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A Case of Identity

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A Case of Identity

y dear fellow, said Sherlock Holmes as occur to the imagination of the average story-teller.
we sat on either side of the fire in his Take a pinch of snuff, Doctor, and acknowledge
lodgings at Baker Street, life is infinitely that I have scored over you in your example.
stranger than anything which the mind He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a
of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive great amethyst in the centre of the lid. Its splen-
the things which are really mere commonplaces of dour was in such contrast to his homely ways and
existence. If we could fly out of that window hand simple life that I could not help commenting upon
in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove it.
the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are Ah, said he, I forgot that I had not seen you
going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, for some weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King
the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, of Bohemia in return for my assistance in the case
working through generations, and leading to the of the Irene Adler papers.
most outre results, it would make all fiction with
And the ring? I asked, glancing at a remark-
its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most
able brilliant which sparkled upon his finger.
stale and unprofitable.
It was from the reigning family of Holland,
And yet I am not convinced of it, I answered. though the matter in which I served them was of
The cases which come to light in the papers are, as such delicacy that I cannot confide it even to you,
a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We have who have been good enough to chronicle one or
in our police reports realism pushed to its extreme two of my little problems.
limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed,
And have you any on hand just now? I asked
neither fascinating nor artistic.
with interest.
A certain selection and discretion must be used Some ten or twelve, but none which present
in producing a realistic effect, remarked Holmes. any feature of interest. They are important, you
This is wanting in the police report, where more understand, without being interesting. Indeed, I
stress is laid, perhaps, upon the platitudes of the have found that it is usually in unimportant mat-
magistrate than upon the details, which to an ob- ters that there is a field for the observation, and for
server contain the vital essence of the whole matter. the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives
Depend upon it, there is nothing so unnatural as the charm to an investigation. The larger crimes
the commonplace. are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime
I smiled and shook my head. I can quite un- the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In these
derstand your thinking so. I said. Of course, in cases, save for one rather intricate matter which
your position of unofficial adviser and helper to has been referred to me from Marseilles, there is
everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout nothing which presents any features of interest. It
three continents, you are brought in contact with is possible, however, that I may have something
all that is strange and bizarre. But hereI picked better before very many minutes are over, for this
up the morning paper from the groundlet us is one of my clients, or I am much mistaken.
put it to a practical test. Here is the first heading He had risen from his chair and was standing
upon which I come. A husbands cruelty to his between the parted blinds gazing down into the
wife. There is half a column of print, but I know dull neutral-tinted London street. Looking over
without reading it that it is all perfectly familiar to his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite
me. There is, of course, the other woman, the drink, there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa
the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympathetic sis- round her neck, and a large curling red feather in
ter or landlady. The crudest of writers could invent a broad-brimmed hat which was tilted in a coquet-
nothing more crude. tish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her ear.
Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one From under this great panoply she peeped up in a
for your argument, said Holmes, taking the paper nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, while
and glancing his eye down it. This is the Dundas her body oscillated backward and forward, and her
separation case, and, as it happens, I was engaged fingers fidgeted with her glove buttons. Suddenly,
in clearing up some small points in connection with with a plunge, as of the swimmer who leaves the
it. The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard
woman, and the conduct complained of was that he the sharp clang of the bell.
had drifted into the habit of winding up every meal I have seen those symptoms before, said
by taking out his false teeth and hurling them at his Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the fire. Oscil-
wife, which, you will allow, is not an action likely to lation upon the pavement always means an affaire

