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The Adventure of the Acknowledgements

Speckled Band Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City is very grateful
Howard County Library
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle In particular, we would like to thank
Valerie Gross, Director, Elizabeth Lancaster,
Associate Director and Hope Chase, Head of Youth
A Special Edition Published for the 2005-2006
Services, for supporting this initiative, agreeing to
Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest for Seventh Grade
be our collaborators, and bringing the Tin Box
Students Sponsored by Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott
together with Howard County Public Schools.
City in Collaboration with the Howard County
Library and the Howard County School System
Howard County Public Schools
In particular, we would like to thank Sharon Stein
for being our collaborator and Chris Paulis and
This booklet contains the story, essay contest rules, Zeleana Morris for being our coordinators.
suggestions to help students read the story critically and
write an essay, a glossary of British terms found in the
story, recommended essay questions, and the rubric that Special thanks go to
will be used to judge the essays. BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSELLERS OF
Copyright 2005 for funding the costs of this contest.
The story The Adventure of the Speckled Band is in the public
domain, and Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City holds no rights to its Special thanks also go to Cathy Schorreck, Eighth
content. Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City and Cathy Schorreck hold
the copyright for all other content in this booklet. The content in this
Grade Teacher and Head of the Middle School
booklet may not be reproduced for any purpose other than the 2004- English Department at the McDonogh School, for
2005 Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest without the express permission taking a special interest in this initiative. Ms.
of Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City. Individual contributors will Schorreck’s willingness to provide advice and
retain copyright of their contributed material.
guidance (which led to her co-authoring this
Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City booklet) improved it beyond measure
In care of
5612 Thicket Lane
Columbia, MD 21044
Table of Contents Introduction
Sherlock Holmes has survived the last 125 years as one of the
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …..…. . 1 most famous literary characters of all time. Mostly, that is due
to the talent of Arthur Conan Doyle who made him seem so
Contest Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 real. Generations of readers have felt the chill of the reading
the Adventure of the Speckled Band and have marveled at
The Adventure of the Speckled Band . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Holmes’s skill at deducing how a crime was committed.

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 There are sixty Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle. While “Sherlockians” like to argue about when
A Reader’s Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 34 the Holmes adventures were supposed to have taken place, it is
generally agreed that they took place between 1874 and 1914.
Essay Writing Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 38 Therefore, we have a chronicle of forty years of Sherlock
Holmes’s life. We can see Sherlock Holmes develop and
Essay Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 41 mature. We can find inconsistencies among the stories. We
love to re-read the stories and analyze them. People have been
Judging Rubric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 analyzing (and enjoying) Sherlock Holmes stories ever since
they first appeared.
Entry Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
“Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City,” the Sherlock Holmes
Society that is sponsoring this contest, is a literary society that
is made up of people who love to read. Founded in 1990, it has
met every month to discuss a different Sherlock Holmes story.
The Tin Box is sponsoring this contest in order to encourage
young people to read, to encourage them to read critically, to
introduce them to Sherlock Holmes, and to encourage them to
write well.

We hope that throughout the rest of your life you feel the
interest to return to Sherlock Holmes from time to time and
enjoy the fun of hearing Holmes say to Watson, “The game is
afoot.” There is a worldwide community of people who love
Sherlock Holmes. If your interest in Holmes continues, feel
free to join in.

We hope that you enjoy the Adventure of the Speckled Band.
Good luck with your essay.

Contest Rules 9. Essays must be received by Watson’s Tin Box, in
care of 5612 Thicket Lane, Columbia, MD
21044, no later than May 5, 2006 to be eligible for
1. This contest is targeting students at the 7th Grade the prizes. However, teachers or other entrants
level. may submit essays at any time during the contest
2. Parents and teachers may not write or edit the and need not wait until the end of the contest
essay for entrants. These essays should be entirely period.
the work of the 7th Graders. 10. Essays received by Watson’s Tin Box will not be
3. Please read the section of this booklet entitled returned to the student or the teacher.
Essay Questions carefully before you start the
essay. It includes questions that teachers or Prizes:
parents may wish to assign to the student as the
subject of his/her essay. The Grand Prize winner will receive a Gift Card to
4. Essays must include a stapled cover sheet/entry Barnes & Noble Booksellers worth $50. He/she will
form with the following information: also receive a copy of the Complete Sherlock Holmes
a. The student’s name, and a certificate from Watson’s Tin Box. His/her
b. The grade level, essay will be published in the next publication of
c. Age, Watson’s Tin Box.
d. Home Address,
e. Phone number, The Second and Third Prize winners will each receive
f. Sponsoring teacher’s name (if entering via the Gift Cards to Barnes & Noble Booksellers worth $25.
Library, please still identify your teacher), Each also will receive a copy of the Complete Sherlock
g. School name (home-schooled students may Holmes and a certificate from Watson’s Tin Box.
just indicate such), and
h. School address. The winners will be announced by the end of May, 2006.
5. An official entry form is included in this booklet.
A student should photocopy the entry form and
staple it to the front of his/her essay. Essays
received by Watson’s Tin Box without a stapled
cover sheet will not be read and will not be eligible
for prizes.
