Dear me, Watson, said Holmes, staring with great
curiosity at the slips of foolscap which the landlady had handed to him, this is
certainly a little unusual. Seclusion I can understand; but why print? Printing is a
clumsy process. Why not write? What would it suggest, Watson?
That he desired to conceal his handwriting.
But why? What can it matter to him that his landlady
should have a word of his writing? Still, it may be as you say. Then, again, why such
It opens a pleasing field for intelligent speculation.
The words are written with a broad-pointed, violet-tinted pencil of a not unusual pattern.
You will observe that the paper is torn away at the side here after the printing was done,
so that the S of SOAP is partly gone. Suggestive, Watson, is it
Exactly. There was evidently some mark, some thumbprint,
something which might give a clue to the persons identity. Now, Mrs. Warren, you say
that the man was of middle size, dark, and bearded. What age would he be?
Youngish, sirnot over thirty.
Well, can you give me no further indications?
He spoke good English, sir, and yet I thought he was a
foreigner by his accent.
And he was well dressed?
Very smartly dressed, sirquite the gentleman. Dark
clothesnothing you would note.
He gave no name?
And has had no letters or callers?
But surely you or the girl enter his room of a
No, sir; he looks after himself entirely.
Dear me! that is certainly remarkable. What about his
He had one big brown bag with himnothing
Well, we dont seem to have much material to help
us. Do you say nothing has come out of that roomabsolutely nothing?
The landlady drew an envelope from her bag; from it she shook
out two burnt matches and a cigarette-end upon the table.
They were on his tray this morning. I brought them
because I had heard that you can read great things out of small ones.
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
There is nothing here, said he. The matches
have, of course, been used to light cigarettes. That is obvious from the shortness of the
burnt end. Half the match is consumed in lighting a pipe or cigar. But, dear me! this
cigarette stub is certainly remarkable. The gentleman was bearded and moustached, you
I dont understand that. I should say that only a
clean-shaven man could have smoked this. Why, Watson, even your modest moustache would
have been singed.
A holder? I suggested.
No, no; the end is matted. I suppose there could not be
two people in your rooms, Mrs. Warren?
No, sir. He eats so little that I often wonder it can
keep life in one.
Well, I think we must wait for a little more material.
After all, you have nothing to complain of. You have received your rent, and he is not a
troublesome lodger, though he is certainly an unusual one. He pays you well, and if he
chooses to lie concealed it is no direct business of yours. We have no excuse for an
intrusion upon his privacy until we have some reason to think that there is a guilty
reason for it. Ive taken up the matter, and I wont lose sight of it. Report to
me if anything fresh occurs, and rely upon my assistance if it should be needed.
are certainly some points of interest in this case, Watson, he remarked when the
landlady had left us. It may, of course, be trivial individual eccentricity;
or it may be very much deeper than appears on the surface. The first thing that strikes
one is the obvious possibility that the person now in the rooms may be entirely different
from the one who engaged them.
Why should you think so?
Well, apart from this cigarette-end, was it not
suggestive that the only time the lodger went out was immediately after his taking the
rooms? He came backor someone came backwhen all witnesses were out of the way.
We have no proof that the person who came back was the person who went out. Then, again,
the man who took the rooms spoke English well. This other, however, prints
match when it should have been matches. I can imagine that the
word was taken out of a dictionary, which would give the noun but not the plural. The
laconic style may be to conceal the absence of knowledge of English. Yes, Watson, there
are good reasons to suspect that there has been a substitution of lodgers.
But for what possible end?
Ah! there lies our problem. There is one rather obvious
line of investigation. He took down the great book in which, day by day, he filed
the agony columns of the various London journals. Dear me! said he, turning
over the pages, what a chorus of groans, cries, and bleatings! What a rag-bag of
singular happenings! But surely the most valuable hunting-ground that ever was given to a
student of the unusual! This person is alone and cannot be approached by letter without a
breach of that absolute secrecy which is desired. How is any news or any message to reach
him from without? Obviously by advertisement through a newspaper. There seems no other
way, and fortunately we need concern ourselves with the one paper only. Here are the Daily
Gazette extracts of the last fortnight. Lady with a black boa at Princes
Skating Clubthat we may pass. Surely Jimmy will not break his
mothers heart that appears to be irrelevant. If the lady who
fainted in the Brixton bus she does not interest me. Every day my heart
longs Bleat, Watson unmitigated bleat! Ah, this is a little more
possible. Listen to this: Be patient. Will find some sure means of communication.