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A Case of Identity

de coeur. She would like advice, but is not sure that Your father, said Holmes, your stepfather,
the matter is not too delicate for communication. surely, since the name is different.
And yet even here we may discriminate. When a Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though it
woman has been seriously wronged by a man she sounds funny, too, for he is only five years and two
no longer oscillates, and the usual symptom is a months older than myself.
broken bell wire. Here we may take it that there is And your mother is alive?
a love matter, but that the maiden is not so much
Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasnt
angry as perplexed, or grieved. But here she comes
best pleased, Mr. Holmes, when she married again
in person to resolve our doubts.
so soon after fathers death, and a man who was
As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and nearly fifteen years younger than herself. Father
the boy in buttons entered to announce Miss Mary was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and
Sutherland, while the lady herself loomed behind he left a tidy business behind him, which mother
his small black figure like a full-sailed merchant- carried on with Mr. Hardy, the foreman; but when
man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the business,
welcomed her with the easy courtesy for which he for he was very superior, being a traveller in wines.
was remarkable, and, having closed the door and They got 4700 for the goodwill and interest, which
bowed her into an armchair, he looked her over in wasnt near as much as father could have got if he
the minute and yet abstracted fashion which was had been alive.
peculiar to him. I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impa-
Do you not find, he said, that with your short tient under this rambling and inconsequential nar-
sight it is a little trying to do so much typewriting? rative, but, on the contrary, he had listened with
the greatest concentration of attention.
I did at first, she answered, but now I know
where the letters are without looking. Then, sud- Your own little income, he asked, does it
denly realising the full purport of his words, she come out of the business?
gave a violent start and looked up, with fear and as- Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left
tonishment upon her broad, good-humoured face. me by my uncle Ned in Auckland. It is in New
Youve heard about me, Mr. Holmes, she cried, Zealand stock, paying 41/2 per cent. Two thousand
else how could you know all that? five hundred pounds was the amount, but I can
only touch the interest.
Never mind, said Holmes, laughing; it is my
business to know things. Perhaps I have trained You interest me extremely, said Holmes.
myself to see what others overlook. If not, why And since you draw so large a sum as a hundred
should you come to consult me? a year, with what you earn into the bargain, you no
doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in every
I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from way. I believe that a single lady can get on very
Mrs. Etherege, whose husband you found so easy nicely upon an income of about 60.
when the police and everyone had given him up I could do with much less than that, Mr.
for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do Holmes, but you understand that as long as I live
as much for me. Im not rich, but still I have a at home I dont wish to be a burden to them, and
hundred a year in my own right, besides the little so they have the use of the money just while I am
that I make by the machine, and I would give it all staying with them. Of course, that is only just for
to know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel. the time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every
Why did you come away to consult me in such quarter and pays it over to mother, and I find that I
a hurry? asked Sherlock Holmes, with his finger- can do pretty well with what I earn at typewriting.
tips together and his eyes to the ceiling. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do
Again a startled look came over the somewhat from fifteen to twenty sheets in a day.
vacuous face of Miss Mary Sutherland. Yes, You have made your position very clear to me,
I did bang out of the house, she said, for it said Holmes. This is my friend, Dr. Watson, be-
made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr. fore whom you can speak as freely as before myself.
Windibankthat is, my fathertook it all. He Kindly tell us now all about your connection with
would not go to the police, and he would not go Mr. Hosmer Angel.
to you, and so at last, as he would do nothing and A flush stole over Miss Sutherlands face, and
kept on saying that there was no harm done, it she picked nervously at the fringe of her jacket.
made me mad, and I just on with my things and I met him first at the gasfitters ball, she said.
came right away to you. They used to send father tickets when he was alive,

