By the way, said the landlord in conclusion,
you are not the only friend of Lady Frances Carfax who is inquiring after her just
now. Only a week or so ago we had a man here upon the same errand.
Did he give a name? I asked.
None; but he was an Englishman, though of an unusual
A savage? said I, linking my facts after the
fashion of my illustrious friend.
Exactly. That describes him very well. He is a bulky,
bearded, sunburned fellow, who looks as if he would be more at home in a farmers inn
than in a fashionable hotel. A hard, fierce man, I should think, and one whom I should be
sorry to offend.
Already the mystery began to define itself, as figures grow
clearer with the lifting of a fog. Here was this good and pious lady pursued from place to
place by a sinister and unrelenting figure. She feared him, or she would not have fled
from Lausanne. He had still followed. Sooner or later he would overtake her. Had he
already overtaken her? Was that the secret of her continued silence? Could the
good people who were her companions not screen her from his violence or his blackmail?
What horrible purpose, what deep design, lay behind this long pursuit? There was the
problem which I had to solve.
To Holmes I wrote showing how rapidly and surely I had got
down to the roots of the matter. In reply I had a telegram asking for a description of Dr.
Shlessingers left ear. Holmess ideas of humour are strange and occasionally
offensive, so I took no notice of his ill-timed jestindeed, I had already reached
Montpellier in my pursuit of the maid, Marie, before his message came.
I had no difficulty in finding the ex-servant and in learning
all that she could tell me. She was a devoted creature, who had only left her mistress
because she was sure that she was in good hands, and because her own approaching marriage
made a separation inevitable in any case. Her mistress had, as she confessed with
distress, shown some irritability of temper towards her during their stay in Baden, and
had even questioned her once as if she had suspicions of her honesty, and this had made
the parting easier than it would otherwise have been. Lady Frances had given her fifty
pounds as a wedding-present. Like me, Marie viewed with deep distrust the stranger who had
driven her mistress from Lausanne. With her own eyes she had seen him seize the
ladys wrist with great violence on the public promenade by the lake. He was a fierce
and terrible man. She believed that it was out of dread of him that Lady Frances had
accepted the escort of the Shlessingers to London. She had never spoken to Marie about it,
but many little signs had convinced the maid that her mistress lived in a state of
continual nervous apprehension. So far she had got in her narrative, when suddenly she
sprang from her chair and her face was convulsed with surprise and fear. See!
she cried. The miscreant follows still! There is the very man of whom I speak.
Through the open sitting-room window I saw a huge, swarthy man
with a bristling black beard walking slowly down the centre of the street and staring
eagerly at the numbers of the houses. It was clear that, like myself, he was on the track
of the maid. Acting upon the impulse of the moment, I rushed out and accosted him.
You are an Englishman, I said.
What if I am? he asked with a most villainous
I ask what your name is?
No, you may not, said he with decision.
The situation was awkward, but the most direct way is often
Where is the Lady Frances Carfax? I asked.
He stared at me in amazement.
What have you done with her? Why have you pursued her? I
insist upon an answer! said I.
The fellow gave a bellow of anger and sprang upon me like a
tiger. I have held my own in many a struggle, but the man had a grip of iron and the fury
of a fiend. His hand was on my throat and my senses were nearly gone before an unshaven
French ouvrier in a blue blouse darted out from a cabaret opposite, with
a cudgel in his hand, and struck my assailant a sharp crack over the forearm, which made
him leave go his hold. He stood for an instant fuming with rage and uncertain whether he
should not renew his attack. Then, with a snarl of anger, he left me and entered the
cottage from which I had just come. I turned to thank my preserver, who stood beside me in
Well, Watson, said he, a very pretty hash
you have made of it! I rather think you had better come back with me to London by the
An hour afterwards, Sherlock Holmes, in his usual garb and
style, was seated in my private room at the hotel. His explanation of his sudden and
opportune appearance was simplicity itself, for, finding that he could get away from
London, he determined to head me off at the next obvious point of my travels. In the
disguise of a workingman he had sat in the cabaret waiting for my appearance.
And a singularly consistent investigation you have made,
my dear Watson, said he. I cannot at the moment recall any possible blunder
which you have omitted. The total effect of your proceeding has been to give the alarm
everywhere and yet to discover nothing.
Perhaps you would have done no better, I answered
There is no perhaps about it. I have
done better. Here is the Hon. Philip Green, who is a fellow-lodger with you in this hotel,
and we may find him the starting-point for a more successful investigation.