6. Essays are to be written in English, word-
processed, 12-point font size, double-spaced. All
pages must be stapled together.
7. A rubric identifying the criteria by which essays
will be judged is included in this booklet.
Contestants may want to review the rubric before
they begin their essays.
8. Teachers may submit no more than two essays per
class to the Tin Box for final judging.
2 3
The Adventure of the Speckled "No; a client. It seems that a young lady has arrived in
a considerable state of excitement, who insists upon seeing me.
Band She is waiting now in the sitting-room. Now, when young
ladies wander about the metropolis at this hour of the morning,
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and knock sleepy people up out of their beds, I presume that it
is something very pressing which they have to communicate.
Should it prove to be an interesting case, you would, I am sure,
wish to follow it from the outset. I thought, at any rate, that I
should call you and give you the chance."
In glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in "My dear fellow, I would not miss it for anything."
which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in
my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a his professional investigations, and in admiring the rapid
large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a
working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the logical basis with which he unraveled the problems which were
acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any submitted to him. I rapidly threw on my clothes and was ready
investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even in a few minutes to accompany my friend down to the sitting-
the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall room. A lady dressed in black and heavily veiled, who had
any which presented more singular features than that which been sitting in the window, rose as we entered.
was associated with the well-known Surrey family of the
Roylotts of Stoke Moran. The events in question occurred in
the early days of my association with Holmes, when we were
sharing rooms as bachelors in Baker Street. It is possible that I
might have placed them upon record before, but a promise of
secrecy was made at the time, from which I have only been
freed during the last month by the untimely death of the lady to
whom the pledge was given. It is perhaps as well that the facts
should now come to light, for I have reasons to know that there
are widespread rumours as to the death of Dr. Grimesby
Roylott which tend to make the matter even more terrible than
the truth.
It was early in April in the year ' 83 that I woke one
morning to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by
the side of my bed. He was a late riser, as a rule, and as the
clock on the mantelpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-
past seven, I blinked up at him in some surprise, and perhaps "Good-morning, madam," said Holmes cheerily. "My
just a little resentment, for I was myself regular in my habits. name is Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and
"Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," said he, "but associate, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as
s the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been before myself. Ha! I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had
knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I on you." the good sense to light the fire. Pray draw up to it, and I shall
"What is it, then -- a fire?"
4 5
order you a cup of hot coffee, for I observe that you are is out of my power to reward you for your services, but in a
shivering." month or six weeks I shall be married, with the control of my
"It is not cold which makes me shiver," said the own income, and then at least you shall not find me
woman in a low voice, changing her seat as requested. ungrateful."
"What, then?" Holmes turned to his desk and, unlocking it, drew out a
"It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror." She raised her veil small case-book, which he consulted.
as she spoke, and we could see that she was indeed in a pitiable "Farintosh," said he. "Ah yes, I recall the case; it was
state of agitation, her face all drawn and gray, with restless concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time,
frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features Watson. I can only say, madam, that I shall be happy to devote
and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was the same care to your case as I did to that of your friend. As to
shot with premature gray, and her expression was weary and reward, my profession is its own reward; but you are at liberty
haggard. Sherlock Holmes ran her over with one of his quick, to defray whatever expenses I may be put to, at the time which
all-comprehensive glances. suits you best. And now I beg that you will lay before us
"You must not fear," said he soothingly, bending everything that may help us in forming an opinion upon the
forward and patting her forearm. "We shall soon set matters matter."
right, I have no doubt. You have come in by train this morning, "Alas!" replied our visitor, "the very horror of my
I see." situation lies in the fact that my fears are so vague, and my
"You know me, then?" suspicions depend so entirely upon small points, which might
"No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket in seem trivial to another, that even he to whom of all others I
the palm of your left glove. You must have started early, and have a right to look for help and advice looks upon all that I tell
yet you had a good drive in a dog-cart, along heavy roads, him about it as the fancies of a nervous woman. He does not
before you reached the station." say so, but I can read it from his soothing answers and averted
The lady gave a violent start and stared in eyes. But I have heard, Mr. Holmes, that you can see deeply
bewilderment at my companion. into the manifold wickedness of the human heart. You may
"There is no mystery, my dear madam," said he, advise me how to walk amid the dangers which encompass
smiling. "The left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in me."
no less than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There "I am all attention, madam."
is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, "My name is Helen Stoner, and I am living with my
and then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver." stepfather, who is the last survivor of one of the oldest Saxon
"Whatever your reasons may be, you are perfectly families in England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, on the
correct," said she. "I started from home before six, reached western border of Surrey."