Meanwhile, this column. G. That is two days after Mrs. Warrens lodger arrived.
It sounds plausible, does it not? The mysterious one could understand English, even if he
could not print it. Let us see if we can pick up the trace again. Yes, here we are
three days later. Am making successful arrangements. Patience and prudence. The
clouds will pass. G. Nothing for a week after that. Then comes something much more
definite: The path is clearing. If I find chance signal message remember code
agreedone A, two B, and so on. You will hear soon. G. That was in
yesterdays paper, and there is nothing in to-days. Its all very
appropriate to Mrs. Warrens lodger. If we wait a little, Watson, I dont doubt
that the affair will grow more intelligible.
So it proved; for in the morning I found my friend standing on
the hearthrug with his back to the fire and a smile of complete satisfaction upon his
Hows this, Watson? he cried, picking up the
paper from the table. High red house with white stone facings. Third floor.
Second window left. After dusk. G. That is definite enough. I think after breakfast
we must make a little reconnaissance of Mrs. Warrens neighbourhood. Ah, Mrs. Warren!
what news do you bring us this morning?
client had suddenly burst into the room with an explosive energy which told of some new
and momentous development.
Its a police matter, Mr. Holmes! she cried.
Ill have no more of it! He shall pack out of there with his baggage. I would
have gone straight up and told him so, only I thought it was but fair to you to take your
opinion first. But Im at the end of my patience, and when it comes to knocking my
old man about
Knocking Mr. Warren about?
Using him roughly, anyway.
But who used him roughly?
Ah! thats what we want to know! It was this
morning, sir. Mr. Warren is a timekeeper at Morton and Waylights, in Tottenham Court
Road. He has to be out of the house before seven. Well, this morning he had not gone ten
paces down the road when two men came up behind him, threw a coat over his head, and
bundled him into a cab that was beside the curb. They drove him an hour, and then opened
the door and shot him out. He lay in the roadway so shaken in his wits that he never saw
what became of the cab. When he picked himself up he found he was on Hampstead Heath; so
he took a bus home, and there he lies now on the sofa, while I came straight round to tell
you what had happened.
Most interesting, said Holmes. Did he
observe the appearance of these mendid he hear them talk?
No; he is clean dazed. He just knows that he was lifted
up as if by magic and dropped as if by magic. Two at least were in it, and maybe
And you connect this attack with your lodger?
Well, weve lived there fifteen years and no such
happenings ever came before. Ive had enough of him. Moneys not everything.
Ill have him out of my house before the day is done.
Wait a bit, Mrs. Warren. Do nothing rash. I begin to
think that this affair may be very much more important than appeared at first sight. It is
clear now that some danger is threatening your lodger. It is equally clear that his
enemies, lying in wait for him near your door, mistook your husband for him in the foggy
morning light. On discovering their mistake they released him. What they would have done
had it not been a mistake, we can only conjecture.
Well, what am I to do, Mr. Holmes?
I have a great fancy to see this lodger of yours, Mrs.
I dont see how that is to be managed, unless you
break in the door. I always hear him unlock it as I go down the stair after I leave the
He has to take the tray in. Surely we could conceal
ourselves and see him do it.
The landlady thought for a moment.
Well, sir, theres the box-room opposite. I could
arrange a looking-glass, maybe, and if you were behind the door
Excellent! said Holmes. When does he
About one, sir.
Then Dr. Watson and I will come round in time. For the
present, Mrs. Warren, good-bye.
At half-past twelve we found ourselves upon the steps of Mrs.
Warrens housea high, thin, yellow-brick edifice in Great Orme Street, a narrow
thoroughfare at the northeast side of the British Museum. Standing as it does near the
corner of the street, it commands a view down Howe Street, with its more pretentious  houses. Holmes pointed with
a chuckle to one of these, a row of residential flats, which projected so that they could
not fail to catch the eye.
