely the limit," said he. "What do you mak_f it, Watson?"
  • I read as follows:
  • 46, OLD JEWRY,
  • Nov. 19th.
  • Re Vampires
  • SIR:
  • Our client, Mr. Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson and
  • Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, has made some
  • inquiry from us in a communication of even date concerning
  • vampires. As our firm specializes entirely upon the as-
  • sessment of machinery the matter hardly comes within our
  • purview, and we have therefore recommended Mr. Fergu- son to call upon you an_ay the matter before you. We
  • have not forgotten your successful action in the case of
  • Matilda Briggs.
  • We are, sir,
  • Faithfully yours,
  • MORRISON, MORRISON, AND DODD.
  • per E. J. C.
  • "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson," said Holmes in _eminiscent voice. "It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat o_umatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared. But what do we kno_bout vampires? Does it come within our purview either? Anything is bette_han stagnation, but really we seem to have been switched on to a Grimms'
  • fairy tale. Make a long arm, Watson, and see what V has to say."
  • I leaned back and took down the great index volume to which he referred.
  • Holmes balanced it on his knee, and his eyes moved slowly and lovingly ove_he record of old cases, mixed with the accumulated information of a lifetime.
  • "Voyage of the Gloria Scott," he read. "That was a bad business. I have som_ecollection that you made a record of it, Watson, though I was unable t_ongratulate you upon the result. Victor Lynch, the forger. Venomous lizard o_ila. Remarkable case, that! Vittoria, the circus belle. Vanderbilt and th_eggman. Vipers. Vigor, the Hammersmith wonder. Hullo! Hullo! Good old index.
  • You can't beat it. Listen to this, Watson. Vampirism in Hungary. And again, Vampires in Transylvania." He turned over the pages with eagerness, but afte_ short intent perusal he threw down the great book with a snarl o_isappointment.
  • "Rubbish, Watson, rubbish! What have we to do with walking corpses who ca_nly be held in their grave by stakes driven through their hearts? It's pur_unacy."
  • "But surely," said I, "the vampire was not necessarily a dead man? A livin_erson might have the habit. I have read, for example, of the old sucking th_lood of the young in order to retain their youth."
  • "You are right, Watson. It mentions the legend in one of these references. Bu_re we to give serious attention to such things? This agency stands flat- footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough fo_s. No ghosts need apply. I fear that we cannot take Mr. Robert Ferguson ver_eriously. Possibly this note may be from him and may throw some light upo_hat is worrying him."
  • He took up a second letter which had lain unnoticed upon the table while h_ad been absorbed with the first. This he began to read with a smile o_musement upon his face which gradually faded away into an expression o_ntense interest and concentration. When he had finished he sat for som_ittle time lost in thought with the letter dangling from his fingers.
  • Finally, with a start, he aroused himself from his reverie.
  • "Cheeseman's, Lamberley. Where is Lamberley, Watson?"
  • "lt is in Sussex, South of Horsham."
  • "Not very far, eh? And Cheeseman's?"
  • "I know that country, Holmes. It is full of old houses which are named afte_he men who built them centuries ago. You get Odley's and Harvey's an_arriton's — the folk are forgotten but their names live in their houses."
  • "Precisely," said Holmes coldly. It was one of the peculiarities of his proud, self-contained nature that though he docketed any fresh information ver_uietly and accurately in his brain, he seldom made any acknowledgment to th_iver. "I rather fancy we shall know a good deal more about Cheeseman's, Lamberley, before we are through. The letter is, as I had hoped, from Rober_erguson. By the way, he claims acquaintance with you."
  • "With me!"
  • "You had better read it."
  • He handed the letter across. It was headed with the address quoted.
  • DEAR MR HOLMES [it said]:
  • I have been recommended to you by my lawyers, but
  • indeed the matter is so extraordinarily delicate that it is most
  • difficult to discuss. It concerns a friend for whom I am
  • acting. This gentleman married some five years ago a Peruvian
  • lady the daughter of a Peruvian merchant, whom he had
  • met in connection with the importation of nitrates. The lady
  • was very beautiful, but the fact of her foreign birth and of
  • her alien religion always caused a separation of interests and
  • of feelings between husband and wife, so that after a time
  • his love may have cooled towards her and he may have
  • come to regard their union as a mistake. He felt there were
  • sides of her character which he could never explore or
  • understand. This was the more painful as she was as loving
  • a wife as a man could have — to all appearance absolutely
  • devoted.
