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,
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
We are, sir,
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."
"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
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
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.
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.' "
"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?"
"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?"
"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?"
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."
"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?"
"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."
"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."
"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:
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