Leatherhead at twenty past, and came in by the first train to Holmes nodded his head. "The name is familiar to me,"
Waterloo. Sir, I can stand this strain no longer; I shall go mad if said he.
it continues. I have no one to turn to -none, save only one, who "The family was at one time among the richest in
cares for me, and he, poor fellow, can be of little aid. I have England, and the estates extended over the borders into
heard of you, Mr. Holmes; I have heard of you from Mrs. Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in the west. In the last
Farintosh, whom you helped in the hour of her sore need. It century, however, four successive heirs were of a dissolute and
was from her that I had your address. Oh, sir, do you not think wasteful disposition, and the family ruin was eventually
that you could help me, too, and at least throw a little light completed by a gambler in the days of the Regency. Nothing
through the dense darkness which surrounds me? At present it was left save a few acres of ground, and the two-hundred-year-
6 7
old house, which is itself crushed under a heavy mortgage. The the folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man of immense
last squire dragged out his existence there, living the horrible strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger.
life of an aristocratic pauper; but his only son, my stepfather, "Last week he hurled the local blacksmith over a
seeing that he must adapt himself to the new conditions, parapet into a stream, and it was only by paying over all the
obtained an advance from a relative, which enabled him to take money which I could gather together that I was able to avert
a medical degree and went out to Calcutta, where, by his another public exposure. He had no friends at all save the
professional skill and his force of character, he established a wandering gypsies, and he would give these vagabonds leave
large practice. In a fit of anger, however, caused by some to encamp upon the few acres of bramble-covered land which
robberies which had been perpetrated in the house, he beat his represent the family estate, and would accept in return the
native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sentence. hospitality of their tents, wandering away with them sometimes
As it was, he suffered a long term of imprisonment and for weeks on end. He has a passion also for Indian animals,
afterwards returned to England a morose and disappointed which are sent over to him by a correspondent, and he has at
man. this moment a cheetah and a baboon, which wander freely over
"When Dr. Roylott was in India he married my mother, his grounds and are feared by the villagers almost as much as
Mrs. Stoner, the young widow of Major-General Stoner, of the their master.
Bengal Artillery. My sister Julia and I were twins, and we were "You can imagine from what I say that my poor sister
only two years old at the time of my mother' s re-marriage. She Julia and I had no great pleasure in our lives. No servant would
had a considerable sum of money -not less than a thousand a stay with us, and for a long time we did all the work of the
year, and this she bequeathed to Dr. Roylott entirely while we house. She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her
resided with him, with a provision that a certain annual sum hair had already begun to whiten, even as mine has."
should be allowed to each of us in the event of our marriage. "Your sister is dead, then?"
Shortly after our return to England my mother died -- she was "She died just two years ago, and it is of her death that
killed eight years ago in a railway accident near Crewe. Dr. I wish to speak to you. You can understand that, living the life
Roylott then abandoned his attempts to establish himself in which I have described, we were little likely to see anyone of
practice in London and took us to live with him in the old our own age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my
ancestral house at Stoke Moran. The money which my mother mother' s maiden sister, Miss Honoria Westphail, who lives
had left was enough for all our wants, and there seemed to be near Harrow, and we were occasionally allowed to pay short
no obstacle to our happiness. visits at this lady's house. Julia went there at Christmas two
"But a terrible change came over our stepfather about years ago, and met there a half-pay major of marines, to whom
this time. Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with she became engaged. My stepfather learned of the engagement
our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a when my sister returned and offered no objection to the
Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut marriage; but within a fortnight of the day which had been
himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in fixed for the wedding, the terrible event occurred which has
ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence deprived me of my only companion."
of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his chair
of the family, and in my stepfather' s case it had, I believe, been with his eyes closed and his head sunk in a cushion, but he half
intensified by his long residence in the tropics. A series of opened his lids now and glanced across at his visitor.
disgraceful brawls took place, two of which ended in the "Pray be precise as to details," said he.
policecourt, until at last he became the terror of the village, and "It is easy for me to be so, for every event of that
dreadful time is seared into my memory. The manor-house is,
8 9
as I have already said, very old, and only one wing is now "I think that I mentioned to you that the doctor kept a
inhabited. The bedrooms in this wing are on the ground floor, cheetah and a baboon. We had no feeling of security unless our
the sitting-rooms being in the central block of the buildings. Of doors were locked."
these bedrooms the first is Dr. Roylott' s, the second my sister'
s, "Quite so. Pray proceed with your statement."