  • Now for the point which I will make more plain when we
  • meet. Indeed, this note is merely to give you a general idea
  • of the situation and to ascertain whether you would care to
  • interest yourself in the matter. The lady began to show
  • some curious traits quite alien to her ordinarily sweet and
  • gentle disposition. The gentleman had been married twice
  • and he had one son by the first wife. This boy was now
  • fifteen, a very charming and affectionate youth, though
  • unhappily injured through an accident in childhood. Twice
  • the wife was caught in the act of assaulting this poor lad in
  • the most unprovoked way. Once she struck him with a stick
  • and left a great weal on his arm.
  • This was a small matter, however, compared with her
  • conduct to her own child, a dear boy just under one year of
  • age. On one occasion about a month ago this child had
  • been left by its nurse for a few minutes. A loud cry from the
  • baby, as of pain, called the nurse back. As she ran into the
  • room she saw her employer, the lady, leaning over the baby
  • and apparently biting his neck. There was a small wound in
  • the neck from which a stream of blood had escaped. The
  • nurse was so horrified that she wished to call the husband,
  • but the lady implored her not to do so and actually gave her
  • five pounds as a price for her silence. No explanation was
  • ever given, and for the moment the matter was passed over.
  • It left, however, a terrible impression upon the nurse's
  • mind, and from that time she began to watch her mistress
  • closely and to keep a closer guard upon the baby, whom she
  • tenderly loved. It seemed to her that even as she watched
  • the mother, so the mother watched her, and that every time
  • she was compelled to leave the baby alone the mother was
  • waiting to get at it. Day and night the nurse covered the
  • child, and day and night the silent, watchful mother seemed
  • to be lying in wait as a wolf waits for a lamb. It must read
  • most incredible to you, and yet I beg you to take it seri-
  • ously, for a child's life and a man's sanity may depend
  • upon it.
  • At last there came one dreadful day when the facts could
  • no longer be concealed from the husband. The nurse's nerve
  • had given way; she could stand the strain no longer, and
  • she made a clean breast of it all to the man. To him it
  • seemed as wild a tale as it may now seem to you.He knew
  • his wife to be a loving wife, and, save for the assaults
  • upon her stepson, a loving mother. Why, then, should
  • she wound her own dear little baby? He told the nurse that
  • she was dreaming, that her suspicions were those of a
  • lunatic, and that such libels upon her mistress were not to be
  • tolerated. While they were talking a sudden cry of pain was
  • heard. Nurse and master rushed together to the nursery.
  • Imagine his feelings, Mr. Holmes, as he saw his wife rise
  • from a kneeling position beside the cot and saw blood upon
  • the child's exposed neck and upon the sheet. With a cry of
  • horror, he turned his wife's face to the light and saw blood
  • all round her lips. It was she — she beyond all question —
  • who had drunk the poor baby's blood.
  • So the matter stands. She is now confined to her room.
  • There has been no explanation. The husband is half de-
  • mented. He knows, and I know, little of vampirism beyond
  • the name. We had thought it was some wild tale of foreign
  • parts. And yet here in the very heart of the English Sussex —
  • well, all this can be discussed with you in the morning. Will
  • you see me? Will you use your great powers in aiding a
  • distracted man? If so, kindly wire to Ferguson, Cheeseman's,
  • Lamberley, and I will be at your rooms by ten o'clock.
  • Yours faithfully,
  • ROBERT FERGUSON.
  • P. S. I believe your friend Watson played Rugby for
  • Blackheath when I was three-quarter for Richmond. It is the
  • only personal introduction which I can give.
  • "Of course I remembered him," said I as I laid down the letter. "Big Bo_erguson, the finest three-quarter Richmond ever had. He was always a good- natured chap. It's like him to be so concerned over a friend's case."
  • Holmes looked at me thoughtfully and shook his head.
  • "I never get your limits, Watson," said he. "There are unexplore_ossibilities about you. Take a wire down, like a good fellow. 'Will examin_our case with pleasure.' "
  • "Your case!"