See, Watson! said he. High red house
with stone facings. There is the signal station all right. We know the place, and we
know the code; so surely our task should be simple. Theres a to let card
in that window. It is evidently an empty flat to which the confederate has access. Well,
Mrs. Warren, what now?
I have it all ready for you. If you will both come up
and leave your boots below on the landing, Ill put you there now.
It was an excellent hiding-place which she had arranged. The
mirror was so placed that, seated in the dark, we could very plainly see the door
opposite. We had hardly settled down in it, and Mrs. Warren left us, when a distant tinkle
announced that our mysterious neighbour had rung. Presently the landlady appeared with the
tray, laid it down upon a chair beside the closed door, and then, treading heavily,
departed. Crouching together in the angle of the door, we kept our eyes fixed upon the
mirror. Suddenly, as the landladys footsteps died away, there was the creak of a
turning key, the handle revolved, and two thin hands darted out and lifted the tray from
the chair. An instant later it was hurriedly replaced, and I caught a glimpse of a dark,
beautiful, horrified face glaring at the narrow opening of the box-room. Then the door
crashed to, the key turned once more, and all was silence. Holmes twitched my sleeve, and
together we stole down the stair.
I will call again in the evening, said he to
the expectant landlady. I think, Watson, we can discuss this business better in our
My surmise, as you saw, proved to be correct, said
he, speaking from the depths of his easy-chair. There has been a substitution of
lodgers. What I did not foresee is that we should find a woman, and no ordinary woman,
She saw us.
Well, she saw something to alarm her. That is certain.
The general sequence of events is pretty clear, is it not? A couple seek refuge in London
from a very terrible and instant danger. The measure of that danger is the rigour of their
precautions. The man, who has some work which he must do, desires to leave the woman in
absolute safety while he does it. It is not an easy problem, but he solved it in an
original fashion, and so effectively that her presence was not even known to the landlady
who supplies her with food. The printed messages, as is now evident, were to prevent her
sex being discovered by her writing. The man cannot come near the woman, or he will guide
their enemies to her. Since he cannot communicate with her direct, he has recourse to the
agony column of a paper. So far all is clear.
But what is at the root of it?
Ah, yes, Watsonseverely practical, as usual! What
is at the root of it all? Mrs. Warrens whimsical problem enlarges somewhat and
assumes a more sinister aspect as we proceed. This much we can say: that it is no ordinary
love escapade. You saw the womans face at the sign of danger. We have heard, too, of
the attack upon the landlord, which was undoubtedly meant for the lodger. These alarms,
and the desperate need for secrecy, argue that the matter is one of life or death. The
attack upon Mr. Warren further shows that the enemy, whoever they are, are themselves not
aware of the substitution of the female lodger for the male. It is very curious and
Why should you go further in it? What have you to gain
indeed? It is art for arts sake, Watson. I suppose when you doctored you found
yourself studying cases without thought of a fee?
For my education, Holmes.
Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons
with the greatest for the last. This is an instructive case. There is neither money nor
credit in it, and yet one would wish to tidy it up. When dusk comes we should find
ourselves one stage advanced in our investigation.
When we returned to Mrs. Warrens rooms, the gloom of a
London winter evening had thickened into one gray curtain, a dead monotone of colour,
broken only by the sharp yellow squares of the windows and the blurred haloes of the
gas-lamps. As we peered from the darkened sitting-room of the lodging-house, one more dim
light glimmered high up through the obscurity.
Someone is moving in that room, said Holmes in a
whisper, his gaunt and eager face thrust forward to the window-pane. Yes, I can see
his shadow. There he is again! He has a candle in his hand. Now he is peering across. He
wants to be sure that she is on the lookout. Now he begins to flash. Take the message
also, Watson, that we may check each other. A single flashthat is A,
surely. Now, then. How many did you make it? Twenty. So did I. That should mean T.
ATthats intelligible enough! Another T. Surely
this is the beginning of a second word. Now, thenTENTA. Dead stop.
That cant be all, Watson? ATTENTA gives no sense. Nor is it any
better as three words AT, TEN, TA, unless T.
A. are a persons initials. There it goes again! Whats that? ATTEwhy,
it is the same message over again. Curious, Watson, very curious! Now he is off once more!