and the third my own. There is no communication between "I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling of
them, but they all open out into the same corridor. Do I make impending misfortune impressed me. My sister and I, you will
myself plain?" recollect, were twins, and you know how subtle are the links
"Perfectly so." which bind two souls which are so closely allied. It was a wild
"The windows of the three rooms open out upon the night. The wind was howling outside, and the rain was beating
lawn. That fatal night Dr. Roylott had gone to his room early, and splashing against the windows. Suddenly, amid all the
though we knew that he had not retired to rest, for my sister hubbub of the gale, there burst forth the wild scream of a
was troubled by the smell of the strong Indian cigars which it terrified woman. I knew that it was my sister' s voice. I sprang
was his custom to smoke. She left her room, therefore, and from my bed, wrapped a shawl round me, and rushed into the
came into mine, where she sat for some time, chatting about corridor. As I opened my door I seemed to hear a low whistle,
her approaching wedding. At eleven o' clock she rose to leave such as my sister described, and a few moments later a
me, but she paused at the door and looked back. clanging sound, as if a mass of metal had fallen. As I ran down
"'Tell me, Helen,' said she, ' have you ever heard the passage, my sister' s door was unlocked, and revolved
anyone whistle in the dead of the night?' slowly upon its hinges. I stared at it horror-stricken, not
"'Never,'said I. knowing what was about to issue from it. By the light of the
"'I suppose that you could not possibly whistle, corridor-lamp I saw my sister appear at the opening, her face
yourself, in your sleep?' blanched with terror, her hands groping for help, her whole
"'Certainly not. But why?' figure swaying to and fro like that of a drunkard. I ran to her
"'Because during the last few nights I have always, and threw my arms round her, but at that moment her knees
about three in the morning, heard a low, clear whistle. I am a seemed to give way and she fell to the ground. She writhed as
light sleeper, and it has awakened me. I cannot tell where it one who is in terrible pain, and her limbs were dreadfully
came from perhaps from the next room, perhaps from the lawn. convulsed. At first I thought that she had not recognized me,
I thought that I would just ask you whether you had heard it.’ but as I bent over her she suddenly shrieked out in a voice
"'No, I have not. It must be those wretched gypsies in which I shall never forget, ' Oh, my God! Helen! It was the
the plantation.' band! The speckled band!'There was something else which she
"'Very likely. And yet if it were on the lawn, I wonder would fain have said, and she stabbed with her finger into the
that you did not hear it also.' air in the direction of the doctor'
s room, but a fresh convulsion
"'Ah, but I sleep more heavily than you.' seized her and choked her words. I rushed out, calling loudly
"'Well, it is of no great consequence, at any rate.'She for my stepfather, and I met him hastening from his room in his
smiled back at me, closed my door, and a few moments later I dressing-gown. When he reached my sister' s side she was
heard her key turn in the lock." unconscious, and though he poured brandy down her throat and
"Indeed," said Holmes. "Was it your custom always to sent for medical aid from the village, all efforts were in vain,
lock yourselves in at night?" for she slowly sank and died without having recovered her
"Always." consciousness. Such was the dreadful end of my beloved
"And why?" sister."

10 11
"One moment," said Holmes, "are you sure about this many of them wear over their heads might have suggested the
whistle and metallic sound? Could you swear to it?" strange adjective which she used."
"That was what the county coroner asked me at the Holmes shook his head like a man who is far from
inquiry. It is my strong impression that I heard it, and yet, being satisfied..
among the crash of the gale and the creaking of an old house, I "These are very deep waters," said he; "pray go on with
may possibly have been deceived." your narrative."
"Was your sister dressed?" "Two years have passed since then, and my life has
"No, she was in her night-dress. In her right hand was been until lately lonelier than ever. A month ago, however, a
found the charred stump of a match, and in her left a match- dear friend, whom I have known for many years, has done me
box." the honour to ask my hand in marriage. His name is Armitage -
"Showing that she had struck a light and looked about - Percy Armitage – the second son of Mr. Armitage, of Crane
her when the alarm took place. That is important. And what Water, near Reading. My stepfather has offered no opposition
conclusions did the coroner come to?" to the match, and we are to be married in the course of the
"He investigated the case with great care, for Dr. spring. Two days ago some repairs were started in the west
Roylott' s conduct had long been notorious in the county, but he wing of the building, and my bedroom wall has been pierced,
was unable to find any satisfactory cause of death. My so that I have had to move into the chamber in which my sister
evidence showed that the door had been fastened upon the died, and to sleep in the very bed in which she slept. Imagine,
inner side, and the windows were blocked by old-fashioned then, my thrill of terror when last night, as I lay awake,
shutters with broad iron bars, which were secured every night. thinking over her terrible fate, I suddenly heard in the silence
The walls were carefully sounded, and were shown to be quite of the night the low whistle which had been the herald of her
solid all round, and the flooring was also thoroughly examined, own death. I sprang up and lit the lamp, but nothing was to be
with the same result. The chimney is wide, but is barred up by seen in the room. I was too shaken to go to bed again, however,
four large staples. It is certain, therefore, that my sister was so I dressed, and as soon as it was daylight I slipped down, got
quite alone when she met her end. Besides, there were no a dog-cart at the Crown Inn, which is opposite, and drove to
marks of any violence upon her." Leatherhead, from whence I have come on this morning with
"How about poison?" the one object of seeing you and asking your advice."
"The doctors examined her for it, but without success." "You have done wisely," said my friend. "But have you
"What do you think that this unfortunate lady died of, told me all?"
then?" "Yes, all."
"It is my belief that she died of pure fear and nervous "Miss Stoner, you have not. You are screening your
shock, though what it was that frightened her I cannot stepfather."
imagine." "Why, what do you mean?"
"Were there gypsies in the plantation at the time?" For answer Holmes pushed back the frill of black lace
"Yes, there are nearly always some there." which fringed the hand that lay upon our visitor' s knee. Five
"Ah, and what did you gather from this allusion to a little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were
band –a speckled band?" printed upon the white wrist.
"Sometimes I have thought that it was merely the wild "You have been cruelly used," said Holmes.
talk of delirium, sometimes that it may have referred to some The lady coloured deeply and covered over her injured
band of people, perhaps to these very gypsies in the plantation. wrist. "He is a hard man," she said, "and perhaps he hardly
I do not know whether the spotted handkerchiefs which so knows his own strength."