  • "We must not let him think that this agency is a home for the weak-minded. O_ourse it is his case. Send him that wire and let the matter rest til_orning."
  • Promptly at ten o'clock next morning Ferguson strode into our room. I ha_emembered him as a long, slab-sided man with loose limbs and a fine turn o_peed which had carried him round many an opposing back. There is surel_othing in life more painful than to meet the wreck of a fine athlete whom on_as known in his prime. His great frame had fallen in, his flaxen hair wa_canty, and his shoulders were bowed. I fear that I roused correspondin_motions in him.
  • "Hullo, Watson," said he, and his voice was still deep and hearty. "You don'_ook quite the man you did when I threw you over the ropes into the crowd a_he Old Deer Park. I expect I have changed a bit also. But it's this last da_r two that has aged me. I see by your telegram, Mr. Holmes, that it is no us_y pretending to be anyone's deputy." .
  • "It is simpler to deal direct," said Holmes.
  • "Of course it is. But you can imagine how difficult it is when you ar_peaking of the one woman whom you are bound to protect and help. What can _o? How am I to go to the police with such a story? And yet the kiddies hav_ot to be protected. Is it madness, Mr. Holmes? Is it something in the blood?
  • Have you any similar case in your experience? For God's sake, give me som_dvice, for I am at my wit's end."
  • "Very naturally, Mr. Ferguson. Now sit here and pull yourself together an_ive me a few clear answers. I can assure you that I am very far from being a_y wit's end, and that I am confident we shall find some solution. First o_ll, tell me what steps you have taken. Is your wife still near the children?"
  • "We had a dreadful scene. She is a most loving woman, Mr. Holmes. If ever _oman loved a man with all her heart and soul, she loves me. She was cut t_he heart that I should have discovered this horrible, this incredible, secret. She would not even speak. She gave no answer to my reproaches, save t_aze at me with a sort of wild, despairing look in her eyes. Then she rushe_o her room and locked herself in. Since then she has refused to see me. Sh_as a maid who was with her before her marriage, Dolores by name — a frien_ather than a servant. She takes her food to her."
  • "Then the child is in no immediate danger?"
  • "Mrs. Mason, the nurse, has sworn that she will not leave it night or day. _an absolutely trust her. I am more uneasy about poor little Jack, for, as _old you in my note, he has twice been assaulted by her."
  • "But never wounded?"
  • "No, she struck him savagely. It is the more terrible as he is a poor littl_noffensive cripple." Ferguson's gaunt features softened as he spoke of hi_oy. "You would think that the dear lad's condition would soften anyone'_eart. A fall in childhood and a twisted spine, Mr. Holmes. But the dearest, most loving heart within."
  • Holmes had picked up the letter of yesterday and was reading it over. "Wha_ther inmates are there in your house, Mr. Ferguson?"
  • "Two servants who have not been long with us. One stablehand, Michael, wh_leeps in the house. My wife, myself, my boy Jack, baby, Dolores, and Mrs.
  • Mason. That is all."
  • "I gather that you did not know your wife well at the time of your marriage?"
  • "I had only known her a few weeks."
  • "How long had this maid Dolores been with her?"
  • "Some years."
  • "Then your wife's character would really be better known by Dolores than b_ou?"
  • "Yes, you may say so."
  • Holmes made a note.
  • "I fancy," said he, "that I may be of more use at Lamberley than here. It i_minently a case for personal investigation. If the lady remains in her room, our presence could not annoy or inconvenience her. Of course, we would stay a_he inn."
  • Ferguson gave a gesture of relief.
  • "It is what I hoped, Mr. Holmes. There is an excellent train at two fro_ictoria if you could come."
  • "Of course we could come. There is a lull at present. I can give you m_ndivided energies. Watson, of course, comes with us. But there are one or tw_oints upon which I wish to be very sure before I start. This unhappy lady, a_ understand it, has appeared to assault both the children, her own baby an_our little son?"
  • "That is so."
  • "But the assaults take different forms, do they not? She has beaten your son."
  • "Once with a stick and once very savagely with her hands."
  • "Did she give no explanation why she struck him?"
  • "None save that she hated him. Again and again she said so."
  • "Well, that is not unknown among stepmothers. A posthumous jealousy, we wil_ay. Is the lady jealous by nature?"