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A Case of Identity

and then afterwards they remembered us, and sent What office?
them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us Thats the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I dont
to go. He never did wish us to go anywhere. He know.
would get quite mad if I wanted so much as to join
Where did he live, then?
a Sunday-school treat. But this time I was set on
going, and I would go; for what right had he to He slept on the premises.
prevent? He said the folk were not fit for us to And you dont know his address?
know, when all fathers friends were to be there. Noexcept that it was Leadenhall Street.
And he said that I had nothing fit to wear, when I Where did you address your letters, then?
had my purple plush that I had never so much as
taken out of the drawer. At last, when nothing else To the Leadenhall Street Post Office, to be left
would do, he went off to France upon the business till called for. He said that if they were sent to the
of the firm, but we went, mother and I, with Mr. office he would be chaffed by all the other clerks
Hardy, who used to be our foreman, and it was about having letters from a lady, so I offered to
there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel. typewrite them, like he did his, but he wouldnt
have that, for he said that when I wrote them they
I suppose, said Holmes, that when Mr. seemed to come from me, but when they were type-
Windibank came back from France he was very written he always felt that the machine had come
annoyed at your having gone to the ball. between us. That will just show you how fond he
Oh, well, he was very good about it. He was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the little things that he
laughed, I remember, and shrugged his shoulders, would think of.
and said there was no use denying anything to a It was most suggestive, said Holmes. It has
woman, for she would have her way. long been an axiom of mine that the little things are
I see. Then at the gasfitters ball you met, as infinitely the most important. Can you remember
I understand, a gentleman called Mr. Hosmer An- any other little things about Mr. Hosmer Angel?
gel. He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would
Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called rather walk with me in the evening than in the day-
next day to ask if we had got home all safe, and light, for he said that he hated to be conspicuous.
after that we met himthat is to say, Mr. Holmes, I Very retiring and gentlemanly he was. Even his
met him twice for walks, but after that father came voice was gentle. Hed had the quinsy and swollen
back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come glands when he was young, he told me, and it
to the house any more. had left him with a weak throat, and a hesitating,
whispering fashion of speech. He was always well
No? dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes were
Well, you know father didnt like anything of weak, just as mine are, and he wore tinted glasses
the sort. He wouldnt have any visitors if he could against the glare.
help it, and he used to say that a woman should be Well, and what happened when Mr.
happy in her own family circle. But then, as I used Windibank, your stepfather, returned to France?
to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle to Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again
begin with, and I had not got mine yet. and proposed that we should marry before father
But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made
make no attempt to see you? me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that
Well, father was going off to France again in whatever happened I would always be true to him.
a week, and Hosmer wrote and said that it would Mother said he was quite right to make me swear,
be safer and better not to see each other until he and that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was
had gone. We could write in the meantime, and he all in his favour from the first and was even fonder
used to write every day. I took the letters in in the of him than I was. Then, when they talked of mar-
morning, so there was no need for father to know. rying within the week, I began to ask about father;
but they both said never to mind about father, but
Were you engaged to the gentleman at this just to tell him afterwards, and mother said she
time? would make it all right with him. I didnt quite like
Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged af- that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that I should
ter the first walk that we took. HosmerMr. ask his leave, as he was only a few years older than
Angelwas a cashier in an office in Leadenhall me; but I didnt want to do anything on the sly, so
Streetand I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the company