12 13
There was a long silence, during which Holmes leaned "When you combine the ideas of whistles at night, the
his chin upon his hands and stared into the crackling fire. presence of a band of gypsies who are on intimate terms with
"This is a very deep business," he said at last. "There this old doctor, the fact that we have every reason to believe
are a thousand details which I should desire to know before I that the doctor has an interest in preventing his stepdaughter' s
decide upon our course of action. Yet we have not a moment to marriage, the dying allusion to a band, and, finally, the fact that
lose. If we were to come to Stoke Moran to-day, would it be Miss Helen Stoner heard a metallic clang, which might have
possible for us to see over these rooms without the knowledge been caused by one of those metal bars that secured the shutters
of your stepfather?" falling back into its place, I think that there is good ground to
"As it happens, he spoke of coming into town to-day think that the mystery may be cleared along those lines."
upon some most important business. It is probable that he will "But what, then, did the gypsies do?"
be away all day, and that there would be nothing to disturb you. "I cannot imagine."
We have a housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and I "I see many objections to any such theory."
could easily get her out of the way." "And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that we are
"Excellent. You are not averse to this trip, Watson?" going to Stoke Moran this day. I want to see whether the
"By no means." objections are fatal, or if they may be explained away. But
"Then we shall both come. What are you going to do what in the name of the devil!"
yourself?" The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion
"I have one or two things which I would wish to do by the fact that our door had been suddenly dashed open, and
now that I am in town. But I shall return by the twelve o' clock that a huge man had framed himself in the aperture. His
train, so as to be there in time for your coming." costume was a peculiar mixture of the professional and of the
"And you may expect us early in the afternoon. I have agricultural, having a black top-hat, a long frock-coat, and a
myself some small business matters to attend to. Will you not pair of high gaiters, with a hunting-crop swinging in his hand.
wait and breakfast?" So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross-bar of the
"No, I must go. My heart is lightened already since I doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to
have confided my trouble to you. I shall look forward to seeing side. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned
you again this afternoon." She dropped her thick black veil yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was
over her face and glided from the room. turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot
"And what do you think of it all, Watson?" asked eyes, and his high, thin, fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the
Sherlock Holmes, leaning back in his chair. resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.
"It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister "Which of you is Holmes?" asked this apparition.
business." "My name, sir; but you have the advantage of me,"
"Dark enough and sinister enough." said my companion quietly.
"Yet if the lady is correct in saying that the flooring "I am Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran."
and walls are sound, and that the door, window, and chimney "Indeed, Doctor," said Holmes blandly. "Pray take a
are impassable, then her sister must have been undoubtedly seat."
alone when she met her mysterious end." "I will do nothing of the kind. My stepdaughter has
"What becomes, then, of these nocturnal whistles, and been here. I have traced her. What has she been saying to you?"
what of the very peculiar words of the dying woman?" "It is a little cold for the time of the year," said
"I cannot think." Holmes.

14 15
He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a
curve with his huge brown hands.
"See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he
snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he
strode out of the room.
"He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes,
laughing. "I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I
might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble
than his own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and,
with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.
"Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with
the official detective force! This incident gives zest to our
investigation, however, and I only trust that our little friend
will not suffer from her imprudence in allowing this brute to
trace her. And now, Watson, we shall order breakfast, and
afterwards I shall walk down to Doctors'Commons, where I
hope to get some data which may help us in this matter."

It was nearly one o' clock when Sherlock Holmes
returned from his excursion. He held in his hand a sheet of blue
paper, scrawled over with notes and figures.
"What has she been saying to you?" screamed the old "I have seen the will of the deceased wife," said he.
man furiously. "To determine its exact meaning I have been obliged to work
"But I have heard that the crocuses promise well," out the present prices of the investments with which it is
continued my companion imperturbably. concerned. The total income, which at the time of the wife' s
"Ha! You put me off, do you?" said our new visitor, death was little short of 1100 pounds, is now, through the fall
taking a step forward and shaking his hunting-crop. "I know in agricultural prices, not more than 750 pounds. Each daughter
you, you scoundrel! I have heard of you before. You are can claim an income of 250 pounds, in case of marriage. It is
Holmes, the meddler." evident, therefore, that if both girls had married, this beauty
My friend smiled. would have had a mere pittance, while even one of them would
"Holmes, the busybody!" cripple him to a very serious extent. My morning' s work has
His smile broadened. not been wasted, since it has proved that he has the very
"Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office!" strongest motives for standing in the way of anything of the
Holmes chuckled heartily. "Your conversation is most sort. And now, Watson, this is too serious for dawdling,
entertaining," said he. "When you go out close the door, for especially as the old man is aware that we are interesting
there is a decided draught." ourselves in his affairs; so if you are ready, we shall call a cab
"I will go when I have said my say. Don' t you dare to and drive to Waterloo. I should be very much obliged if you
meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley' s No. 2 is
- I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here." an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel

16 17
pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think all that we
At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for
Leatherhead, where we hired a trap at the station inn and drove
for four or five miles through the lovely Surrey lanes. It was a
perfect day, with a bright sun and a few fleecy clouds in the
heavens. The trees and wayside hedges were just throwing out
their first green shoots, and the air was full of the pleasant
smell of the moist earth. To me at least there was a strange
contrast between the sweet promise of the spring and this
sinister quest upon which we were engaged. My companion sat
in the front of the trap, his arms folded, his hat pulled down
over his eyes, and his chin sunk upon his breast, buried in the
deepest thought. Suddenly, however, he started, tapped me on
the shoulder, and pointed over the meadows.