  • "Yes, she is very jealous — jealous with all the strength of her fier_ropical love."
  • "But the boy — he is fifteen, I understand, and probably very developed i_ind, since his body has been circumscribed in action. Did he give you n_xplanation of these assaults?"
  • "No, he declared there was no reason."
  • "Were they good friends at other times?"
  • "No, there was never any love between them."
  • "Yet you say he is affectionate?"
  • "Never in the world could there be so devoted a son. My life is his life. H_s absorbed in what I say or do."
  • Once again Holmes made a note. For some time he sat lost in thought.
  • "No doubt you and the boy were great comrades before this second marriage. Yo_ere thrown very close together, were you not?"
  • "Very much so."
  • "And the boy, having so affectionate a nature, was devoted, no doubt, to th_emory of his mother?"
  • "Most devoted."
  • "He would certainly seem to be a most interesting lad. There is one othe_oint about these assaults. Were the strange attacks upon the baby and th_ssaults upon yow son at the same period?"
  • "In the first case it was so. It was as if some frenzy had seized her, and sh_ad vented her rage upon both. In the second case it was only Jack wh_uffered. Mrs. Mason had no complaint to make about the baby."
  • "That certainly complicates matters."
  • "I don't quite follow you, Mr. Holmes."
  • "Possibly not. One forms provisional theories and waits for time or fulle_nowledge to explode them. A bad habit, Mr. Ferguson, but human nature i_eak. I fear that your old friend here has given an exaggerated view of m_cientific methods. However, I will only say at the present stage that you_roblem does not appear to me to be insoluble, and that you may expect to fin_s at Victoria at two o'clock."
  • It was evening of a dull, foggy November day when, having left our bags at th_hequers, Lamberley, we drove through the Sussex clay of a long winding lan_nd finally reached the isolated and ancient farmhouse in which Ferguso_welt. It was a large, straggling building, very old in the centre, very ne_t the wings with towering Tudor chimneys and a lichen-spotted, high-pitche_oof of Horsham slabs. The doorsteps were worn into curves, and the ancien_iles which lined the porch were marked with the rebus of a cheese and a ma_fter the original builder. Within, the ceilings were corrugated with heav_aken beams, and the uneven floors sagged into sharp curves. An odour of ag_nd decay pervaded the whole crumbling building.
  • There was one very large central room into which Ferguson led us. Here, in _uge old-fashioned fireplace with an iron screen behind it dated 1670, ther_lazed and spluttered a splendid log fire.
  • The room, as I gazed round, was a most singular mixture of dates and o_laces. The half-panelled walls may well have belonged to the original yeoma_armer of the seventeenth century. They were ornamented, however, on the lowe_art by a line of well-chosen modern water-colours; while above, where yello_laster took the place of oak, there was hung a fine collection of Sout_merican utensils and weapons, which had been brought, no doubt, by th_eruvian lady upstairs. Holmes rose, with that quick curiosity which spran_rom his eager mind, and examined them with some care. He returned with hi_yes full of thought.
  • "Hullo!" he cried. "Hullo!"
  • A spaniel had lain in a basket in the corner. It came slowly forward toward_ts master, walking with difficulty. Its hind legs moved irregularly and it_ail was on the ground. It licked Ferguson's hand.
  • "What is it, Mr. Holmes?"
  • "The dog. What's the matter with it?"
  • "That's what puzzled the vet. A sort of paralysis. Spinal meningitis, h_hought. But it is passing. He'll be all right soon — won't you, Carlo?"
  • A shiver of assent passed through the drooping tail. The dog's mournful eye_assed from one of us to the other. He knew that we were discussing his case.
  • "Did it come on suddenly?"
  • "In a single night."
  • "How long ago?"
  • "It may have been four months ago."
  • "Very remarkable. Very suggestive."
  • "What do you see in it, Mr. Holmes?"
  • "A confirmation of what I had already thought."
  • "For God's sake, what do you think, Mr. Holmes? It may be a mere intellectua_uzzle to you, but it is life and death to me! My wife a would-be murderer — my child in constant danger! Don't play with me, Mr. Holmes. It is to_erribly serious."
  • The big Rugby three-quarter was trembling all over. Holmes put his han_oothingly upon his arm.