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A Case of Identity

has its French offices, but the letter came back to Hosmer again. As he said, what interest could any-
me on the very morning of the wedding. one have in bringing me to the doors of the church,
It missed him, then? and then leaving me? Now, if he had borrowed
my money, or if he had married me and got my
Yes, sir; for he had started to England just money settled on him, there might be some reason,
before it arrived. but Hosmer was very independent about money
Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was and never would look at a shilling of mine. And
arranged, then, for the Friday. Was it to be in yet, what could have happened? And why could
church? he not write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to think
Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. of it, and I cant sleep a wink at night. She pulled
Saviours, near Kings Cross, and we were to have a little handkerchief out of her muff and began to
breakfast afterwards at the St. Pancras Hotel. Hos- sob heavily into it.
mer came for us in a hansom, but as there were two I shall glance into the case for you, said
of us he put us both into it and stepped himself Holmes, rising, and I have no doubt that we shall
into a four-wheeler, which happened to be the only reach some definite result. Let the weight of the
other cab in the street. We got to the church first, matter rest upon me now, and do not let your mind
and when the four-wheeler drove up we waited for dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hos-
him to step out, but he never did, and when the mer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has
cabman got down from the box and looked there done from your life.
was no one there! The cabman said that he could Then you dont think Ill see him again?
not imagine what had become of him, for he had I fear not.
seen him get in with his own eyes. That was last Then what has happened to him?
Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen or heard You will leave that question in my hands. I
anything since then to throw any light upon what should like an accurate description of him and any
became of him. letters of his which you can spare.
It seems to me that you have been very shame- I advertised for him in last Saturdays Chron-
fully treated, said Holmes. icle, said she. Here is the slip and here are four
Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to leave letters from him.
me so. Why, all the morning he was saying to me Thank you. And your address?
that, whatever happened, I was to be true; and No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell.
that even if something quite unforeseen occurred Mr. Angels address you never had, I under-
to separate us, I was always to remember that I stand. Where is your fathers place of business?
was pledged to him, and that he would claim his He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great
pledge sooner or later. It seemed strange talk for claret importers of Fenchurch Street.
a wedding-morning, but what has happened since Thank you. You have made your statement
gives a meaning to it. very clearly. You will leave the papers here, and
Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, remember the advice which I have given you. Let
then, that some unforeseen catastrophe has oc- the whole incident be a sealed book, and do not
curred to him? allow it to affect your life.
Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some danger, You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot
or else he would not have talked so. And then I do that. I shall be true to Hosmer. He shall find me
think that what he foresaw happened. ready when he comes back.
For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous
But you have no notion as to what it could
face, there was something noble in the simple faith
have been?
of our visitor which compelled our respect. She laid
None. her little bundle of papers upon the table and went
One more question. How did your mother her way, with a promise to come again whenever
take the matter? she might be summoned.
She was angry, and said that I was never to Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes
speak of the matter again. with his fingertips still pressed together, his legs
stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed
And your father? Did you tell him? upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from the
Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as
something had happened, and that I should hear of a counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in his

36
A Case of Identity

chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning a remark upon short sight and typewriting, which
up from him, and a look of infinite languor in his seemed to surprise her.
face. It surprised me.
Quite an interesting study, that maiden, he But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much
observed. I found her more interesting than her surprised and interested on glancing down to ob-
little problem, which, by the way, is rather a trite serve that, though the boots which she was wearing
one. You will find parallel cases, if you consult my were not unlike each other, they were really odd
index, in Andover in 77, and there was something ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe-cap,
of the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the and the other a plain one. One was buttoned only
idea, however, there were one or two details which in the two lower buttons out of five, and the other
were new to me. But the maiden herself was most at the first, third, and fifth. Now, when you see that
instructive. a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed, has come
You appeared to read a good deal upon her away from home with odd boots, half-buttoned, it
which was quite invisible to me, I remarked. is no great deduction to say that she came away in
a hurry.
Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did
not know where to look, and so you missed all And what else? I asked, keenly interested, as
that was important. I can never bring you to re- I always was, by my friends incisive reasoning.
alise the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness I noted, in passing, that she had written a note
of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang before leaving home but after being fully dressed.
from a boot-lace. Now, what did you gather from You observed that her right glove was torn at the
that womans appearance? Describe it. forefinger, but you did not apparently see that both
Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad-brimmed glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She
straw hat, with a feather of a brickish red. Her had written in a hurry and dipped her pen too
jacket was black, with black beads sewn upon it, deep. It must have been this morning, or the mark
and a fringe of little black jet ornaments. Her dress would not remain clear upon the finger. All this is
was brown, rather darker than coffee colour, with amusing, though rather elementary, but I must go
a little purple plush at the neck and sleeves. Her back to business, Watson. Would you mind read-
gloves were greyish and were worn through at the ing me the advertised description of Mr. Hosmer
right forefinger. Her boots I didnt observe. She Angel?
had small round, hanging gold earrings, and a I held the little printed slip to the light.
general air of being fairly well-to-do in a vulgar,
comfortable, easy-going way. Missing, it said, on the morning
of the fourteenth, a gentleman named
Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly to- Hosmer Angel. About five ft. seven in.
gether and chuckled. in height; strongly built, sallow com-
Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along plexion, black hair, a little bald in the
wonderfully. You have really done very well in- centre, bushy, black side-whiskers and
deed. It is true that you have missed everything moustache; tinted glasses, slight infir-
of importance, but you have hit upon the method, mity of speech. Was dressed, when
and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust last seen, in black frock-coat faced with
to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert chain,
yourself upon details. My first glance is always at and grey Harris tweed trousers, with
a womans sleeve. In a man it is perhaps better brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots.
first to take the knee of the trouser. As you observe, Known to have been employed in an
this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which office in Leadenhall Street. Anybody
is a most useful material for showing traces. The bringing
double line a little above the wrist, where the type-
writist presses against the table, was beautifully That will do, said Holmes. As to the letters,
defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand type, he continued, glancing over them, they are very
leaves a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and commonplace. Absolutely no clue in them to Mr.
on the side of it farthest from the thumb, instead Angel, save that he quotes Balzac once. There is one
of being right across the broadest part, as this was. remarkable point, however, which will no doubt
I then glanced at her face, and, observing the dint strike you.
of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I ventured They are typewritten, I remarked.

