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Chapter 9 The Adventure of the Three Students

  • It was in the year '95 that a combination of events, into which I need no_nter, caused Mr. Sherlock Holmes and myself to spend some weeks in one of ou_reat University towns, and it was during this time that the small bu_nstructive adventure which I am about to relate befell us. It will be obviou_hat any details which would help the reader to exactly identify the colleg_r the criminal would be injudicious and offensive. So painful a scandal ma_ell be allowed to die out. With due discretion the incident itself may, however, be described, since it serves to illustrate some of those qualitie_or which my friend was remarkable. I will endeavour in my statement to avoi_uch terms as would serve to limit the events to any particular place, or giv_ clue as to the people concerned.
  • We were residing at the time in furnished lodgings close to a library wher_herlock Holmes was pursuing some laborious researches in early Englis_harters — researches which led to results so striking that they may be th_ubject of one of my future narratives. Here it was that one evening w_eceived a visit from an acquaintance, Mr. Hilton Soames, tutor and lecture_t the College of St. Luke's. Mr. Soames was a tall, spare man, of a nervou_nd excitable temperament. I had always known him to be restless in hi_anner, but on this particular occasion he was in such a state o_ncontrollable agitation that it was clear something very unusual ha_ccurred.
  • "I trust, Mr. Holmes, that you can spare me a few hours of your valuable time.
  • We have had a very painful incident at St. Luke's, and really, but for th_appy chance of your being in the town, I should have been at a loss what t_o."
  • "I am very busy just now, and I desire no distractions," my friend answered.
  • "I should much prefer that you called in the aid of the police."
  • "No, no, my dear sir; such a course is utterly impossible. When once the la_s evoked it cannot be stayed again, and this is just one of those case_here, for the credit of the college, it is most essential to avoid scandal.
  • Your discretion is as well known as your powers, and you are the one man i_he world who can help me. I beg you, Mr. Holmes, to do what you can."
  • My friend's temper had not improved since he had been deprived of th_ongenial surroundings of Baker Street. Without his scrap-books, hi_hemicals, and his homely untidiness, he was an uncomfortable man. He shrugge_is shoulders in ungracious acquiescence, while our visitor in hurried word_nd with much excitable gesticulation poured forth his story.
  • "I must explain to you, Mr. Holmes, that to-morrow is the first day of th_xamination for the Fortescue Scholarship. I am one of the examiners. M_ubject is Greek, and the first of the papers consists of a large passage o_reek translation which the candidate has not seen. This passage is printed o_he examination paper, and it would naturally be an immense advantage if th_andidate could prepare it in advance. For this reason great care is taken t_eep the paper secret.
  • "To-day about three o'clock the proofs of this paper arrived from th_rinters. The exercise consists of half a chapter of Thucydides. I had to rea_t over carefully, as the text must be absolutely correct. At four-thirty m_ask was not yet completed. I had, however, promised to take tea in a friend'_ooms, so I left the proof upon my desk. I was absent rather more than a_our.
  • "You are aware, Mr. Holmes, that our college doors are double — a green baiz_ne within and a heavy oak one without. As I approached my outer door I wa_mazed to see a key in it. For an instant I imagined that I had left my ow_here, but on feeling in my pocket I found that it was all right. The onl_uplicate which existed, so far as I knew, was that which belonged to m_ervant, Bannister, a man who has looked after my room for ten years, an_hose honesty is absolutely above suspicion. I found that the key was indee_is, that he had entered my room to know if I wanted tea, and that he had ver_arelessly left the key in the door when he came out. His visit to my roo_ust have been within a very few minutes of my leaving it. His forgetfulnes_bout the key would have mattered little upon any other occasion, but on thi_ne day it has produced the most deplorable consequences.
  • "The moment I looked at my table I was aware that someone had rummaged amon_y papers. The proof was in three long slips. I had left them all together.
  • Now, I found that one of them was lying on the floor, one was on the sid_able near the window, and the third was where I had left it."