"Look there!" said he.
A heavily timbered park stretched up in a gentle slope, Our client of the morning had hurried forward to meet
thickening into a grove at the highest point. From amid the us with a face which spoke her joy. "I have been waiting so
branches there jutted out the gray gables and high roof-top of a eagerly for you," she cried, shaking hands with us warmly. "All
very old mansion. has turned out splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to town, and it
"Stoke Moran?" said he. is unlikely that he will be back before evening."
"Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott," "We have had the pleasure of making the doctor' s
remarked the driver. acquaintance," said Holmes, and in a few words he sketched
"There is some building going on there," said Holmes; out what had occurred. Miss Stoner turned white to the lips as
"that is where we are going." she listened.
"There's the village," said the driver, pointing to a "Good heavens!" she cried, "he has followed me,
cluster of roofs some distance to the left; "but if you want to then."
get to the house, you' ll find it shorter to get over this stile, and "So it appears."
so by the foot-path over the fields. There it is, where the lady is "He is so cunning that I never know when I am safe
walking." from him. What will he say when he returns?"
"And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner," observed "He must guard himself, for he may find that there is
Holmes, shading his eyes. "Yes, I think we had better do as you someone more cunning than himself upon his track. You must
suggest." lock yourself up from him to-night. If he is violent, we shall
We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled back on take you away to your aunt' s at Harrow. Now, we must make
its way to Leatherhead the best use of our time, so kindly take us at once to the rooms
"I thought it as well," said Holmes as we climbed the which we are to examine."
stile, "that this fellow should think we had come here as The building was of gray, lichen-blotched stone, with a
architects, or on some definite business. It may stop his gossip. high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a
Good-afternoon, Miss Stoner. You see that we have been as crab, thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the
good as our word." windows were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while

18 19
the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The central sister had met with her fate. It was a homely little room, with a
portion was in little better repair, but the right-hand block was low ceiling and a gaping fireplace, after the fashion of old
comparatively modern, and the blinds in the windows, with the country-houses. A brown chest of drawers stood in one corner,
blue smoke curling up from the chimneys, showed that this was a narrow white counterpaned bed in another, and a dressing-
where the family resided. Some scaffolding had been erected table on the left-hand side of the window. These articles, with
against the end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, two small wicker-work chairs, made up all the furniture in the
but there were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our room save for a square of Wilton carpet in the centre. The
visit. Holmes walked slowly up and down the ill-trimmed lawn boards round and the paneling of the walls were of brown,
and examined with deep attention the outsides of the windows. worm-eaten oak, so old and discoloured that it may have dated
"This, I take it, belongs to the room in which you used from the original building of the house. Holmes drew one of
to sleep, the centre one to your sister' s, and the one next to the the chairs into a corner and sat silent, while his eyes traveled
main building to Dr. Roylott' s chamber?" round and round and up and down, taking in every detail of the
"Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the middle one." apartment.
"Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, "Where does that bell communicate with?" he asked at
there does not seem to be any very pressing need for repairs at last pointing to a thick belt-rope which hung down beside the
that end wall." bed, the tassel actually lying upon the pillow.
"There were none. I believe that it was an excuse to "It goes to the housekeeper' s room."
move me from my room." "It looks newer than the other things?"
"Ah! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this "Yes, it was only put there a couple of years ago."
narrow wing runs the corridor from which these three rooms "Your sister asked for it, I suppose?"
open. There are windows in it, of course?" "No, I never heard of her using it. We used always to
"Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for anyone to get what we wanted for ourselves."
pass through." "Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice a bell-
"As you both locked your doors at night, your rooms pull there. You will excuse me for a few minutes while I satisfy
were unapproachable from that side. Now, would you have the myself as to this floor."
kindness to go into your room and bar your shutters?" He threw himself down upon his face with his lens in
Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful his hand and crawled swiftly backward and forward, examining
examination through the open window, endeavoured in every minutely the cracks between the boards. Then he did the same
way to force the shutter open, but without success. There was with the wood-work with which the chamber was paneled.
no slit through which a knife could be passed to raise the bar. Finally he walked over to the bed and spent some time in
Then with his lens he tested the hinges, but they were of solid staring at it and in running his eye up and down the wall.
iron, built firmly into the massive masonry. Finally he took the bell-rope in his hand and gave it a brisk tug.
"Hum!" said he, scratching his chin in some perplexity, "Why, it' s a dummy," said he.