  • "I fear that there is pain for you, Mr. Ferguson, whatever the solution ma_e," said he. "I would spare you all I can. I cannot say more for the instant, but before I leave this house I hope I may have something definite."
  • "Please God you may! If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I will go up to m_ife's room and see if there has been any change."
  • He was away some minutes, during which Holmes resumed his examination of th_uriosities upon the wall. When our host returned it was clear from hi_owncast face that he had made no progress. He brought with him a tall, slim, brown-faced girl.
  • "The tea is ready, Dolores," said Ferguson. "See that your mistress ha_verything she can wish."
  • "She verra ill," cried the girl, looking with indignant eyes at her master.
  • "She no ask for food. She verra ill. She need doctor. I frightened stay alon_ith her without doctor."
  • Ferguson looked at me with a question in his eyes.
  • "I should be so glad if I could be of use."
  • "Would your mistress see Dr. Watson?"
  • "I take him. I no ask leave. She needs doctor."
  • "Then I'll come with you at once."
  • I followed the girl, who was quivering with strong emotion, up the staircas_nd down an ancient corridor. At the end was an iron-clamped and massive door.
  • It struck me as I looked at it that if Ferguson tried to force his way to hi_ife he would find it no easy matter. The girl drew a key from her pocket, an_he heavy oaken planks creaked upon their old hinges. I passed in and sh_wiftly followed, fastening the door behind her.
  • On the bed a woman was lying who was clearly in a high fever. She was onl_alf conscious, but as I entered she raised a pair of frightened but beautifu_yes and glared at me in apprehension. Seeing a stranger, she appeared to b_elieved and sank back with a sigh upon the pillow. I stepped up to her with _ew reassuring words, and she lay still while I took her pulse an_emperature. Both were high, and yet my impression was that the condition wa_ather that of mental and nervous excitement than of any actual seizure.
  • "She lie like that one day, two day. I 'fraid she die," said the girl.
  • The woman turned her flushed and handsome face towards me.
  • "Where is my husband?"
  • "He is below and would wish to see you."
  • "I will not see him. I will not see him." Then she seemed to wander off int_elirium. "A fiend! A fiend! Oh, what shall I do with this devil?"
  • "Can I help you in any way?"
  • "No. No one can help. It is finished. All is destroyed. Do what I will, all i_estroyed."
  • The woman must have some strange delusion. I could not see honest Bob Ferguso_n the character of fiend or devil.
  • "Madame," I said, "your husband loves you dearly. He is deeply grieved at thi_appening."
  • Again she turned on me those glorious eyes.
  • "He loves me. Yes. But do I not love him? Do I not love him even to sacrific_yself rather than break his dear heart? That is how I love him. And yet h_ould think of me — he could speak of me so."
  • "He is full of grief, but he cannot understand."
  • "No, he cannot understand. But he should trust."
  • "Will you not see him?" I suggested.
  • "No, no, I cannot forget those terrible words nor the look upon his face. _ill not see him. Go now. You can do nothing for me. Tell him only one thing.
  • I want my child. I have a right to my child. That is the only message I ca_end him." She turned her face to the wall and would say no more.
  • I returned to the room downstairs, where Ferguson and Holmes still sat by th_ire. Ferguson listened moodily to my account of the interview.
  • "How can I send her the child?" he said. "How do I know what strange impuls_ight come upon her? How can I ever forget how she rose from beside it wit_ts blood upon her lips?" He shuddered at the recollection. "The child is saf_ith Mrs. Mason, and there he must remain."
  • A smart maid, the only modern thing which we had seen in the house, ha_rought in some tea. As she was serving it the door opened and a youth entere_he room. He was a remarkable lad, pale-faced and fair-haired, with excitabl_ight blue eyes which blazed into a sudden flame of emotion and joy as the_ested upon his father. He rushed forward and threw his arms round his nec_ith the abandon of a loving girl.
  • "Oh, daddy," he cried, "I did not know that you were due yet. I should hav_een here to meet you. Oh, I am so glad to see you!"
  • Ferguson gently disengaged himself from the embrace with some little show o_mbarrassment.
  • "Dear old chap," said he, patting the flaxen head with a very tender hand. "_ame early because my friends, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, have been persuade_o come down and spend an evening with us."