  • Holmes stirred for the first time.
  • "The first page on the floor, the second in the window, the third where yo_eft it," said he.
  • "Exactly, Mr. Holmes. You amaze me. How could you possibly know that?"
  • "Pray continue your very interesting statement."
  • "For an instant I imagined that Bannister had taken the unpardonable libert_f examining my papers. He denied it, however, with the utmost earnestness, and I am convinced that he was speaking the truth. The alternative was tha_omeone passing had observed the key in the door, had known that I was out, and had entered to look at the papers. A large sum of money is at stake, fo_he scholarship is a very valuable one, and an unscrupulous man might ver_ell run a risk in order to gain an advantage over his fellows.
  • "Bannister was very much upset by the incident. He had nearly fainted when w_ound that the papers had undoubtedly been tampered with. I gave him a littl_randy and left him collapsed in a chair while I made a most carefu_xamination of the room. I soon saw that the intruder had left other traces o_is presence besides the rumpled papers. On the table in the window wer_everal shreds from a pencil which had been sharpened. A broken tip of lea_as lying there also. Evidently the rascal had copied the paper in a grea_urry, had broken his pencil, and had been compelled to put a fresh point t_t."
  • "Excellent!" said Holmes, who was recovering his good-humour as his attentio_ecame more engrossed by the case. "Fortune has been your friend."
  • "This was not all. I have a new writing-table with a fine surface of re_eather. I am prepared to swear, and so is Bannister, that it was smooth an_nstained. Now I found a clean cut in it about three inches long — not a mer_cratch, but a positive cut. Not only this, but on the table I found a smal_all of black dough, or clay, with specks of something which looks lik_awdust in it. I am convinced that these marks were left by the man who rifle_he papers. There were no footmarks and no other evidence as to his identity.
  • I was at my wits' ends, when suddenly the happy thought occurred to me tha_ou were in the town, and I came straight round to put the matter into you_ands. Do help me, Mr. Holmes! You see my dilemma. Either I must find the ma_r else the examination must be postponed until fresh papers are prepared, an_ince this cannot be done without explanation there will ensue a hideou_candal, which will throw a cloud not only on the college, but on th_niversity. Above all things I desire to settle the matter quietly an_iscreetly."
  • "I shall be happy to look into it and to give you such advice as I can," sai_olmes, rising and putting on his overcoat. "The case is not entirely devoi_f interest. Had anyone visited you in your room after the papers came t_ou?"
  • "Yes; young Daulat Ras, an Indian student who lives on the same stair, came i_o ask me some particulars about the examination."
  • "For which he was entered?"
  • "Yes."
  • "And the papers were on your table?"
  • "To the best of my belief they were rolled up."
  • "But might be recognised as proofs?"
  • "Possibly."
  • "No one else in your room?"
  • "No."
  • "Did anyone know that these proofs would be there?"
  • "No one save the printer."
  • "Did this man Bannister know?"
  • "No, certainly not. No one knew."
  • "Where is Bannister now?"
  • "He was very ill, poor fellow. I left him collapsed in the chair. I was i_uch a hurry to come to you."
  • "You left your door open?"
  • "I locked up the papers first."
  • "Then it amounts to this, Mr. Soames, that unless the Indian studen_ecognised the roll as being proofs, the man who tampered with them came upo_hem accidentally without knowing that they were there."
  • "So it seems to me."
  • Holmes gave an enigmatic smile.
  • "Well," said he, "let us go round. Not one of your cases, Watson — mental, no_hysical. All right; come if you want to. Now, Mr. Soames — at your disposal!"
  • The sitting-room of our client opened by a long, low, latticed window on t_he ancient lichen-tinted court of the old college. A Gothic arched door le_o a worn stone staircase. On the ground floor was the tutor's room. Abov_ere three students, one on each story. It was already twilight when w_eached the scene of our problem. Holmes halted and looked earnestly at th_indow. Then he approached it, and, standing on tiptoe with his neck craned, he looked into the room.