"my theory certainly presents some difficulties. No one could "Won' t it ring?"
pass these shutters if they were bolted. Well, we shall see if the "No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is very
inside throws any light upon the matter." interesting. You can see now that it is fastened to a hook just
A small side door led into the whitewashed corridor above where the little opening for the ventilator is."
from which the three bedrooms opened . Holmes refused to "How very absurd! I never noticed that before."
examine the third chamber, so we passed at once to the second, "Very strange!" muttered Holmes, pulling at the rope.
that in which Miss Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her "There are one or two very singular points about this room. For
20 21
example, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into The object which had caught his eye was a small dog
another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have lash hung on one corner of the bed. The lash, however, was
communicated with the outside air!" curled upon itself and tied so as to make a loop of whipcord.
"That is also quite modern," said the lady. "What do you make of that, Watson?"
"Done about the same time as the bell-rope?" remarked "It's a common enough lash. But I don' t know why if
Holmes. should be tied."
"Yes, there were several little changes carried out "That is not quite so common, is it? Ah, me! it' s a
about that time." wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime
"They seem to have been of a most interesting it is the worst of all. I think that I have seen enough now, Miss
character – dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators which do not Stoner, and with your permission we shall walk out upon the
ventilate. With your permission, Miss Stoner, we shall now lawn."
carry our researches into the inner apartment." I had never seen my friend' s face so grim or his brow
Dr. Grimesby Roylott' s chamber was larger than that of so dark as it was when we turned from the scene of this
his stepdaughter, but was as plainly furnished. A camp-bed, a investigation. We had walked several times up and down the
small wooden shelf full of books, mostly of a technical lawn, neither Miss Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon
character an armchair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair his thoughts before he roused himself from his reverie.
against the wall, a round table, and a large iron safe were the "It is very essential, Miss Stoner," said he, "that you
principal things which met the eye. Holmes walked slowly should absolutely follow my advice in every respect."
round and examined each and all of them with the keenest "I shall most certainly do so."
interest. "The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life
"What' s in here?" he asked, tapping the safe. may depend upon your compliance."
"My stepfather' s business papers." "I assure you that I am in your hands."
"Oh! you have seen inside, then?" "In the first place, both my friend and I must spend the
"Only once, some years ago. I remember that it was night in your room."
full of papers." Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in astonishment.
"There isn' t a cat in it, for example?" "Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe that that
"No. What a strange idea!" is the village inn over there?"
"Well, look at this!" He took up a small saucer of milk "Yes, that is the Crown."
which stood on the top of it. "Very good. Your windows would be visible from
"No; we don' t keep a cat. But there is a cheetah and a there?"
baboon." "Certainly."
"Ah, yes, of course! Well, a cheetah is just a big cat, "You must confine yourself to your room, on pretence
and yet a saucer of milk does not go very far in satisfying its of a headache, when your stepfather comes back. Then when
wants, I daresay. There is one point which I should wish to you hear him retire for the night, you must open the shutters of
determine." He squatted down in front of the wooden chair and your window, undo the hasp, put your lamp there as a signal to
examined the seat of it with the greatest attention. us, and then withdraw quietly with everything which you are
"Thank you. That is quite settled," said he, rising and likely to want into the room which you used to occupy. I have
putting his lens in his pocket. "Hello! Here is something no doubt that, in spite of the repairs, you could manage there
interesting!" for one night."
"Oh, yes, easily."
22 23
"The rest you will leave in our hands." "You speak of danger. You have evidently seen more
"But what will you do?" in these rooms than was visible to me."
"We shall spend the night in your room, and we shall "No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more.
investigate the cause of this noise which has disturbed you." I imagine that you saw all that I did."
"I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already made up "I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, and what
your mind," said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my purpose that could answer I confess is more than I can
companion' s sleeve. imagine."
"Perhaps I have." "You saw the ventilator, too?"
"Then, for pity' s sake, tell me what was the cause of "Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very unusual
my sister' s death." thing to have a small opening between two rooms. It was so
"I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak." small that a rat could hardly pass through."
"You can at least tell me whether my own thought is "I knew that we should find a ventilator before ever we
correct, and if she died from some sudden fright." came to Stoke Moran."
"No, I do not think so. I think that there was probably "My dear Holmes!"
some more tangible cause. And now, Miss Stoner, we must "Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement she
leave you for if Dr. Roylott returned and saw us our journey said that her sister could smell Dr. Roylott' s cigar. Now, of
would be in vain. Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do course that suggested at once that there must be a
what I have told you, you may rest assured that we shall soon communication between the two rooms. It could only be a
drive away the dangers that threaten you." small one, or it would have been remarked upon at the
Sherlock Holmes and I had no difficulty in engaging a coroner' s inquiry. I deduced a ventilator."
bedroom and sitting-room at the Crown Inn. They were on the "But what harm can there be in that?"
upper floor, and from our window we could command a view "Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of dates.
of the avenue gate, and of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran A ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and a lady who sleeps in
Manor House. At dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roylott drive the bed dies. Does not that strike you?"
past, his huge form looming up beside the little figure of the lad "I cannot as yet see any connection."
who drove him. The boy had some slight difficulty in undoing "Did you observe anything very peculiar about that
the heavy iron gates, and we heard the hoarse roar of the bed?"
doctor's voice and saw the fury with which he shook his "No."
clinched fists at him. The trap drove on, and a few minutes "It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see a bed
later we saw a sudden light spring up among the trees as the fastened like that before?"
lamp was lit in one of the sitting-rooms. "I cannot say that I have."