A card had come up on a salver, and it was followed by the
same bearded ruffian who had attacked me in the street. He started when he saw me.
What is this, Mr. Holmes? he asked. I had
your note and I have come. But what has this man to do with the matter?
This is my old friend and associate, Dr. Watson, who is
helping us in this affair.
The stranger held out a huge, sunburned hand, with a few words
I hope I didnt harm you. When you accused me of
hurting her I lost my grip of myself. Indeed, Im not responsible in these days. My
nerves are like live wires. But this situation is beyond me. What I want to know, in the
first place, Mr. Holmes, is, how in the world you came to hear of my existence at
I am in touch with Miss Dobney, Lady Francess
Old Susan Dobney with the mob cap! I remember her
And she remembers you. It was in the days
beforebefore you found it better to go to South Africa.
Ah, I see you know my whole story. I need hide nothing
from you. I swear to you, Mr. Holmes, that there never was in this world a man who loved a
woman with a more wholehearted love than I had for Frances. I was a wild youngster, I  knownot worse than
others of my class. But her mind was pure as snow. She could not bear a shadow of
coarseness. So, when she came to hear of things that I had done, she would have no more to
say to me. And yet she loved methat is the wonder of it!loved me well enough
to remain single all her sainted days just for my sake alone. When the years had passed
and I had made my money at Barberton I thought perhaps I could seek her out and soften
her. I had heard that she was still unmarried. I found her at Lausanne and tried all I
knew. She weakened, I think, but her will was strong, and when next I called she had left
the town. I traced her to Baden, and then after a time heard that her maid was here.
Im a rough fellow, fresh from a rough life, and when Dr. Watson spoke to me as he
did I lost hold of myself for a moment. But for Gods sake tell me what has become of
the Lady Frances.
That is for us to find out, said Sherlock Holmes
with peculiar gravity. What is your London address, Mr. Green?
The Langham Hotel will find me.
Then may I recommend that you return there and be on
hand in case I should want you? I have no desire to encourage false hopes, but you may
rest assured that all that can be done will be done for the safety of Lady Frances. I can
say no more for the instant. I will leave you this card so that you may be able to keep in
touch with us. Now, Watson, if you will pack your bag I will cable to Mrs. Hudson to make
one of her best efforts for two hungry travellers at 7:30 to-morrow.
A telegram was awaiting us when we reached our Baker Street
rooms, which Holmes read with an exclamation of interest and threw across to me.
Jagged or torn, was the message, and the place of origin, Baden.
What is this? I asked.
It is everything, Holmes answered. You may
remember my seemingly irrelevant question as to this clerical gentlemans left ear.
You did not answer it.
I had left Baden and could not inquire.
Exactly. For this reason I sent a duplicate to the
manager of the Englischer Hof, whose answer lies here.
What does it show?
It shows, my dear Watson, that we are dealing with an
exceptionally astute and dangerous man. The Rev. Dr. Shlessinger, missionary from South
America, is none other than Holy Peters, one of the most unscrupulous rascals that
Australia has ever evolvedand for a young country it has turned out some very
finished types. His particular specialty is the beguiling of lonely ladies by playing upon
their religious feelings, and his so-called wife, an Englishwoman named Fraser, is a
worthy helpmate. The nature of his tactics suggested his identity to me, and this physical
peculiarityhe was badly bitten in a saloon-fight at Adelaide in
89confirmed my suspicion. This poor lady is in the hands of a most infernal
couple, who will stick at nothing, Watson. That she is already dead is a very likely
supposition. If not, she is undoubtedly in some sort of confinement and unable to write to
Miss Dobney or her other friends. It is always possible that she never reached London, or
that she has passed through it, but the former is improbable, as, with their system of
registration, it is not easy for foreigners to play tricks with the Continental police;
and the latter is also unlikely, as these rogues could not hope to find any other place
where it would be as easy to keep a person under restraint. All my instincts tell me that
she is in London, but as we have at present 
no possible means of telling where, we can only take the obvious steps, eat
our dinner, and possess our souls in patience. Later in the evening I will stroll down and
have a word with friend Lestrade at Scotland Yard.
But neither the official police nor Holmess own small
but very efficient organization sufficed to clear away the mystery. Amid the crowded
millions of London the three persons we sought were as completely obliterated as if they
had never lived. Advertisements were tried, and failed. Clues were followed, and led to
nothing. Every criminal resort which Shlessinger might frequent was drawn in vain. His old
associates were watched, but they kept clear of him. And then suddenly, after a week of
helpless suspense there came a flash of light. A silver-and-brilliant pendant of old
Spanish design had been pawned at Bovingtons, in Westminster Road. The pawner was a
large, clean-shaven man of clerical appearance. His name and address were demonstrably
false. The ear had escaped notice, but the description was surely that of Shlessinger.
Three times had our bearded friend from the Langham called for
newsthe third time within an hour of this fresh development. His clothes were
getting looser on his great body. He seemed to be wilting away in his anxiety. If
you will only give me something to do! was his constant wail. At last Holmes could
He has begun to pawn the jewels. We should get him
But does this mean that any harm has befallen the Lady
Holmes shook his head very gravely.
Supposing that they have held her prisoner up to now, it
is clear that they cannot let her loose without their own destruction. We must prepare for
What can I do?
These people do not know you by sight?
It is possible that he will go to some other pawnbroker
in the future. In that case, we must begin again. On the other hand, he has had a fair
price and no questions asked, so if he is in need of ready-money he will probably come
back to Bovingtons. I will give you a note to them, and they will let you wait in
the shop. If the fellow comes you will follow him home. But no indiscretion, and, above
all, no violence. I put you on your honour that you will take no step without my knowledge
For two days the Hon. Philip Green (he was, I may mention, the
son of the famous admiral of that name who commanded the Sea of Azof fleet in the Crimean
War) brought us no news. On the evening of the third he rushed into our sitting-room,
pale, trembling, with every muscle of his powerful frame quivering with excitement.
We have him! We have him! he cried.
He was incoherent in his agitation. Holmes soothed him with a
few words and thrust him into an armchair.
Come, now, give us the order of events, said he.
She came only an hour ago. It was the wife, this time,
but the pendant she brought was the fellow of the other. She is a tall, pale woman, with
That is the lady, said Holmes.
She left the office and I followed her. She walked up
the Kennington Road,  and
I kept behind her. Presently she went into a shop. Mr. Holmes, it was an
My companion started. Well? he asked in that
vibrant voice which told of the fiery soul behind the cold gray face.
She was talking to the woman behind the counter. I
entered as well. It is late, I heard her say, or words to that effect. The
woman was excusing herself. It should be there before now, she answered.
It took longer, being out of the ordinary. They both stopped and looked at me,
so I asked some question and then left the shop.
You did excellently well. What happened next?
The woman came out, but I had hid myself in a doorway.
Her suspicions had been aroused, I think, for she looked round her. Then she called a cab
and got in. I was lucky enough to get another and so to follow her. She got down at last
at No. 36, Poultney Square, Brixton. I drove past, left my cab at the corner of the
square, and watched the house.
Did you see anyone?
The windows were all in darkness save one on the lower
floor. The blind was down, and I could not see in. I was standing there, wondering what I
should do next, when a covered van drove up with two men in it. They descended, took
something out of the van, and carried it up the steps to the hall door. Mr. Holmes, it was
For an instant I was on the point of rushing in. The
door had been opened to admit the men and their burden. It was the woman who had opened
it. But as I stood there she caught a glimpse of me, and I think that she recognized me. I
saw her start, and she hastily closed the door. I remembered my promise to you, and here I
You have done excellent work, said Holmes
scribbling a few words upon a half-sheet of paper. We can do nothing legal without a
warrant, and you can serve the cause best by taking this note down to the authorities and
getting one. There may be some difficulty, but I should think that the sale of the
jewellery should be sufficient. Lestrade will see to all details.
But they may murder her in the meanwhile. What could the
coffin mean, and for whom could it be but for her?
We will do all that can be done, Mr. Green. Not a moment
will be lost. Leave it in our hands. Now, Watson, he added as our client hurried
away, he will set the regular forces on the move. We are, as usual, the irregulars,
and we must take our own line of action. The situation strikes me as so desperate that the
most extreme measures are justified. Not a moment is to be lost in getting to Poultney
Let us try to reconstruct the situation, said he
as we drove swiftly past the Houses of Parliament and over Westminster Bridge. These
villains have coaxed this unhappy lady to London, after first alienating her from her
faithful maid. If she has written any letters they have been intercepted. Through some
confederate they have engaged a furnished house. Once inside it, they have made her a
prisoner, and they have become possessed of the valuable jewellery which has been their
object from the first. Already they have begun to sell part of it, which seems safe enough
to them, since they have no reason to think that anyone is interested in the ladys
fate. When she is released she will, of course, denounce them.  Therefore, she must not be released. But they cannot
keep her under lock and key forever. So murder is their only solution.
That seems very clear.
Now we will take another line of reasoning. When you
follow two separate chains of thought, Watson, you will find some point of intersection
which should approximate to the truth. We will start now, not from the lady but from the
coffin and argue backward. That incident proves, I fear, beyond all doubt that the lady is
dead. It points also to an orthodox burial with proper accompaniment of medical
certificate and official sanction. Had the lady been obviously murdered, they would have
buried her in a hole in the back garden. But here all is open and regular. What does that
mean? Surely that they have done her to death in some way which has deceived the doctor
and simulated a natural endpoisoning, perhaps. And yet how strange that they should
ever let a doctor approach her unless he were a confederate, which is hardly a credible
Could they have forged a medical certificate?
Dangerous, Watson, very dangerous. No, I hardly see them
doing that. Pull up, cabby! This is evidently the undertakers, for we have just
passed the pawnbrokers. Would you go in, Watson? Your appearance inspires
confidence. Ask what hour the Poultney Square funeral takes place to-morrow.
The woman in the shop answered me without hesitation that it
was to be at eight oclock in the morning. You see, Watson, no mystery;
everything above-board! In some way the legal forms have undoubtedly been complied with,
and they think that they have little to fear. Well, theres nothing for it now but a
direct frontal attack. Are you armed?
Well, well, we shall be strong enough. Thrice is
he armed who hath his quarrel just. We simply cant afford to wait for the
police or to keep within the four corners of the law. You can drive off, cabby. Now,
Watson, well just take our luck together, as we have occasionally done in the
He had rung loudly at the door of a great dark house in the
centre of Poultney Square. It was opened immediately, and the figure of a tall woman was
outlined against the dim-lit hall.
Well, what do you want? she asked sharply, peering
at us through the darkness.
I want to speak to Dr. Shlessinger, said Holmes.
There is no such person here, she answered, and
tried to close the door, but Holmes had jammed it with his foot.
Well, I want to see the man who lives here, whatever he
may call himself, said Holmes firmly.
She hesitated. Then she threw open the door. Well, come
in! said she. My husband is not afraid to face any man in the world. She
closed the door behind us and showed us into a sitting-room on the right side of the hall,
turning up the gas as she left us. Mr. Peters will be with you in an instant,
Her words were literally true, for we had hardly time to look
around the dusty and moth-eaten apartment in which we found ourselves before the door
opened and a big, clean-shaven bald-headed man stepped lightly into the room. He had a
large red face, with pendulous cheeks, and a general air of superficial benevolence which
was marred by a cruel, vicious mouth.
There is surely some mistake here, gentlemen, he
said in an unctuous,  make-everything-easy
voice. I fancy that you have been misdirected. Possibly if you tried farther down
That will do; we have no time to waste, said my
companion firmly. You are Henry Peters, of Adelaide, late the Rev. Dr. Shlessinger,
of Baden and South America. I am as sure of that as that my own name is Sherlock
Peters, as I will now call him, started and stared hard at his
formidable pursuer. I guess your name does not frighten me, Mr. Holmes, said
he coolly. When a mans conscience is easy you cant rattle him. What is
your business in my house?
I want to know what you have done with the Lady Frances
Carfax, whom you brought away with you from Baden.
Id be very glad if you could tell me where that
lady may be, Peters answered coolly. Ive a bill against her for nearly a
hundred pounds, and nothing to show for it but a couple of trumpery pendants that the
dealer would hardly look at. She attached herself to Mrs. Peters and me at Badenit
is a fact that I was using another name at the timeand she stuck on to us until we
came to London. I paid her bill and her ticket. Once in London, she gave us the slip, and,
as I say, left these out-of-date jewels to pay her bills. You find her, Mr. Holmes, and
Im your debtor.
I mean to find her, said Sherlock Holmes.
Im going through this house till I do find her.
Where is your warrant?
Holmes half drew a revolver from his pocket. This
will have to serve till a better one comes.
Why, you are a common burglar.
So you might describe me, said Holmes cheerfully.
My companion is also a dangerous ruffian. And together we are going through your
Our opponent opened the door.
Fetch a policeman, Annie! said he. There was a
whisk of feminine skirts down the passage, and the hall door was opened and shut.
Our time is limited, Watson, said Holmes. If
you try to stop us, Peters, you will most certainly get hurt. Where is that coffin which
was brought into your house?
What do you want with the coffin? It is in use. There is
a body in it.
I must see that body.
Never with my consent.
Then without it. With a quick movement Holmes
pushed the fellow to one side and passed into the hall. A door half opened stood
immediately before us. We entered. It was the dining-room. On the table, under a half-lit
chandelier, the coffin was lying. Holmes turned up the gas and raised the lid. Deep down
in the recesses of the coffin lay an emaciated figure. The glare from the lights above
beat down upon an aged and withered face. By no possible process of cruelty, starvation,
or disease could this wornout wreck be the still beautiful Lady Frances. Holmess
face showed his amazement, and also his relief.
Thank God! he muttered. Its someone
Ah, youve blundered badly for once, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes, said Peters, who had followed us into the room.
Who is this dead woman?
Well, if you really must know, she is an old nurse of my
wifes, Rose Spender  by
name, whom we found in the Brixton Workhouse Infirmary. We brought her round here, called
in Dr. Horsom, of 13 Firbank Villasmind you take the address, Mr. Holmesand
had her carefully tended, as Christian folk should. On the third day she
diedcertificate says senile decaybut thats only the doctors
opinion, and of course you know better. We ordered her funeral to be carried out by
Stimson and Co., of the Kennington Road, who will bury her at eight oclock to-morrow
morning. Can you pick any hole in that, Mr. Holmes? Youve made a silly blunder, and
you may as well own up to it. Id give something for a photograph of your gaping,
staring face when you pulled aside that lid expecting to see the Lady Frances Carfax and
only found a poor old woman of ninety.
Holmess expression was as impassive as ever under the
jeers of his antagonist, but his clenched hands betrayed his acute annoyance.
I am going through your house, said he.
Are you, though! cried Peters as a womans
voice and heavy steps sounded in the passage. Well soon see about that. This
way, officers, if you please. These men have forced their way into my house, and I cannot
get rid of them. Help me to put them out.
A sergeant and a constable stood in the doorway. Holmes drew
his card from his case.
This is my name and address. This is my friend, Dr.
Bless you, sir, we know you very well, said the
sergeant, but you cant stay here without a warrant.
Of course not. I quite understand that.
Arrest him! cried Peters.
We know where to lay our hands on this gentleman if he
is wanted, said the sergeant majestically, but youll have to go, Mr.
Yes, Watson, we shall have to go.
A minute later we were in the street once more. Holmes was as
cool as ever, but I was hot with anger and humiliation. The sergeant had followed us.
Sorry, Mr. Holmes, but thats the law.
Exactly, Sergeant, you could not do otherwise.
I expect there was good reason for your presence there.
If there is anything I can do
Its a missing lady, Sergeant, and we think she is
in that house. I expect a warrant presently.
Then Ill keep my eye on the parties, Mr. Holmes.
If anything comes along, I will surely let you know.
It was only nine oclock, and we were off full cry upon
the trail at once. First we drove to Brixton Workhouse Infirmary, where we found that it
was indeed the truth that a charitable couple had called some days before, that they had
claimed an imbecile old woman as a former servant, and that they had obtained permission
to take her away with them. No surprise was expressed at the news that she had since died.
The doctor was our next goal. He had been called in, had found
the woman dying of pure senility, had actually seen her pass away, and had signed the
certificate in due form. I assure you that everything was perfectly normal and there
was no room for foul play in the matter, said he. Nothing in the house had struck
him as suspicious save that for people of their class it was remarkable that they should
have no servant. So far and no farther went the doctor.
we found our way to Scotland Yard. There had been difficulties of procedure in regard to
the warrant. Some delay was inevitable. The magistrates signature might not be
obtained until next morning. If Holmes would call about nine he could go down with
Lestrade and see it acted upon. So ended the day, save that near midnight our friend, the
sergeant, called to say that he had seen flickering lights here and there in the windows
of the great dark house, but that no one had left it and none had entered. We could but
pray for patience and wait for the morrow.
Sherlock Holmes was too irritable for conversation and too
restless for sleep. I left him smoking hard, with his heavy, dark brows knotted together,
and his long, nervous fingers tapping upon the arms of his chair, as he turned over in his
mind every possible solution of the mystery. Several times in the course of the night I
heard him prowling about the house. Finally, just after I had been called in the morning,
he rushed into my room. He was in his dressing-gown, but his pale, hollow-eyed face told
me that his night had been a sleepless one.
What time was the funeral? Eight, was it not? he
asked eagerly. Well, it is 7:20 now. Good heavens, Watson, what has become of any
brains that God has given me? Quick, man, quick! Its life or deatha hundred
chances on death to one on life. Ill never forgive myself, never, if we are too
Five minutes had not passed before we were flying in a hansom
down Baker Street. But even so it was twenty-five to eight as we passed Big Ben, and eight
struck as we tore down the Brixton Road. But others were late as well as we. Ten minutes
after the hour the hearse was still standing at the door of the house, and even as our
foaming horse came to a halt the coffin, supported by three men, appeared on the
threshold. Holmes darted forward and barred their way.
Take it back! he cried, laying his hand on the
breast of the foremost. Take it back this instant!
What the devil do you mean? Once again I ask you, where
is your warrant? shouted the furious Peters, his big red face glaring over the
farther end of the coffin.
The warrant is on its way. This coffin shall remain in
the house until it comes.
The authority in Holmess voice had its effect upon the
bearers. Peters had suddenly vanished into the house, and they obeyed these new orders.
Quick, Watson, quick! Here is a screw-driver! he shouted as the coffin was
replaced upon the table. Heres one for you, my man! A sovereign if the lid
comes off in a minute! Ask no questionswork away! Thats good! Another! And
another! Now pull all together! Its giving! Its giving! Ah, that does it at
With a united effort we tore off the coffin-lid. As we did so
there came from the inside a stupefying and overpowering smell of chloroform. A body lay
within, its head all wreathed in cotton-wool, which had been soaked in the narcotic.
Holmes plucked it off and disclosed the statuesque face of a handsome and spiritual woman
of middle age. In an instant he had passed his arm round the figure and raised her to a
Is she gone, Watson? Is there a spark left? Surely we
are not too late!
For half an hour it seemed that we were. What with actual
suffocation, and what with the poisonous fumes of the chloroform, the Lady Frances seemed
to have passed the last point of recall. And then, at last, with artificial respiration,
with injected ether, with every device that science could suggest, some flutter of life,
some quiver of the eyelids, some dimming of a mirror, spoke of the slowly  returning life. A cab had
driven up, and Holmes, parting the blind, looked out at it. Here is Lestrade with
his warrant, said he. He will find that his birds have flown. And here,
he added as a heavy step hurried along the passage, is someone who has a better
right to nurse this lady than we have. Good morning, Mr. Green; I think that the sooner we
can move the Lady Frances the better. Meanwhile, the funeral may proceed, and the poor old
woman who still lies in that coffin may go to her last resting-place alone.
Should you care to add the case to your annals, my
dear Watson, said Holmes that evening, it can only be as an example of that
temporary eclipse to which even the best-balanced mind may be exposed. Such slips are
common to all mortals, and the greatest is he who can recognize and repair them. To this
modified credit I may, perhaps, make some claim. My night was haunted by the thought that
somewhere a clue, a strange sentence, a curious observation, had come under my notice and
had been too easily dismissed. Then, suddenly, in the gray of the morning, the words came
back to me. It was the remark of the undertakers wife, as reported by Philip Green.
She had said, It should be there before now. It took longer, being out of the
ordinary. It was the coffin of which she spoke. It had been out of the ordinary.
That could only mean that it had been made to some special measurement. But why? Why? Then
in an instant I remembered the deep sides, and the little wasted figure at the bottom. Why
so large a coffin for so small a body? To leave room for another body. Both would be
buried under the one certificate. It had all been so clear, if only my own sight had not
been dimmed. At eight the Lady Frances would be buried. Our one chance was to stop the
coffin before it left the house.
It was a desperate chance that we might find her alive,
but it was a chance, as the result showed. These people had never, to my knowledge, done a
murder. They might shrink from actual violence at the last. They could bury her with no
sign of how she met her end, and even if she were exhumed there was a chance for them. I
hoped that such considerations might prevail with them. You can reconstruct the scene well
enough. You saw the horrible den upstairs, where the poor lady had been kept so long. They
rushed in and overpowered her with their chloroform, carried her down, poured more into
the coffin to insure against her waking, and then screwed down the lid. A clever device,
Watson. It is new to me in the annals of crime. If our ex-missionary friends escape the
clutches of Lestrade, I shall expect to hear of some brilliant incidents in their future