  • "He must have entered through the door. There is no opening except the on_ane," said our learned guide.
  • "Dear me!" said Holmes, and he smiled in a singular way as he glanced at ou_ompanion. "Well, if there is nothing to be learned here we had best g_nside."
  • The lecturer unlocked the outer door and ushered us into his room. We stood a_he entrance while Holmes made an examination of the carpet.
  • "I am afraid there are no signs here," said he. "One could hardly hope for an_pon so dry a day. Your servant seems to have quite recovered. You left him i_ chair, you say; which chair?"
  • "By the window there."
  • "I see. Near this little table. You can come in now. I have finished with th_arpet. Let us take the little table first. Of course, what has happened i_ery clear. The man entered and took the papers, sheet by sheet, from th_entral table. He carried them over to the window table, because from there h_ould see if you came across the courtyard, and so could effect an escape."
  • "As a matter of fact he could not," said Soames, "for I entered by the sid_oor."
  • "Ah, that's good! Well, anyhow, that was in his mind. Let me see the thre_trips. No finger impressions — no! Well, he carried over this one first an_e copied it. How long would it take him to do that, using every possibl_ontraction? A quarter of an hour, not less. Then he tossed it down and seize_he next. He was in the midst of that when your return caused him to make _ery hurried retreat — VERY hurried, since he had not time to replace th_apers which would tell you that he had been there. You were not aware of an_urrying feet on the stair as you entered the outer door?"
  • "No, I can't say I was."
  • "Well, he wrote so furiously that he broke his pencil, and had, as yo_bserve, to sharpen it again. This is of interest, Watson. The pencil was no_n ordinary one. It was above the usual size, with a soft lead; the oute_olour was dark blue, the maker's name was printed in silver lettering, an_he piece remaining is only about an inch and a half long. Look for such _encil, Mr. Soames, and you have got your man. When I add that he possesses _arge and very blunt knife, you have an additional aid."
  • Mr. Soames was somewhat overwhelmed by this flood of information. "I ca_ollow the other points," said he, "but really, in this matter of the length ——"
  • Holmes held out a small chip with the letters NN and a space of clear woo_fter them.
  • "You see?"
  • "No, I fear that even now ——"
  • "Watson, I have always done you an injustice. There are others. What coul_his NN be? It is at the end of a word. You are aware that Johann Faber is th_ost common maker's name. Is it not clear that there is just as much of th_encil left as usually follows the Johann?" He held the small table sideway_o the electric light. "I was hoping that if the paper on which he wrote wa_hin some trace of it might come through upon this polished surface. No, I se_othing. I don't think there is anything more to be learned here. Now for th_entral table. This small pellet is, I presume, the black, doughy mass yo_poke of. Roughly pyramidal in shape and hollowed out, I perceive. As you say, there appear to be grains of sawdust in it. Dear me, this is very interesting.
  • And the cut — a positive tear, I see. It began with a thin scratch and ende_n a jagged hole. I am much indebted to you for directing my attention to thi_ase, Mr. Soames. Where does that door lead to?"
  • "To my bedroom."
  • "Have you been in it since your adventure?"
  • "No; I came straight away for you."
  • "I should like to have a glance round. What a charming, old-fashioned room!
  • Perhaps you will kindly wait a minute until I have examined the floor. No, _ee nothing. What about this curtain? You hang your clothes behind it. I_nyone were forced to conceal himself in this room he must do it there, sinc_he bed is too low and the wardrobe too shallow. No one there, I suppose?"
  • As Holmes drew the curtain I was aware, from some little rigidity an_lertness of his attitude, that he was prepared for an emergency. As a matte_f fact the drawn curtain disclosed nothing but three or four suits of clothe_anging from a line of pegs. Holmes turned away and stooped suddenly to th_loor.
  • "Halloa! What's this?" said he.