ATwhy, he is repeating it for the third time. ATTENTA three
times! How often will he repeat it? No, that seems to be the finish. He has withdrawn from
the window. What do you make of it, Watson?
A cipher message, Holmes.
My companion gave a sudden chuckle of comprehension. And
not a very obscure cipher, Watson, said he. Why, of course, it is Italian! The
A means that it is addressed to a woman. Beware! Beware! Beware! Hows
I believe you have hit it.
Not a doubt of it. It is a very urgent message, thrice
repeated to make it more so. But beware of what? Wait a bit; he is coming to the window
Again we saw the dim silhouette of a crouching man and the
whisk of the small flame across the window as the signals were renewed. They came more
rapidly than beforeso rapid that it was hard to follow them.
whats that, Watson? Danger, isnt it? Yes, by Jove, its a
danger signal. There he goes again! PERI. Halloa, what on earth
The light had suddenly gone out, the glimmering square of
window had disappeared, and the third floor formed a dark band round the lofty building,
with its tiers of shining casements. That last warning cry had been suddenly cut short.
How, and by whom? The same thought occurred on the instant to us both. Holmes sprang up
from where he crouched by the window.
This is serious, Watson, he cried. There is
some devilry going forward! Why should such a message stop in such a way? I should put
Scotland Yard in touch with this businessand yet, it is too pressing for us to
Shall I go for the police?
We must define the situation a little more clearly. It
may bear some more innocent interpretation. Come, Watson, let us go across ourselves and
see what we can make of it.
we walked rapidly down Howe Street I glanced back at the building which we had left.
There, dimly outlined at the top window, I could see the shadow of a head, a womans
head, gazing tensely, rigidly, out into the night, waiting with breathless suspense for
the renewal of that interrupted message. At the doorway of the Howe Street flats a man,
muffled in a cravat and greatcoat, was leaning against the railing. He started as the
hall-light fell upon our faces.
Holmes! he cried.
Why, Gregson! said my companion as he shook hands
with the Scotland Yard detective. Journeys end with lovers meetings. What
brings you here?
The same reasons that bring you, I expect, said
Gregson. How you got on to it I cant imagine.
Different threads, but leading up to the same tangle.
Ive been taking the signals.
Yes, from that window. They broke off in the middle. We
came over to see the reason. But since it is safe in your hands I see no object in
continuing the business.
Wait a bit! cried Gregson eagerly. Ill
do you this justice, Mr. Holmes, that I was never in a case yet that I didnt feel
stronger for having you on my side. Theres only the one exit to these flats, so we
have him safe.
Who is he?
Well, well, we score over you for once, Mr. Holmes. You
must give us best this time. He struck his stick sharply upon the ground, on which a
cabman, his whip in his hand, sauntered over from a four-wheeler which stood on the far
side of the street. May I introduce you to Mr. Sherlock Holmes? he said to the
cabman. This is Mr. Leverton, of Pinkertons American Agency.
The hero of the Long Island cave mystery? said
Holmes. Sir, I am pleased to meet you.
The American, a quiet, businesslike young man, with a
clean-shaven, hatchet face, flushed up at the words of commendation. I am on the
trail of my life now, Mr. Holmes, said he. If I can get Gorgiano
What! Gorgiano of the Red Circle?
Oh, he has a European fame, has he? Well, weve
learned all about him in America. We know he is at the bottom of fifty murders,
and yet we have nothing positive we can take him on. I tracked him over from New York, and
Ive been close to him for a week in London, waiting some excuse to get my hand on
his collar. Mr. Gregson and I ran him to ground in that big tenement house, and
theres only the one door, so he cant slip us. Theres three folk come out
since he went in, but Ill swear he wasnt one of them.
Mr. Holmes talks of signals, said Gregson. I
expect, as usual, he knows a good deal that we dont.
In a few clear words Holmes explained the situation as it had
appeared to us. The American struck his hands together with vexation.
Hes on to us! he cried.
Why do you think so?
Well, it figures out that way, does it not? Here he is,
sending out messages to an accomplicethere are several of his gang in London. Then
suddenly, just as by  your
own account he was telling them that there was danger, he broke short off. What could it
mean except that from the window he had suddenly either caught sight of us in the street,
or in some way come to understand how close the danger was, and that he must act right
away if he was to avoid it? What do you suggest, Mr. Holmes?