  • "Is that Mr. Holmes, the detective?"
  • "Yes."
  • The youth looked at us with a very penetrating and, as it seemed to me, unfriendly gaze.
  • "What about your other child, Mr. Ferguson?" asked Holmes. "Might we make th_cquaintance of the baby?"
  • "Ask Mrs. Mason to bring baby down," said Ferguson. The boy went off with _urious, shambling gait which told my surgical eyes that he was suffering fro_ weak spine. Presently he returned, and behind him came a tall, gaunt woma_earing in her arms a very beautiful child, dark-eyed, golden-haired, _onderful mixture of the Saxon and the Latin. Ferguson was evidently devote_o it, for he took it into his arms and fondled it most tenderly.
  • "Fancy anyone having the heart to hurt him," he muttered as he glanced down a_he small, angry red pucker upon the cherub throat.
  • It was at this moment that I chanced to glance at Holmes and saw a mos_ingular intentness in his expression. His face was as set as if it had bee_arved out of old ivory, and his eyes, which had glanced for a moment a_ather and child, were now fixed with eager curiosity upon something at th_ther side of the room. Following his gaze I could only guess that he wa_ooking out through the window at the melancholy, dripping garden. It is tru_hat a shutter had half closed outside and obstructed the view, but none th_ess it was certainly at the window that Holmes was fixing his concentrate_ttention. Then he smiled, and his eyes came back to the baby. On its chubb_eck there was this small puckered mark. Without speaking, Holmes examined i_ith care. Finally he shook one of the dimpled fists which waved in front o_im.
  • "Good-bye, little man. You have made a strange start in life. Nurse, I shoul_ish to have a word with you in private."
  • He took her aside and spoke earnestly for a few minutes. I only heard the las_ords, which were: "Your anxiety will soon, I hope, be set at rest." Th_oman, who seemed to be a sour, silent kind of creature, withdrew with th_hild.
  • "What is Mrs. Mason like?" asked Holmes.
  • "Not very prepossessing externally, as you can see, but a heart of gold, an_evoted to the child."
  • "Do you like her, Jack?" Holmes turned suddenly upon the boy. His expressiv_obile face shadowed over, and he shook his head.
  • "Jacky has very strong likes and dislikes," said Ferguson, putting his ar_ound the boy. "Luckily I am one of his likes."
  • The boy cooed and nestled his head upon his father's breast. Ferguson gentl_isengaged him.
  • "Run away, little Jacky," said he, and he watched his son with loving eye_ntil he disappeared. "Now, Mr. Holmes," he continued when the boy was gone,
  • "I really feel that I have brought you on a fool's errand, for what can yo_ossibly do save give me your sympathy? It must be an exceedingly delicate an_omplex affair from your point of view."
  • "It is certainly delicate," said my friend with an amused smile, "but I hav_ot been struck up to now with its complexity. It has been a case fo_ntellectual deduction, but when this original intellectual deduction i_onfirmed point by point by quite a number of independent incidents, then th_ubjective becomes objective and we can say confidently that we have reache_ur goal. I had, in fact, reached it before we left Baker Street, and the res_as merely been observation and confirmation."
  • Ferguson put his big hand to his furrowed forehead.
  • "For heaven's sake, Holmes," he said hoarsely; "if you can see the truth i_his matter, do not keep me in suspense. How do I stand? What shall I do? _are nothing as to how you have found your facts so long as you have reall_ot them."
  • "Certainly I owe you an explanation, and you shall have it. But you wil_ermit me to handle the matter in my own way? Is the lady capable of seein_s, Watson?"
  • "She is ill, but she is quite rational."
  • "Very good. It is only in her presence that we can clear the matter up. Let u_o up to her."
  • "She will not see me," cried Ferguson.
  • "Oh, yes, she will," said Holmes. He scribbled a few lines upon a sheet o_aper."You at least have the entree, Watson. Will you have the goodness t_ive the lady this note?"
  • I ascended again and handed the note to Dolores, who cautiously opened th_oor. A minute later I heard a cry from within, a cry in which joy an_urprise seemed to be blended. Dolores looked out.
  • "She will see them. She will leesten," said she.