  • It was a small pyramid of black, putty-like stuff, exactly like the one upo_he table of the study. Holmes held it out on his open palm in the glare o_he electric light.
  • "Your visitor seems to have left traces in your bedroom as well as in you_itting-room, Mr. Soames."
  • "What could he have wanted there?"
  • "I think it is clear enough. You came back by an unexpected way, and so he ha_o warning until you were at the very door. What could he do? He caught u_verything which would betray him and he rushed into your bedroom to concea_imself."
  • "Good gracious, Mr. Holmes, do you mean to tell me that all the time I wa_alking to Bannister in this room we had the man prisoner if we had only know_t?"
  • "So I read it."
  • "Surely there is another alternative, Mr. Holmes. I don't know whether yo_bserved my bedroom window?"
  • "Lattice-paned, lead framework, three separate windows, one swinging on hing_nd large enough to admit a man."
  • "Exactly. And it looks out on an angle of the courtyard so as to be partl_nvisible. The man might have effected his entrance there, left traces as h_assed through the bedroom, and, finally, finding the door open have escape_hat way."
  • Holmes shook his head impatiently.
  • "Let us be practical," said he. "I understand you to say that there are thre_tudents who use this stair and are in the habit of passing your door?"
  • "Yes, there are."
  • "And they are all in for this examination?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Have you any reason to suspect any one of them more than the others?"
  • Soames hesitated.
  • "It is a very delicate question," said he. "One hardly likes to thro_uspicion where there are no proofs."
  • "Let us hear the suspicions. I will look after the proofs."
  • "I will tell you, then, in a few words the character of the three men wh_nhabit these rooms. The lower of the three is Gilchrist, a fine scholar an_thlete; plays in the Rugby team and the cricket team for the college, and go_is Blue for the hurdles and the long jump. He is a fine, manly fellow. Hi_ather was the notorious Sir Jabez Gilchrist, who ruined himself on the turf.
  • My scholar has been left very poor, but he is hard-working and industrious. H_ill do well.
  • "The second floor is inhabited by Daulat Ras, the Indian. He is a quiet, inscrutable fellow, as most of those Indians are. He is well up in his work, though his Greek is his weak subject. He is steady and methodical.
  • "The top floor belongs to Miles McLaren. He is a brilliant fellow when h_hooses to work — one of the brightest intellects of the University, but he i_ayward, dissipated, and unprincipled. He was nearly expelled over a car_candal in his first year. He has been idling all this term, and he must loo_orward with dread to the examination."
  • "Then it is he whom you suspect?"
  • "I dare not go so far as that. But of the three he is perhaps the leas_nlikely."
  • "Exactly. Now, Mr. Soames, let us have a look at your servant, Bannister."
  • He was a little, white-faced, clean-shaven, grizzly-haired fellow of fifty. H_as still suffering from this sudden disturbance of the quiet routine of hi_ife. His plump face was twitching with his nervousness, and his fingers coul_ot keep still.
  • "We are investigating this unhappy business, Bannister," said his master.
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "I understand," said Holmes, "that you left your key in the door?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "Was it not very extraordinary that you should do this on the very day whe_here were these papers inside?"
  • "It was most unfortunate, sir. But I have occasionally done the same thing a_ther times."
  • "When did you enter the room?"
  • "It was about half-past four. That is Mr. Soames's tea time."
  • "How long did you stay?"
  • "When I saw that he was absent I withdrew at once."
  • "Did you look at these papers on the table?"
  • "No, sir; certainly not."
  • "How came you to leave the key in the door?"
  • "I had the tea-tray in my hand. I thought I would come back for the key. The_ forgot."
  • "Has the outer door a spring lock?"
  • "No, sir."
  • "Then it was open all the time?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "Anyone in the room could get out?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "When Mr. Soames returned and called for you, you were very much disturbed?"
  • "Yes, sir. Such a thing has never happened during the many years that I hav_een here. I nearly fainted, sir."
  • "So I understand. Where were you when you began to feel bad?"
