No, sir, we haint, said one of the
I hardly expected you would. You must keep on until you
do. Here are your wages. He handed each of them a shilling. Now, off you go,
and come back with a better report next time.
He waved his hand, and they scampered away downstairs like so
many rats, and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the street.
Theres more work to be got out of one of those
little beggars than out of a dozen of the force, Holmes remarked. The mere
sight of an official-looking person seals mens lips. These youngsters, however, go
everywhere and hear everything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all they want is
Is it on this Brixton case that you are employing
them? I asked.
Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. It is
merely a matter of time. Hullo! we are going to hear some news now with a vengeance! Here
is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude written upon every feature of his face.
Bound for us, I know. Yes, he is stopping. There he is!
There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a few seconds the
fair-haired detective came up the stairs, three steps at a time, and burst into our
My dear fellow, he cried, wringing Holmess
unresponsive hand, congratulate me! I have made the whole thing as clear as
A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companions
Do you mean that you are on the right track? he
The right track! Why, sir, we have the man under lock
And his name is?
Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her Majestys
navy, cried Gregson pompously rubbing his fat hands and inflating his chest.
Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief and relaxed into a
Take a seat, and try one of these cigars, he said.
We are anxious to know how you managed it. Will you have some whisky and
I dont mind if I do, the detective answered.
The tremendous exertions which I have gone through during the last day or two have
worn me out. Not so much 
bodily exertion, you understand, as the strain upon the mind. You will appreciate that,
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both brain-workers.
You do me too much honour, said Holmes, gravely.
Let us hear how you arrived at this most gratifying result.
The detective seated himself in the armchair, and puffed
complacently at his cigar. Then suddenly he slapped his thigh in a paroxysm of amusement.
The fun of it is, he cried, that that fool
Lestrade, who thinks himself so smart, has gone off upon the wrong track altogether. He is
after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the crime than the babe unborn.
I have no doubt that he has caught him by this time.
The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he
And how did you get your clue?
Ah, Ill tell you all about it. Of course, Dr.
Watson, this is strictly between ourselves. The first difficulty which we had to contend
with was the finding of this Americans antecedents. Some people would have waited
until their advertisements were answered, or until parties came forward and volunteered
information. That is not Tobias Gregsons way of going to work. You remember the hat
beside the dead man?
Yes, said Holmes; by John Underwood and
Sons, 129, Camberwell Road.
Gregson looked quite crestfallen.
I had no idea that you noticed that, he said.
Have you been there?
Ha! cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; you
should never neglect a chance, however small it may seem.
To a great mind, nothing is little, remarked
Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him if he had sold
a hat of that size and description. He looked over his books, and came on it at once. He
had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing at Charpentiers Boarding Establishment,
Torquay Terrace. Thus I got at his address.
Smartvery smart! murmured Sherlock Holmes.
I next called upon Madame Charpentier, continued
the detective. I found her very pale and distressed. Her daughter was in the room,
tooan uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she was looking red about the eyes and her
lips trembled as I spoke to her. That didnt escape my notice. I began to smell a
rat. You know the feeling, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon the right scenta
kind of thrill in your nerves. Have you heard of the mysterious death of your late
boarder Mr. Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland? I asked.
The mother nodded. She didnt seem able to get out
a word. The daughter burst into tears. I felt more than ever that these people knew
something of the matter.
At what oclock did Mr. Drebber leave your
house for the train? I asked.
At eight oclock, she said, gulping in
her throat to keep down her agitation. His secretary, Mr. Stangerson, said that
there were two trains one at 9:15 and one at 11. He was to catch the first.
And was that the last which you saw of him?
A terrible change came over the womans face as I
asked the question. Her features turned perfectly livid. It was some seconds before she
could get out the single word Yesand when it did come it was in a husky,
was silence for a moment, and then the daughter spoke in a calm, clear voice.
No good can ever come of falsehood, mother,
she said. Let us be frank with this gentleman. We did see Mr. Drebber
God forgive you! cried Madame Charpentier,
throwing up her hands and sinking back in her chair. You have murdered your
Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,
the girl answered firmly.
You had best tell me all about it now, I
said. Half-confidences are worse than none. Besides, you do not know how much we
know of it.
On your head be it, Alice! cried her mother;
and then, turning to me, I will tell you all, sir. Do not imagine that my agitation
on behalf of my son arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand in this terrible
affair. He is utterly innocent of it. My dread is, however, that in your eyes and in the
eyes of others he may appear to be compromised. That, however, is surely impossible. His
high character, his profession, his antecedents would all forbid it.
Your best way is to make a clean breast of the
facts, I answered. Depend upon it, if your son is innocent he will be none the
Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us
together, she said, and her daughter withdrew. Now, sir, she continued,
I had no intention of telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has disclosed
it I have no alternative. Having once decided to speak, I will tell you all without
omitting any particular.
It is your wisest course, said I.
Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks.