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A Case of Identity

Not only that, but the signature is typewritten. spent his day in the chemical work which was so
Look at the neat little Hosmer Angel at the bottom. dear to him.
There is a date, you see, but no superscription ex- Well, have you solved it? I asked as I entered.
cept Leadenhall Street, which is rather vague. The Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta.
point about the signature is very suggestivein No, no, the mystery! I cried.
fact, we may call it conclusive.
Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have been
Of what? working upon. There was never any mystery in
My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see the matter, though, as I said yesterday, some of the
how strongly it bears upon the case? details are of interest. The only drawback is that
there is no law, I fear, that can touch the scoundrel.
I cannot say that I do unless it were that he
Who was he, then, and what was his object in
wished to be able to deny his signature if an action
deserting Miss Sutherland?
for breach of promise were instituted.
The question was hardly out of my mouth, and
No, that was not the point. However, I shall Holmes had not yet opened his lips to reply, when
write two letters, which should settle the matter. we heard a heavy footfall in the passage and a tap
One is to a firm in the City, the other is to the at the door.
young ladys stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking This is the girls stepfather, Mr. James
him whether he could meet us here at six oclock Windibank, said Holmes. He has written to me
tomorrow evening. It is just as well that we should to say that he would be here at six. Come in!
do business with the male relatives. And now, Doc-
The man who entered was a sturdy, middle-
tor, we can do nothing until the answers to those
sized fellow, some thirty years of age, clean-shaven,
letters come, so we may put our little problem upon
and sallow-skinned, with a bland, insinuating man-
the shelf for the interim.
ner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp and penetrat-
I had had so many reasons to believe in my ing grey eyes. He shot a questioning glance at each
friends subtle powers of reasoning and extraordi- of us, placed his shiny top-hat upon the sideboard,
nary energy in action that I felt that he must have and with a slight bow sidled down into the nearest
some solid grounds for the assured and easy de- chair.
meanour with which he treated the singular mys- Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank, said
tery which he had been called upon to fathom. Holmes. I think that this typewritten letter is from
Once only had I known him to fail, in the case you, in which you made an appointment with me
of the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler for six oclock?
photograph; but when I looked back to the weird Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I
business of the Sign of Four, and the extraordinary am not quite my own master, you know. I am sorry
circumstances connected with the Study in Scarlet, that Miss Sutherland has troubled you about this
I felt that it would be a strange tangle indeed which little matter, for I think it is far better not to wash
he could not unravel. linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my
I left him then, still puffing at his black clay wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable,
pipe, with the conviction that when I came again impulsive girl, as you may have noticed, and she
on the next evening I would find that he held in is not easily controlled when she has made up her
his hands all the clues which would lead up to the mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind you
identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss so much, as you are not connected with the offi-
Mary Sutherland. cial police, but it is not pleasant to have a family
A professional case of great gravity was engag- misfortune like this noised abroad. Besides, it is a
ing my own attention at the time, and the whole of useless expense, for how could you possibly find
next day I was busy at the bedside of the sufferer. this Hosmer Angel?
It was not until close upon six oclock that I found On the contrary, said Holmes quietly; I have
myself free and was able to spring into a hansom every reason to believe that I will succeed in dis-
and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might covering Mr. Hosmer Angel.
be too late to assist at the denouement of the little Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and dropped
mystery. I found Sherlock Holmes alone, however, his gloves. I am delighted to hear it, he said.
half asleep, with his long, thin form curled up in It is a curious thing, remarked Holmes, that
the recesses of his armchair. A formidable array a typewriter has really quite as much individuality
of bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent cleanly as a mans handwriting. Unless they are quite new,
smell of hydrochloric acid, told me that he had no two of them write exactly alike. Some letters get