  • "Where was I, sir? Why, here, near the door."
  • "That is singular, because you sat down in that chair over yonder near th_orner. Why did you pass these other chairs?"
  • "I don't know, sir. It didn't matter to me where I sat."
  • "I really don't think he knew much about it, Mr. Holmes. He was looking ver_ad — quite ghastly."
  • "You stayed here when your master left?"
  • "Only for a minute or so. Then I locked the door and went to my room."
  • "Whom do you suspect?"
  • "Oh, I would not venture to say, sir. I don't believe there is any gentlema_n this University who is capable of profiting by such an action. No, sir, I'll not believe it."
  • "Thank you; that will do," said Holmes. "Oh, one more word. You have no_entioned to any of the three gentlemen whom you attend that anything i_miss?"
  • "No, sir; not a word."
  • "You haven't seen any of them?"
  • "No, sir."
  • "Very good. Now, Mr. Soames, we will take a walk in the quadrangle, if yo_lease."
  • Three yellow squares of light shone above us in the gathering gloom."
  • "Your three birds are all in their nests," said Holmes, looking up. "Halloa!
  • What's that? One of them seems restless enough."
  • It was the Indian, whose dark silhouette appeared suddenly upon his blind. H_as pacing swiftly up and down his room.
  • "I should like to have a peep at each of them," said Holmes. "Is it possible?"
  • "No difficulty in the world," Soames answered. "This set of rooms is quite th_ldest in the college, and it is not unusual for visitors to go over them.
  • Come along, and I will personally conduct you."
  • "No names, please!" said Holmes, as we knocked at Gilchrist's door. A tall, flaxen-haired, slim young fellow opened it, and made us welcome when h_nderstood our errand. There were some really curious pieces of mediaeva_omestic architecture within. Holmes was so charmed with one of them that h_nsisted on drawing it on his note-book, broke his pencil, had to borrow on_rom our host, and finally borrowed a knife to sharpen his own. The sam_urious accident happened to him in the rooms of the Indian — a silent, little, hook-nosed fellow, who eyed us askance and was obviously glad whe_olmes's architectural studies had come to an end. I could not see that i_ither case Holmes had come upon the clue for which he was searching. Only a_he third did our visit prove abortive. The outer door would not open to ou_nock, and nothing more substantial than a torrent of bad language came fro_ehind it. "I don't care who you are. You can go to blazes!" roared the angr_oice. "To-morrow's the exam, and I won't be drawn by anyone."
  • "A rude fellow," said our guide, flushing with anger as we withdrew down th_tair. "Of course, he did not realise that it was I who was knocking, but non_he less his conduct was very uncourteous, and, indeed, under th_ircumstances rather suspicious."
  • Holmes's response was a curious one.
  • "Can you tell me his exact height?" he asked.
  • "Really, Mr. Holmes, I cannot undertake to say. He is taller than the Indian, not so tall as Gilchrist. I suppose five foot six would be about it."
  • "That is very important," said Holmes. "And now, Mr. Soames, I wish you good- night."
  • Our guide cried aloud in his astonishment and dismay. "Good gracious, Mr.
  • Holmes, you are surely not going to leave me in this abrupt fashion! You don'_eem to realise the position. To-morrow is the examination. I must take som_efinite action to-night. I cannot allow the examination to be held if one o_he papers has been tampered with. The situation must be faced."
  • "You must leave it as it is. I shall drop round early to-morrow morning an_hat the matter over. It is possible that I may be in a position then t_ndicate some course of action. Meanwhile you change nothing — nothing a_ll."
  • "Very good, Mr. Holmes."
  • "You can be perfectly easy in your mind. We shall certainly find some way ou_f your difficulties. I will take the black clay with me, also the penci_uttings. Good-bye."
  • When we were out in the darkness of the quadrangle we again looked up at th_indows. The Indian still paced his room. The others were invisible.
  • "Well, Watson, what do you think of it?" Holmes asked, as we came out into th_ain street. "Quite a little parlour game — sort of three-card trick, is i_ot? There are your three men. It must be one of them. You take your choice.
  • Which is yours?"
  • "The foul-mouthed fellow at the top. He is the one with the worst record. An_et that Indian was a sly fellow also. Why should he be pacing his room al_he time?"
  • "There is nothing in that. Many men do it when they are trying to lear_nything by heart."
  • "He looked at us in a queer way."
  • "So would you if a flock of strangers came in on you when you were preparin_or an examination next day, and every moment was of value. No, I see nothin_n that. Pencils, too, and knives — all was satisfactory. But that fellow DOE_uzzle me."
  • "Who?"
  • "Why, Bannister, the servant. What's his game in the matter?"
  • "He impressed me as being a perfectly honest man."
  • "So he did me. That's the puzzling part. Why should a perfectly honest man — well, well, here's a large stationer's. We shall begin our researches here."
  • There were only four stationers of any consequence in the town, and at eac_olmes produced his pencil chips and bid high for a duplicate. All were agree_hat one could be ordered, but that it was not a usual size of pencil and tha_t was seldom kept in stock. My friend did not appear to be depressed by hi_ailure, but shrugged his shoulders in half-humorous resignation.
  • "No good, my dear Watson. This, the best and only final clue, has run t_othing. But, indeed, I have little doubt that we can build up a sufficien_ase without it. By Jove! my dear fellow, it is nearly nine, and the landlad_abbled of green peas at seven-thirty. What with your eternal tobacco, Watson, and your irregularity at meals, I expect that you will get notice to quit an_hat I shall share your downfall — not, however, before we have solved th_roblem of the nervous tutor, the careless servant, and the three enterprisin_tudents."
  • Holmes made no further allusion to the matter that day, though he sat lost i_hought for a long time after our belated dinner. At eight in the morning h_ame into my room just as I finished my toilet.
  • "Well, Watson," said he, "it is time we went down to St. Luke's. Can you d_ithout breakfast?"
  • "Certainly."
  • "Soames will be in a dreadful fidget until we are able to tell him somethin_ositive."
  • "Have you anything positive to tell him?"
  • "I think so."
  • "You have formed a conclusion?"
  • "Yes, my dear Watson; I have solved the mystery."
  • "But what fresh evidence could you have got?"
  • "Aha! It is not for nothing that I have turned myself out of bed at th_ntimely hour of six. I have put in two hours' hard work and covered at leas_ive miles, with something to show for it. Look at that!"
  • He held out his hand. On the palm were three little pyramids of black, dough_lay.
  • "Why, Holmes, you had only two yesterday!"
  • "And one more this morning. It is a fair argument that wherever No. 3 cam_rom is also the source of Nos. 1 and 2. Eh, Watson? Well, come along and pu_riend Soames out of his pain."
  • The unfortunate tutor was certainly in a state of pitiable agitation when w_ound him in his chambers. In a few hours the examination would commence, an_e was still in the dilemma between making the facts public and allowing th_ulprit to compete for the valuable scholarship. He could hardly stand still, so great was his mental agitation, and he ran towards Holmes with two eage_ands outstretched.
  • "Thank Heaven that you have come! I feared that you had given it up i_espair. What am I to do? Shall the examination proceed?"
  • "Yes; let it proceed by all means."
  • "But this rascal ——?"
  • "He shall not compete."
  • "You know him?"
  • "I think so. If this matter is not to become public we must give ourselve_ertain powers, and resolve ourselves into a small private court-martial. Yo_here, if you please, Soames! Watson, you here! I'll take the arm-chair in th_iddle. I think that we are now sufficiently imposing to strike terror into _uilty breast. Kindly ring the bell!"
  • Bannister entered, and shrunk back in evident surprise and fear at ou_udicial appearance.
  • "You will kindly close the door," said Holmes. "Now, Bannister, will yo_lease tell us the truth about yesterday's incident?"
  • The man turned white to the roots of his hair.
  • "I have told you everything, sir."
  • "Nothing to add?"
  • "Nothing at all, sir."
  • "Well, then, I must make some suggestions to you. When you sat down on tha_hair yesterday, did you do so in order to conceal some object which woul_ave shown who had been in the room?"
  • Bannister's face was ghastly.
  • "No, sir; certainly not."
  • "It is only a suggestion," said Holmes, suavely. "I frankly admit that I a_nable to prove it. But it seems probable enough, since the moment that Mr.
  • Soames's back was turned you released the man who was hiding in that bedroom."
  • Bannister licked his dry lips.
  • "There was no man, sir."
  • "Ah, that's a pity, Bannister. Up to now you may have spoken the truth, bu_ow I know that you have lied."
  • The man's face set in sullen defiance.
  • "There was no man, sir."
  • "Come, come, Bannister!"
  • "No, sir; there was no one."
  • "In that case you can give us no further information. Would you please remai_n the room? Stand over there near the bedroom door. Now, Soames, I am goin_o ask you to have the great kindness to go up to the room of young Gilchrist, and to ask him to step down into yours."
  • An instant later the tutor returned, bringing with him the student. He was _ine figure of a man, tall, lithe, and agile, with a springy step and _leasant, open face. His troubled blue eyes glanced at each of us, and finall_ested with an expression of blank dismay upon Bannister in the farthe_orner.
  • "Just close the door," said Holmes. "Now, Mr. Gilchrist, we are all quit_lone here, and no one need ever know one word of what passes between us. W_an be perfectly frank with each other. We want to know, Mr. Gilchrist, ho_ou, an honourable man, ever came to commit such an action as that o_esterday?"
  • The unfortunate young man staggered back and cast a look full of horror an_eproach at Bannister.
  • "No, no, Mr. Gilchrist, sir; I never said a word — never one word!" cried th_ervant.
  • "No, but you have now," said Holmes. "Now, sir, you must see that afte_annister's words your position is hopeless, and that your only chance lies i_ frank confession."
  • For a moment Gilchrist, with upraised hand, tried to control his writhin_eatures. The next he had thrown himself on his knees beside the table and, burying his face in his hands, he had burst into a storm of passionat_obbing.
  • "Come, come," said Holmes, kindly; "it is human to err, and at least no on_an accuse you of being a callous criminal. Perhaps it would be easier for yo_f I were to tell Mr. Soames what occurred, and you can check me where I a_rong. Shall I do so? Well, well, don't trouble to answer. Listen, and se_hat I do you no injustice.
  • "From the moment, Mr. Soames, that you said to me that no one, not eve_annister, could have told that the papers were in your room, the case bega_o take a definite shape in my mind. The printer one could, of course, dismiss. He could examine the papers in his own office. The Indian I als_hought nothing of. If the proofs were in a roll he could not possibly kno_hat they were. On the other hand, it seemed an unthinkable coincidence that _an should dare to enter the room, and that by chance on that very day th_apers were on the table. I dismissed that. The man who entered knew that th_apers were there. How did he know?
  • "When I approached your room I examined the window. You amused me by supposin_hat I was contemplating the possibility of someone having in broad daylight, under the eyes of all these opposite rooms, forced himself through it. Such a_dea was absurd. I was measuring how tall a man would need to be in order t_ee as he passed what papers were on the central table. I am six feet high, and I could do it with an effort. No one less than that would have a chance.
  • Already you see I had reason to think that if one of your three students was _an of unusual height he was the most worth watching of the three.
  • "I entered and I took you into my confidence as to the suggestions of the sid_able. Of the centre table I could make nothing, until in your description o_ilchrist you mentioned that he was a long-distance jumper. Then the whol_hing came to me in an instant, and I only needed certain corroborativ_roofs, which I speedily obtained.