He and his secretary, Mr. Stangerson, had been travelling on the Continent. I noticed a
Copenhagen label upon each of their trunks, showing that that had been their last stopping
place. Stangerson was a quiet, reserved man, but his employer, I am sorry to say, was far
otherwise. He was coarse in his habits and brutish in his ways. The very night of his
arrival he became very much the worse for drink, and, indeed, after twelve oclock in
the day he could hardly ever be said to be sober. His manners towards the maid-servants
were disgustingly free and familiar. Worst of all, he speedily assumed the same attitude
towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke to her more than once in a way which, fortunately,
she is too innocent to understand. On one occasion he actually seized her in his arms and
embraced heran outrage which caused his own secretary to reproach him for his
But why did you stand all this? I asked.
I suppose that you can get rid of your boarders when you wish.
Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question.
Would to God that I had given him notice on the very day that he came, she
said. But it was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound a day
eachfourteen pounds a week, and this is the slack season. I am a widow, and my boy
in the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose the money. I acted for the best. This last
was too much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on account of it. That was the
reason of his going.
My heart grew light when I saw him drive away. My
son is on leave just now, but I did not tell him anything of all this, for his temper is
violent, and he is passionately fond of his sister. When I closed the door behind them a
load seemed to be lifted from my mind. Alas, in less than an hour there was a ring at the
bell, and I learned that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much excited, and evidently the
worse for drink. He forced his way into the room, where I was sitting with my  daughter, and made some
incoherent remark about having missed his train. He then turned to Alice, and before my
very face, proposed to her that she should fly with him. You are of age, he
said, and there is no law to stop you. I have money enough and to spare. Never mind
the old girl here, but come along with me now straight away. You shall live like a
princess. Poor Alice was so frightened that she shrunk away from him, but he caught
her by the wrist and endeavoured to draw her towards the door. I screamed, and at that
moment my son Arthur came into the room. What happened then I do not know. I heard oaths
and the confused sounds of a scuffle. I was too terrified to raise my head. When I did
look up I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing, with a stick in his hand. I
dont think that fine fellow will trouble us again, he said. I will just
go after him and see what he does with himself. With those words he took his hat and
started off down the street. The next morning we heard of Mr. Drebbers mysterious
This statement came from Mrs. Charpentiers lips
with many gasps and pauses. At times she spoke so low that I could hardly catch the words.
I made shorthand notes of all that she said, however, so that there should be no
possibility of a mistake.
Its quite exciting, said Sherlock Holmes,
with a yawn. What happened next?
When Mrs. Charpentier paused, the detective
continued, I saw that the whole case hung upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in
a way which I always found effective with women, I asked her at what hour her son
I do not know, she answered.
No; he has a latchkey, and he let himself
After you went to bed?
When did you go to bed?
So your son was gone at least two hours?
Possibly four or five?
What was he doing during that time?
I do not know, she answered, turning white
to her very lips.
Of course after that there was nothing more to be done.
I found out where Lieutenant Charpentier was, took two officers with me, and arrested him.
When I touched him on the shoulder and warned him to come quietly with us, he answered us
as bold as brass, I suppose you are arresting me for being concerned in the death of
that scoundrel Drebber, he said. We had said nothing to him about it, so that his
alluding to it had a most suspicious aspect.
Very, said Holmes.
He still carried the heavy stick which the mother
described him as having with him when he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak
What is your theory, then?
Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as
the Brixton Road. When there, a fresh altercation arose between them, in the course of
which Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit of the stomach perhaps, which
killed him without leaving any mark. The night was so wet that no one was about, so
Charpentier dragged the body of his victim into the empty house. As to the candle,  and the blood, and the writing
on the wall, and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to throw the police on to the
Well done! said Holmes in an encouraging voice.
Really, Gregson, you are getting along. We shall make something of you yet.
I flatter myself that I have managed it rather
neatly, the detective answered, proudly. The young man volunteered a
statement, in which he said that after following Drebber some time, the latter perceived
him, and took a cab in order to get away from him. On his way home he met an old shipmate,
and took a long walk with him. On being asked where this old shipmate lived, he was unable
to give any satisfactory reply. I think the whole case fits together uncommonly well. What
amuses me is to think of Lestrade, who had started off upon the wrong scent. I am afraid
he wont make much of it. Why, by Jove, heres the very man himself!
It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the stairs while we
were talking, and who now entered the room. The assurance and jauntiness which generally
marked his demeanour and dress were, however, wanting. His face was disturbed and
troubled, while his clothes were disarranged and untidy. He had evidently come with the
intention of consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for on perceiving his colleague he appeared
to be embarrassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling nervously with
his hat and uncertain what to do. This is a most extraordinary case, he said
at lasta most incomprehensible affair.
Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade! cried
Gregson, triumphantly. I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed
to find the secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?
The secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson, said
Lestrade, gravely, was murdered at Hallidays Private Hotel about six
oclock this morning.