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A Case of Identity

more worn than others, and some wear only on one in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as
side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. it seemed, than to us.
Windibank, that in every case there is some little The man married a woman very much older
slurring over of the e, and a slight defect in the tail than himself for her money, said he, and he en-
of the r. There are fourteen other characteristics, joyed the use of the money of the daughter as long
but those are the more obvious. as she lived with them. It was a considerable sum,
We do all our correspondence with this ma- for people in their position, and the loss of it would
chine at the office, and no doubt it is a little worn, have made a serious difference. It was worth an
our visitor answered, glancing keenly at Holmes effort to preserve it. The daughter was of a good,
with his bright little eyes. amiable disposition, but affectionate and warm-
hearted in her ways, so that it was evident that
And now I will show you what is really a very with her fair personal advantages, and her little
interesting study, Mr. Windibank, Holmes contin- income, she would not be allowed to remain single
ued. I think of writing another little monograph long. Now her marriage would mean, of course,
some of these days on the typewriter and its rela- the loss of a hundred a year, so what does her
tion to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted stepfather do to prevent it? He takes the obvious
some little attention. I have here four letters which course of keeping her at home and forbidding her
purport to come from the missing man. They are to seek the company of people of her own age. But
all typewritten. In each case, not only are the es soon he found that that would not answer forever.
slurred and the rs tailless, but you will observe, if She became restive, insisted upon her rights, and
you care to use my magnifying lens, that the four- finally announced her positive intention of going
teen other characteristics to which I have alluded to a certain ball. What does her clever stepfather
are there as well. do then? He conceives an idea more creditable to
Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and his head than to his heart. With the connivance and
picked up his hat. I cannot waste time over this assistance of his wife he disguised himself, cov-
sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes, he said. If you ered those keen eyes with tinted glasses, masked
can catch the man, catch him, and let me know the face with a moustache and a pair of bushy
when you have done it. whiskers, sunk that clear voice into an insinuating
Certainly, said Holmes, stepping over and whisper, and doubly secure on account of the girls
turning the key in the door. I let you know, then, short sight, he appears as Mr. Hosmer Angel, and
that I have caught him! keeps off other lovers by making love himself.
It was only a joke at first, groaned our visitor.
What! where? shouted Mr. Windibank, turn- We never thought that she would have been so
ing white to his lips and glancing about him like a carried away.
rat in a trap.
Very likely not. However that may be, the
Oh, it wont doreally it wont, said Holmes young lady was very decidedly carried away, and,
suavely. There is no possible getting out of it, Mr. having quite made up her mind that her stepfather
Windibank. It is quite too transparent, and it was was in France, the suspicion of treachery never for
a very bad compliment when you said that it was an instant entered her mind. She was flattered by
impossible for me to solve so simple a question. the gentlemans attentions, and the effect was in-
Thats right! Sit down and let us talk it over. creased by the loudly expressed admiration of her
Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a ghastly mother. Then Mr. Angel began to call, for it was
face and a glitter of moisture on his brow. Itits obvious that the matter should be pushed as far
not actionable, he stammered. as it would go if a real effect were to be produced.
There were meetings, and an engagement, which
I am very much afraid that it is not. But be- would finally secure the girls affections from turn-
tween ourselves, Windibank, it was as cruel and ing towards anyone else. But the deception could
selfish and heartless a trick in a petty way as ever not be kept up forever. These pretended journeys
came before me. Now, let me just run over the to France were rather cumbrous. The thing to do
course of events, and you will contradict me if I go was clearly to bring the business to an end in such
wrong. a dramatic manner that it would leave a perma-
The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his nent impression upon the young ladys mind and
head sunk upon his breast, like one who is utterly prevent her from looking upon any other suitor
crushed. Holmes stuck his feet up on the corner of for some time to come. Hence those vows of fi-
the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands delity exacted upon a Testament, and hence also