That we go up at once and see for ourselves.
But we have no warrant for his arrest.
He is in unoccupied premises under suspicious
circumstances, said Gregson. That is good enough for the moment. When we have
him by the heels we can see if New York cant help us to keep him. Ill take the
responsibility of arresting him now.
Our official detectives may blunder in the matter of
intelligence, but never in that of courage. Gregson climbed the stair to arrest this
desperate murderer with the same absolutely quiet and businesslike bearing with which he
would have ascended the official staircase of Scotland Yard. The Pinkerton man had tried
to push past him, but Gregson had firmly elbowed him back. London dangers were the
privilege of the London force.
The door of the left-hand flat upon the third landing was
standing ajar. Gregson pushed it open. Within all was absolute silence and darkness. I
struck a match and lit the detectives lantern. As I did so, and as the flicker
steadied into a flame, we all gave a gasp of surprise. On the deal boards of the
carpetless floor there was outlined a fresh track of blood. The red steps pointed towards
us and led away from an inner room, the door of which was closed. Gregson flung it open
and held his light full blaze in front of him, while we all peered eagerly over his
In the middle of the floor of the empty room was huddled the
figure of an enormous man, his clean-shaven, swarthy face grotesquely horrible in its
contortion and his head encircled by a ghastly crimson halo of blood, lying in a broad wet
circle upon the white woodwork. His knees were drawn up, his hands thrown out in agony,
and from the centre of his broad, brown, upturned throat there projected the white haft of
a knife driven blade-deep into his body. Giant as he was, the man must have gone down like
a pole-axed ox before that terrific blow. Beside his right hand a most formidable
horn-handled, two-edged dagger lay upon the floor, and near it a black kid glove.
By George! its Black Gorgiano himself!
cried the American detective. Someone has got ahead of us this time.
Here is the candle in the window, Mr. Holmes, said
Gregson. Why, whatever are you doing?
Holmes had stepped across, had lit the candle, and was passing
it backward and forward across the window-panes. Then he peered into the darkness, blew
the candle out, and threw it on the floor.
I rather think that will be helpful, said he.
He came over and stood in deep thought while the two professionals were examining the
body. You say that three people came out from the flat while you were waiting
downstairs, said he at last. Did you observe them closely?
Yes, I did.
Was there a fellow about thirty, black-bearded, dark, of
Yes; he was the last to pass me.
That is your man, I fancy. I can give you his
description, and we have a very excellent outline of his footmark. That should be enough
much, Mr. Holmes, among the millions of London.
Perhaps not. That is why I thought it best to summon
this lady to your aid.
We all turned round at the words. There, framed in the
doorway, was a tall and beautiful womanthe mysterious lodger of Bloomsbury. Slowly
she advanced, her face pale and drawn with a frightful apprehension, her eyes fixed and
staring, her terrified gaze riveted upon the dark figure on the floor.
You have killed him! she muttered. Oh, Dio
mio, you have killed him! Then I heard a sudden sharp intake of her breath, and
she sprang into the air with a cry of joy. Round and round the room she danced, her hands
clapping, her dark eyes gleaming with delighted wonder, and a thousand pretty Italian
exclamations pouring from her lips. It was terrible and amazing to see such a woman so
convulsed with joy at such a sight. Suddenly she stopped and gazed at us all with a
But you! You are police, are you not? You have killed
Giuseppe Gorgiano. Is it not so?
We are police, madam.
She looked round into the shadows of the room.
But where, then, is Gennaro? she asked. He
is my husband, Gennaro Lucca. I am Emilia Lucca, and we are both from New York. Where is
Gennaro? He called me this moment from this window, and I ran with all my speed.
It was I who called, said Holmes.
You! How could you call?
Your cipher was not difficult, madam. Your presence here
was desirable. I knew that I had only to flash Vieni and you would
The beautiful Italian looked with awe at my companion.
I do not understand how you know these things, she
said. Giuseppe Gorgianohow did he She paused, and then
suddenly her face lit up with pride and delight. Now I see it! My Gennaro! My
splendid, beautiful Gennaro, who has guarded me safe from all harm, he did it, with his
own strong hand he killed the monster! Oh, Gennaro, how wonderful you are! What woman
could ever be worthy of such a man?