  • "What happened was this. This young fellow had employed his afternoon at th_thletic grounds, where he had been practising the jump. He returned carryin_is jumping shoes, which are provided, as you are aware, with several shar_pikes. As he passed your window he saw, by means of his great height, thes_roofs upon your table, and conjectured what they were. No harm would hav_een done had it not been that as he passed your door he perceived the ke_hich had been left by the carelessness of your servant. A sudden impulse cam_ver him to enter and see if they were indeed the proofs. It was not _angerous exploit, for he could always pretend that he had simply looked in t_sk a question.
  • "Well, when he saw that they were indeed the proofs, it was then that h_ielded to temptation. He put his shoes on the table. What was it you put o_hat chair near the window?"
  • "Gloves," said the young man.
  • Holmes looked triumphantly at Bannister. "He put his gloves on the chair, an_e took the proofs, sheet by sheet, to copy them. He thought the tutor mus_eturn by the main gate, and that he would see him. As we know, he came bac_y the side gate. Suddenly he heard him at the very door. There was n_ossible escape. He forgot his gloves, but he caught up his shoes and darte_nto the bedroom. You observe that the scratch on that table is slight at on_ide, but deepens in the direction of the bedroom door. That in itself i_nough to show us that the shoe had been drawn in that direction and that th_ulprit had taken refuge there. The earth round the spike had been left on th_able, and a second sample was loosened and fell in the bedroom. I may ad_hat I walked out to the athletic grounds this morning, saw that tenaciou_lack clay is used in the jumping-pit, and carried away a specimen of it, together with some of the fine tan or sawdust which is strewn over it t_revent the athlete from slipping. Have I told the truth, Mr. Gilchrist?"
  • The student had drawn himself erect.
  • "Yes, sir, it is true," said he.
  • "Good heavens, have you nothing to add?" cried Soames.
  • "Yes, sir, I have, but the shock of this disgraceful exposure has bewildere_e. I have a letter here, Mr. Soames, which I wrote to you early this mornin_n the middle of a restless night. It was before I knew that my sin had foun_e out. Here it is, sir. You will see that I have said, `I have determined no_o go in for the examination. I have been offered a commission in th_hodesian Police, and I am going out to South Africa at once."'
  • "I am indeed pleased to hear that you did not intend to profit by your unfai_dvantage," said Soames. "But why did you change your purpose?"
  • Gilchrist pointed to Bannister.
  • "There is the man who set me in the right path," said he.
  • "Come now, Bannister," said Holmes. "It will be clear to you from what I hav_aid that only you could have let this young man out, since you were left i_he room, and must have locked the door when you went out. As to his escapin_y that window, it was incredible. Can you not clear up the last point in thi_ystery, and tell us the reasons for your action?"
  • "It was simple enough, sir, if you only had known; but with all you_leverness it was impossible that you could know. Time was, sir, when I wa_utler to old Sir Jabez Gilchrist, this young gentleman's father. When he wa_uined I came to the college as servant, but I never forgot my old employe_ecause he was down in the world. I watched his son all I could for the sak_f the old days. Well, sir, when I came into this room yesterday when th_larm was given, the very first thing I saw was Mr. Gilchrist's tan glove_-lying in that chair. I knew those gloves well, and I understood thei_essage. If Mr. Soames saw them the game was up. I flopped down into tha_hair, and nothing would budge me until Mr. Soames he went for you. Then ou_ame my poor young master, whom I had dandled on my knee, and confessed it al_o me. Wasn't it natural, sir, that I should save him, and wasn't it natura_lso that I should try to speak to him as his dead father would have done, an_ake him understand that he could not profit by such a deed? Could you blam_e, sir?"
  • "No, indeed," said Holmes, heartily, springing to his feet. "Well, Soames, _hink we have cleared your little problem up, and our breakfast awaits us a_ome. Come, Watson! As to you, sir, I trust that a bright future awaits you i_hodesia. For once you have fallen low. Let us see in the future how high yo_an rise."