WE HAD all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon the
Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no occasion for our testimony. A higher
Judge had taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned before a tribunal
where strict justice would be meted out to him. On the very night after his capture the
aneurism burst, and he was found in the morning stretched upon the floor of the cell, with
a placid smile upon his face, as though he had been able in his dying moments to look back
upon a useful life, and on work well done.
Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death,
Holmes remarked, as we chatted it over next evening. Where will their grand
advertisement be now?
I dont see that they had very much to do with his
capture, I answered.
What you do in this world is a matter of no
consequence, returned my companion, bitterly. The question is, what can you
make people believe that you have done? Never mind, he continued, more brightly,
after a pause. I would not have missed the investigation for anything. There has
been no better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several most
instructive points about it.
Simple! I ejaculated.
Well, really, it can hardly be described as
otherwise, said Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my surprise. The proof of its
intrinsic simplicity is, that without any help save a few very ordinary deductions I was
able to lay my hand upon the criminal within three days.
That is true, said I.
I have already explained to you that what is out of the
common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the
grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a
very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is
more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who
can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.
I confess, said I, that I do not quite
I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can
make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you
what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue
from them  that something
will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be
able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that
result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward, or
I understand, said I.
Now this was a case in which you were given the result
and had to find everything else for yourself. Now let me endeavour to show you the
different steps in my reasoning. To begin at the beginning. I approached the house, as you
know, on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all impressions. I naturally began by
examining the roadway, and there, as I have already explained to you, I saw clearly the
marks of a cab, which, I ascertained by inquiry, must have been there during the night. I
satisfied myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the
wheels. The ordinary London growler is considerably less wide than a gentlemans
This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly
down the garden path, which happened to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable
for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to you to be a mere trampled line of slush,
but to my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had a meaning. There is no branch of
detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing
footsteps. Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it, and much practice has made it
second nature to me. I saw the heavy footmarks of the constables, but I saw also the track
of the two men who had first passed through the garden. It was easy to tell that they had
been before the others, because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by the
others coming upon the top of them. In this way my second link was formed, which told me
that the nocturnal visitors were two in number, one remarkable for his height (as I
calculated from the length of his stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to judge
from the small and elegant impression left by his boots.
On entering the house this last inference was confirmed.
My well-booted man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder there
was. There was no wound upon the dead mans person, but the agitated expression upon
his face assured me that he had foreseen his fate before it came upon him. Men who die
from heart disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by any chance exhibit agitation
upon their features. Having sniffed the dead mans lips, I detected a slightly sour
smell, and I came to the conclusion that he had had poison forced upon him. Again, I
argued that it had been forced upon him from the hatred and fear expressed upon his face.
By the method of exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis would
meet the facts. Do not imagine that it was a very unheard-of idea. The forcible
administration of poison is by no means a new thing in criminal annals. The cases of
Dolsky in Odessa, and of Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once to any toxicologist.
And now came the great question as to the reason why.
Robbery had not been the object of the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it politics,
then, or was it a woman? That was the question which confronted me. I was inclined from
the first to the latter supposition. Political assassins are only too glad to do their
work and to fly. This murder had, on the contrary, been done most deliberately, and the
perpetrator had left his tracks all over the room, showing that he had been there all the
time. It must have been a private wrong, and not a political one, which called for such a
methodical revenge. When the inscription was discovered  upon the wall, I was more inclined than ever to my
opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring was found, however, it settled
the question. Clearly the murderer had used it to remind his victim of some dead or absent
woman. It was at this point that I asked Gregson whether he had inquired in his telegram
to Cleveland as to any particular point in Mr. Drebbers former career. He answered,
you remember, in the negative.
I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the
room, which confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderers height, and furnished me
with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar and the length of his nails. I
had already come to the conclusion, since there were no signs of a struggle, that the
blood which covered the floor had burst from the murderers nose in his excitement. I
could perceive that the track of blood coincided with the track of his feet. It is seldom
that any man, unless he is very full-blooded, breaks out in this way through emotion, so I
hazarded the opinion that the criminal was probably a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events
proved that I had judged correctly.
Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson
had neglected. I telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland, limiting my inquiry
to the circumstances connected with the marriage of Enoch Drebber. The answer was
conclusive. It told me that Drebber had already applied for the protection of the law
against an old rival in love, named Jefferson Hope, and that this same Hope was at present
in Europe. I knew now that I held the clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that
remained was to secure the murderer.
I had already determined in my own mind that the man who
had walked into the house with Drebber was none other than the man who had driven the cab.
The marks in the road showed me that the horse had wandered on in a way which would have
been impossible had there been anyone in charge of it. Where, then, could the driver be,
unless he were inside the house? Again, it is absurd to suppose that any sane man would
carry out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it were, of a third person, who was
sure to betray him. Lastly, supposing one man wished to dog another through London, what
better means could he adopt than to turn cabdriver? All these considerations led me to the
irresistible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys of the
If he had been one, there was no reason to believe that
he had ceased to be. On the contrary, from his point of view, any sudden change would be
likely to draw attention to himself. He would probably, for a time at least, continue to
perform his duties. There was no reason to suppose that he was going under an assumed
name. Why should he change his name in a country where no one knew his original one? I
therefore organized my street Arab detective corps, and sent them systematically to every
cab proprietor in London until they ferreted out the man that I wanted. How well they
succeeded, and how quickly I took advantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection.
The murder of Stangerson was an incident which was entirely unexpected, but which could
hardly in any case have been prevented. Through it, as you know, I came into possession of
the pills, the existence of which I had already surmised. You see, the whole thing is a
chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw.
It is wonderful! I cried. Your merits should
be publicly recognized. You should publish an account of the case. If you wont, I
will for you.
You may do what you like, Doctor, he answered.
See here! he continued, handing a paper over to me, look at this!
It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph to which he pointed was devoted to
the case in question.
The public, it said, have lost a sensational
treat through the sudden death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the murder of Mr.
Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The details of the case will probably be never
known now, though we are informed upon good authority that the crime was the result of an
old-standing and romantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that
both the victims belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and Hope, the
deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake City. If the case has had no other effect,
it, at least, brings out in the most striking manner the efficiency of our detective
police force, and will serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will do wisely to
settle their feuds at home, and not to carry them on to British soil. It is an open secret
that the credit of this smart capture belongs entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard
officials, Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was apprehended, it appears, in the rooms
of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as an amateur, shown some talent in the
detective line and who, with such instructors, may hope in time to attain to some degree
of their skill. It is expected that a testimonial of some sort will be presented to the
two officers as a fitting recognition of their services.
Didnt I tell you so when we started?
cried Sherlock Holmes with a laugh. Thats the result of all our Study in
Scarlet: to get them a testimonial!
Never mind, I answered; I have all the facts
in my journal, and the public shall know them. In the meantime you must make yourself
contented by the consciousness of success, like the Roman miser
Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.