Well, Mrs. Lucca, said the prosaic Gregson, laying
his hand upon the ladys sleeve with as little sentiment as if she were a Notting
Hill hooligan, I am not very clear yet who you are or what you are; but youve
said enough to make it very clear that we shall want you at the Yard.
One moment, Gregson, said Holmes. I rather
fancy that this lady may be as anxious to give us information as we can be to get it. You
understand, madam, that your husband will be arrested and tried for the death of the man
who lies before us? What you say may be used in evidence. But if you think that he has
acted from motives which are not criminal, and which he would wish to have known, then you
cannot serve him better than by telling us the whole story.
Now that Gorgiano is dead we fear nothing, said
the lady. He was a devil and a monster, and there can be no judge in the world who
would punish my husband for having killed him.
In that case, said Holmes, my suggestion is
that we lock this door, leave things as we found them, go with this lady to her room, and
form our opinion after we have heard what it is that she has to say to us.
Half an hour later we were seated, all four, in the small
sitting-room of Signora Lucca, listening to her remarkable narrative of those sinister
events, the ending of which we had chanced to witness. She spoke in rapid and fluent but
very  unconventional
English, which, for the sake of clearness, I will make grammatical.
I was born in Posilippo, near Naples, said she,
and was the daughter of Augusto Barelli, who was the chief lawyer and once the
deputy of that part. Gennaro was in my fathers employment, and I came to love him,
as any woman must. He had neither money nor positionnothing but his beauty and
strength and energyso my father forbade the match. We fled together, were married at
Bari, and sold my jewels to gain the money which would take us to America. This was four
years ago, and we have been in New York ever since.
Fortune was very good to us at first. Gennaro was able
to do a service to an Italian gentlemanhe saved him from some ruffians in the place
called the Bowery, and so made a powerful friend. His name was Tito Castalotte, and he was
the senior partner of the great firm of Castalotte and Zamba, who are the chief fruit
importers of New York. Signor Zamba is an invalid, and our new friend Castalotte has all
power within the firm, which employs more than three hundred men. He took my husband into
his employment, made him head of a department, and showed his good-will towards him in
every way. Signor Castalotte was a bachelor, and I believe that he felt as if Gennaro was
his son, and both my husband and I loved him as if he were our father. We had taken and
furnished a little house in Brooklyn, and our whole future seemed assured when that black
cloud appeared which was soon to overspread our sky.
One night, when Gennaro returned from his work, he
brought a fellow-countryman back with him. His name was Gorgiano, and he had come also
from Posilippo. He was a huge man, as you can testify, for you have looked upon his
corpse. Not only was his body that of a giant but everything about him was grotesque,
gigantic, and terrifying. His voice was like thunder in our little house. There was scarce
room for the whirl of his great arms as he talked. His thoughts, his emotions, his
passions, all were exaggerated and monstrous. He talked, or rather roared, with such
energy that others could but sit and listen, cowed with the mighty stream of words. His
eyes blazed at you and held you at his mercy. He was a terrible and wonderful man. I thank
God that he is dead!
He came again and again. Yet I was aware that Gennaro
was no more happy than I was in his presence. My poor husband would sit pale and listless,
listening to the endless raving upon politics and upon social questions which made up our
visitors conversation. Gennaro said nothing, but I, who knew him so well, could read
in his face some emotion which I had never seen there before. At first I thought that it
was dislike. And then, gradually, I understood that it was more than dislike. It was
feara deep, secret, shrinking fear. That nightthe night that I read his
terrorI put my arms round him and I implored him by his love for me and by all that
he held dear to hold nothing from me, and to tell me why this huge man overshadowed him
He told me, and my own heart grew cold as ice as I
listened. My poor Gennaro, in his wild and fiery days, when all the world seemed against
him and his mind was driven half mad by the injustices of life, had joined a Neapolitan
society, the Red Circle, which was allied to the old Carbonari. The oaths and secrets of
this brotherhood were frightful, but once within its rule no escape was possible. When we
had fled to America Gennaro thought that he had cast it all off forever. What was his
horror one evening to meet in the streets the very man who had initiated him in Naples,
the giant Gorgiano, a man who had earned the name of Death in the south of
Italy, for he was red to the elbow in murder! He had come to New  York to avoid the Italian police, and he had already
planted a branch of this dreadful society in his new home. All this Gennaro told me and
showed me a summons which he had received that very day, a Red Circle drawn upon the head
of it telling him that a lodge would be held upon a certain date, and that his presence at
it was required and ordered.