  • At my summons Ferguson and Holmes came up. As we entered the room Ferguso_ook a step or two towards his wife, who had raised herself in the bed, bu_he held out her hand to repulse him. He sank into an armchair, while Holme_eated himself beside him, after bowing to the lady, who looked at him wit_ide-eyed amazement.
  • "I think we can dispense with Dolores," said Holmes. "Oh, very well, madame, if you would rather she stayed I can see no objection. Now, Mr. Ferguson, I a_ busy man wlth many calls, and my methods have to be short and direct. Th_wiftest surgery is the least painful. Let me first say what will ease you_ind. Your wife is a very good, a very loving, and a very ill-used woman."
  • Ferguson sat up with a cry of joy.
  • "Prove that, Mr. Holmes, and I am your debtor forever."
  • "I will do so, but in doing so I must wound you deeply in another direction."
  • "I care nothing so long as you clear my wife. Everything on earth i_nsignificant compared to that."
  • "Let me tell you, then, the train of reasoning which passed through my mind i_aker Street. The idea of a vampire was to me absurd. Such things do no_appen in criminal practice in England. And yet your observation was precise.
  • You had seen the lady rise from beside the child's cot with the blood upon he_ips."
  • "I did."
  • "Did it not occur to you that a bleeding wound may be sucked for some othe_urpose than to draw the blood from it? Was there not a queen in Englis_istory who sucked such a wound to draw poison from it?"
  • "Poison!"
  • "A South American household. My instinct felt the presence of those weapon_pon the wall before my eyes ever saw them. It might have been other poison, but that was what occurred to me. When I saw that little empty quiver besid_he small birdbow, it was just what I expected to see. If the child wer_ricked with one of those arrows dipped in curare or some other devilish drug, it would mean death if the venom were not sucked out.
  • "And the dog! If one were to use such a poison, would one not try it first i_rder to see that it had not lost its power? I did not foresee the dog, but a_east I understand him and he fitted into my reconstruction.
  • "Now do you understand? Your wife feared such an attack. She saw it made an_aved the child's life, and yet she shrank from telling you all the truth, fo_he knew how you loved the boy and feared lest it break your heart."
  • "Jacky!"
  • "I watched him as you fondled the child just now. His face was clearl_eflected in the glass of the window where the shutter formed a background. _aw such jealousy, such cruel hatred, as I have seldom seen in a human face."
  • "My Jacky!"
  • "You have to face it, Mr. Ferguson. It is the more painful because it is _istorted love, a maniacal exaggerated love for you, and possibly for his dea_other, which has prompted his action. His very soul is consumed with hatre_or this splendid child, whose health and beauty are a contrast to his ow_eakness."
  • "Good God! It is incredible!"
  • "Have I spoken the truth, madame?"
  • The lady was sobbing, with her face buried in the pillows. Now she turned t_er husband.
  • "How could I tell you, Bob? I felt the blow it would be to you. It was bette_hat I should wait and that it should come from some other lips than mine.
  • When this gentleman, who seems to have powers of magic, wrote that he kne_ll, I was glad."
  • "I think a year at sea would be my prescription for Master Jacky," sai_olmes, rising from his chair. "Only one thing is still clouded, madame. W_an quite understand your attacks upon Master Jacky. There is a limit to _other's patience. But how did you dare to leave the child these last tw_ays?"
  • "I had told Mrs. Mason. She knew."
  • "Exactly. So I imagined."
  • Ferguson was standing by the bed, choking, his hands outstretched an_uivering.
  • "This, I fancy, is the time for our exit, Watson," said Holmes in a whisper.
  • "If you will take one elbow of the too faithful Dolores, I will take th_ther. There, now," he added as he closed the door behind him, "I think we ma_eave them to settle the rest among themselves."
  • I have only one further note of this case. It is the letter which Holmes wrot_n final answer to that with which the narrative begins. It ran thus:
  • BAKER STREET,
  • Nov. 21st.
  • Re Vampires
  • SIR:
  • Referring to your letter of the 19th, I beg to state that I
  • have looked into the inquiry of your client, Mr. Robert
  • Ferguson, of Ferguson and Muirhead, tea brokers, of Minc-
  • ing Lane, and that the matter has been brought to a satisfac-
  • tory conclusion. With thanks for your recommendation, I
  • am, sir,
  • Faithfully yours,
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES.