All these details I observed afterwards. At present my
attention was centred upon the single, grim, motionless figure which lay stretched upon
the boards, with vacant, sightless eyes staring up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that
of a man about forty-three or forty-four years of age, middle-sized, broad-shouldered,
with crisp curling black hair, and a short, stubbly beard. He was dressed in a heavy
broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat, with light-coloured trousers, and immaculate collar
and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed and trim, was placed upon the floor beside him. His
hands were clenched and his arms thrown abroad, while his lower limbs were interlocked, as
though his death struggle had been a grievous one. On his rigid face there stood an
expression of horror, and, as it seemed to me, of hatred, such as I have never seen upon
human features. This malignant and terrible contortion, combined with the low forehead,
blunt nose, and prognathous jaw, gave the dead man a singularly simious and ape-like
appearance, which was increased by his writhing, unnatural posture. I have seen death in
many forms, but never has it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark,
grimy apartment, which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban London.
Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the
doorway, and greeted my companion and myself.
This case will make a stir, sir, he remarked.
It beats anything I have seen, and I am no chicken.
There is no clue? said Gregson.
None at all, chimed in Lestrade.
Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down,
examined it intently. You are sure that there is no wound? he asked, pointing
to numerous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all round.
Positive! cried both detectives.
Then, of course, this blood belongs to a second
individualpresumably the murderer, if murder has been committed. It reminds me of
the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year 34.
Do you remember the case, Gregson?
Read it upyou really should. There is nothing new
under the sun. It has all been done before.
As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and
everywhere, feeling, pressing, unbuttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the same
far-away expression which I have already remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination
made, that one would hardly have guessed the minuteness with which it was conducted.
Finally, he sniffed the dead mans lips, and then glanced at the soles of his patent
He has not been moved at all? he asked.
No more than was necessary for the purpose of our
You can take him to the mortuary now, he said.
There is nothing more to be learned.
Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. At his call they
entered the room, and the stranger was lifted and carried out. As they raised him, a ring
tinkled down and rolled across the floor. Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with
been a woman here, he cried. Its a womans wedding ring.
He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of his hand. We all
gathered round him and gazed at it. There could be no doubt that that circlet of plain
gold had once adorned the finger of a bride.
This complicates matters, said Gregson.
Heaven knows, they were complicated enough before.
Youre sure it doesnt simplify them?
observed Holmes. Theres nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you
find in his pockets?
We have it all here, said Gregson, pointing to a
litter of objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs. A gold watch, No.
97163, by Barraud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy and solid. Gold ring, with
masonic device. Gold pinbull-dogs head, with rubies as eyes. Russian leather
cardcase, with cards of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland, corresponding with the E. J. D.
upon the linen. No purse, but loose money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket
edition of Boccaccios Decameron, with name of Joseph Stangerson upon the
flyleaf. Two lettersone addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph
At what address?
American Exchange, Strandto be left till called
for. They are both from the Guion Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of their
boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this unfortunate man was about to return to New
Have you made any inquiries as to this man
I did it at once, sir, said Gregson. I have
had advertisements sent to all the newspapers, and one of my men has gone to the American
Exchange, but he has not returned yet.
Have you sent to Cleveland?
We telegraphed this morning.
How did you word your inquiries?
We simply detailed the circumstances, and said that we
should be glad of any information which could help us.
You did not ask for particulars on any point which
appeared to you to be crucial?
I asked about Stangerson.
Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on which this
whole case appears to hinge? Will you not telegraph again?
I have said all I have to say, said Gregson, in an
Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and appeared to be about
to make some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the front room while we were holding
this conversation in the hall, reappeared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a pompous
and self-satisfied manner.
Mr. Gregson, he said, I have just made a
discovery of the highest importance, and one which would have been overlooked had I not
made a careful examination of the walls.
The little mans eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was
evidently in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point against his
Come here, he said, bustling back into the room,
the atmosphere of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly inmate. Now,
He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall.
Look at that! he said, triumphantly.
I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In
this particular corner 
of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering.
Across this bare space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word
What do you think of that? cried the detective,
with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. This was overlooked because it was in
the darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there. The murderer has
written it with his or her own blood. See this smear where it has trickled down the wall!
That disposes of the idea of suicide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I
will tell you. See that candle on the mantelpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was
lit this corner would be the brightest instead of the darkest portion of the wall.
And what does it mean now that you have found
it? asked Gregson in a depreciatory voice.
Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the
female name Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time to finish. You mark my
words, when this case comes to be cleared up, you will find that a woman named Rachel has
something to do with it. Its all very well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
You may be very smart and clever, but the old hound is the best, when all is said and
I really beg your pardon! said my companion, who
had ruffled the little mans temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter.
You certainly have the credit of being the first of us to find this out and, as you
say, it bears every mark of having been written by the other participant in last
nights mystery. I have not had time to examine this room yet, but with your
permission I shall do so now.
As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round
magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he trotted noiselessly about
the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So
engrossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for
he chattered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire of
exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of encouragement and of hope.
As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as
it dashes backward and forward through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it
comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he continued his researches,
measuring with the most exact care the distance between marks which were entirely
invisible to me, and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally
incomprehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of gray
dust from the floor, and packed it away in an envelope. Finally he examined with his glass
the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness. This
done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his glass in his pocket.
They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking
pains, he remarked with a smile. Its a very bad definition, but it does
apply to detective work.
Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres of their
amateur companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt. They evidently failed to
appreciate the fact, which I had begun to realize, that Sherlock Holmess smallest
actions were all directed towards some definite and practical end.
What do you think of it, sir? they both asked.
It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I
were to presume to help 
you, remarked my friend. You are doing so well now that it would be a pity for
anyone to interfere. There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. If
you will let me know how your investigations go, he continued, I shall be
happy to give you any help I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the constable
who found the body. Can you give me his name and address?
Lestrade glanced at his notebook. John Rance, he
said. He is off duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park
Holmes took a note of the address.
Come along, Doctor, he said: we shall go and
look him up. Ill tell you one thing which may help you in the case, he
continued, turning to the two detectives. There has been murder done, and the
murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small
feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He
came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old
shoes and one new one on his off fore-leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid
face, and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a few
indications, but they may assist you.
Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous
If this man was murdered, how was it done? asked
Poison, said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode
off. One other thing, Lestrade, he added, turning round at the door:
Rache, is the German for revenge; so dont lose your
time looking for Miss Rachel.
With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two
rivals open mouthed behind him.