39
A Case of Identity

the allusions to a possibility of something happen- I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your
ing on the very morning of the wedding. James reasoning, I remarked.
Windibank wished Miss Sutherland to be so bound Well, of course it was obvious from the first
to Hosmer Angel, and so uncertain as to his fate, that this Mr. Hosmer Angel must have some strong
that for ten years to come, at any rate, she would object for his curious conduct, and it was equally
not listen to another man. As far as the church door clear that the only man who really profited by the
he brought her, and then, as he could go no farther, incident, as far as we could see, was the stepfather.
he conveniently vanished away by the old trick of Then the fact that the two men were never together,
stepping in at one door of a four-wheeler and out but that the one always appeared when the other
at the other. I think that was the chain of events, was away, was suggestive. So were the tinted spec-
Mr. Windibank! tacles and the curious voice, which both hinted at a
Our visitor had recovered something of his as- disguise, as did the bushy whiskers. My suspicions
surance while Holmes had been talking, and he were all confirmed by his peculiar action in type-
rose from his chair now with a cold sneer upon his writing his signature, which, of course, inferred
pale face. that his handwriting was so familiar to her that
she would recognise even the smallest sample of it.
It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes, said
You see all these isolated facts, together with many
he, but if you are so very sharp you ought to be
minor ones, all pointed in the same direction.
sharp enough to know that it is you who are break-
ing the law now, and not me. I have done nothing And how did you verify them?
actionable from the first, but as long as you keep Having once spotted my man, it was easy to
that door locked you lay yourself open to an action get corroboration. I knew the firm for which this
for assault and illegal constraint. man worked. Having taken the printed description,
The law cannot, as you say, touch you, said I eliminated everything from it which could be the
Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door, result of a disguisethe whiskers, the glasses, the
yet there never was a man who deserved punish- voice, and I sent it to the firm, with a request that
ment more. If the young lady has a brother or a they would inform me whether it answered to the
friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoul- description of any of their travellers. I had already
ders. By Jove! he continued, flushing up at the noticed the peculiarities of the typewriter, and I
sight of the bitter sneer upon the mans face, it wrote to the man himself at his business address
is not part of my duties to my client, but heres a asking him if he would come here. As I expected,
hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat his reply was typewritten and revealed the same
myself to He took two swift steps to the whip, trivial but characteristic defects. The same post
but before he could grasp it there was a wild clat- brought me a letter from Westhouse & Marbank, of
ter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door Fenchurch Street, to say that the description tallied
banged, and from the window we could see Mr. in every respect with that of their employee, James
James Windibank running at the top of his speed Windibank. Voil`a tout!
down the road. And Miss Sutherland?
Theres a cold-blooded scoundrel! said If I tell her she will not believe me. You may
Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into remember the old Persian saying, There is dan-
his chair once more. That fellow will rise from ger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger
crime to crime until he does something very bad, also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.
and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and
respects, been not entirely devoid of interest. as much knowledge of the world.

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