That was bad enough, but worse was to come. I had
noticed for some time that when Gorgiano came to us, as he constantly did, in the evening,
he spoke much to me; and even when his words were to my husband those terrible, glaring,
wild-beast eyes of his were always turned upon me. One night his secret came out. I had
awakened what he called love within himthe love of a brute a
savage. Gennaro had not yet returned when he came. He pushed his way in, seized me in his
mighty arms, hugged me in his bears embrace, covered me with kisses, and implored me
to come away with him. I was struggling and screaming when Gennaro entered and attacked
him. He struck Gennaro senseless and fled from the house which he was never more to enter.
It was a deadly enemy that we made that night.
A few days later came the meeting. Gennaro returned from
it with a face which told me that something dreadful had occurred. It was worse than we
could have imagined possible. The funds of the society were raised by blackmailing rich
Italians and threatening them with violence should they refuse the money. It seems that
Castalotte, our dear friend and benefactor, had been approached. He had refused to yield
to threats, and he had handed the notices to the police. It was resolved now that such an
example should be made of him as would prevent any other victim from rebelling. At the
meeting it was arranged that he and his house should be blown up with dynamite. There was
a drawing of lots as to who should carry out the deed. Gennaro saw our enemys cruel
face smiling at him as he dipped his hand in the bag. No doubt it had been prearranged in
some fashion, for it was the fatal disc with the Red Circle upon it, the mandate for
murder, which lay upon his palm. He was to kill his best friend, or he was to expose
himself and me to the vengeance of his comrades. It was part of their fiendish system to
punish those whom they feared or hated by injuring not only their own persons but those
whom they loved, and it was the knowledge of this which hung as a terror over my poor
Gennaros head and drove him nearly crazy with apprehension.
All that night we sat together, our arms round each
other, each strengthening each for the troubles that lay before us. The very next evening
had been fixed for the attempt. By midday my husband and I were on our way to London, but
not before he had given our benefactor full warning of his danger, and had also left such
information for the police as would safeguard his life for the future.
The rest, gentlemen, you know for yourselves. We were
sure that our enemies would be behind us like our own shadows. Gorgiano had his private
reasons for vengeance, but in any case we knew how ruthless, cunning, and untiring he
could be. Both Italy and America are full of stories of his dreadful powers. If ever they
were exerted it would be now. My darling made use of the few clear days which our start
had given us in arranging for a refuge for me in such a fashion that no possible danger
could reach me. For his own part, he wished to be free that he might communicate both with
the American and with the Italian police. I do not myself know where he lived, or how. All
that I learned was through the columns of a newspaper. But once as I looked through my
window, I saw two Italians watching the house, and I understood that in some way Gorgiano
had found out our retreat. Finally Gennaro told me, through the paper, that he would
signal to  me from a
certain window, but when the signals came they were nothing but warnings, which were
suddenly interrupted. It is very clear to me now that he knew Gorgiano to be close upon
him, and that, thank God! he was ready for him when he came. And now, gentlemen, I would
ask you whether we have anything to fear from the law, or whether any judge upon earth
would condemn my Gennaro for what he has done?
Well, Mr. Gregson, said the American, looking
across at the official, I dont know what your British point of view may be,
but I guess that in New York this ladys husband will receive a pretty general vote
She will have to come with me and see the chief,
Gregson answered. If what she says is corroborated, I do not think she or her
husband has much to fear. But what I cant make head or tail of, Mr. Holmes, is how
on earth you got yourself mixed up in the matter.
Education, Gregson, education. Still seeking knowledge
at the old university. Well, Watson, you have one more specimen of the tragic and
grotesque to add to your collection. By the way, it is not eight oclock, and a
Wagner night at Covent Garden! If we hurry, we might be in time for the second act.