"Do you know, Watson," said Holmes as we sat "The lady could not move her bed. It must always be in
together in the gathering darkness, "I have really some scruples the same relative position to the ventilator and to the rope -- or
as to taking you to-night. There is a distinct element of so we may call it, since it was clearly never meant for a bell-
danger." pull."
"Can I be of assistance?" "Holmes," I cried, "I seem to see dimly what you are
"Your presence might be invaluable." hinting at. We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and
"Then I shall certainly come." horrible crime."
"It is very kind of you." "Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor
does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he
24 25
has knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of a trumpet of his hand, he whispered into my ear again so gently
their profession. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, that it was all that I could do to distinguish the words:
Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall "The least sound would be fatal to our plans."
have horrors enough before the night is over; for goodness' I nodded to show that I had heard.
sake let us have a quiet pipe and turn our minds for a few hours "We must sit without light. He would see it through the
to something more cheerful." ventilator."
About nine o' clock the light among the trees was I nodded again.
extinguished, and all was dark in the direction of the Manor "Do not go asleep; your very life may depend upon it.
House. Two hours passed slowly away, and then, suddenly, just Have your pistol ready in case we should need it. I will sit on
at the stroke of eleven, a single bright light shone out right in the side of the bed, and you in that chair."
front of us. I took out my revolver and laid it on the corner of the
"That is our signal," said Holmes, springing to his feet; table.
"it comes from the middle window." Holmes had brought up a long thin cane, and this he
As we passed out he exchanged a few words with the placed upon the bed beside him. By it he laid the box of
landlord, explaining that we were going on a late visit to an matches and the stump of a candle. Then he turned down the
acquaintance, and that it was possible that we might spend the lamp, and we were left in darkness.
night there. A moment later we were out on the dark road, a How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil? I could not
chill wind blowing in our faces, and one yellow light twinkling hear a sound, not even the drawing of a breath, and yet I knew
in front of us through the gloom to guide us on our sombre that my companion sat open-eyed, within a few feet of me, in
errand. There was little difficulty in entering the grounds, for the same state of nervous tension in which I was myself. The
unrepaired breaches gaped in the old park wall. Making our shutters cut off the least ray of light, and we waited in absolute
way among the trees, we reached the lawn, crossed it, and were darkness. From outside came the occasional cry of a night-bird,
about to enter through the window when out from a clump of and once at our very window a long drawn catlike whine,
laurel bushes there darted what seemed to be a hideous and which told us that the cheetah was indeed at liberty. Far away
distorted child, who threw itself upon the grass with writhing we could hear the deep tones of the parish clock, which
limbs and then ran swiftly across the lawn into the darkness. boomed out every quarter of an hour. How long they seemed,
"My God!" I whispered; "did you see it?" those quarters! Twelve struck, and one and two and three, and
Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand still we sat waiting silently for whatever might befall.
closed like a vise upon my wrist in his agitation. Then he broke Suddenly there was the momentary gleam of a light up
into a low laugh and put his lips to my ear. in the direction of the ventilator, which vanished immediately,
"It is a nice household," he murmured. "That is the but was succeeded by a strong smell of burning oil and heated
baboon." metal. Someone in the next room had lit a dark-lantern. I heard
I had forgotten the strange pets which the doctor a gentle sound of movement, and then all was silent once more,
affected. There was a cheetah, too; perhaps we might find it though the smell grew stronger. For half an hour I sat with
upon our shoulders at any moment. I confess that I felt easier in straining ears. Then suddenly another sound became audible -a
my mind when, after following Holmes' s example and slipping very gentle, soothing sound, like that of a small jet of steam
off my shoes, I found myself inside the bedroom. My escaping continually from a kettle. The instant that we heard it,
companion noiselessly closed the shutters, moved the lamp Holmes sprang from the bed, struck a match, and lashed
onto the table, and cast his eyes round the room. All was as we furiously with his cane at the bell-pull.
had seen it in the daytime. Then creeping up to me and making
26 27
With a grave face he lit the lamp and led the way down
the corridor. Twice he struck at the chamber door without any
reply from within. Then he turned the handle and entered, I at
his heels, with the cocked pistol in my hand.
It was a singular sight which met our eyes. On the table
stood a dark-lantern with the shutter half open, throwing a
brilliant beam of light upon the iron safe, the door of which
was ajar. Beside this table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr.
Grimesby Roylott clad in a long gray dressing-gown, his bare
ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless
Turkish slippers. Across his lap lay the short stock with the
long lash which we had noticed during the day. His chin was
cocked upward and his eyes were fixed in a dreadful, rigid
stare at the corner of the ceiling. Round his brow he had a
peculiar yellow band, with brownish speckles, which seemed to
be bound tightly round his head. As we entered he made
neither sound nor motion.
"The band! the speckled band!" whispered Holmes.
"You see it, Watson?" he yelled. "You see it? " I took a step forward. In an instant his strange headgear
But I saw nothing. At the moment when Holmes struck began to move, and there reared itself from among his hair the
the light I heard a low, clear whistle, but the sudden glare squat diamond-shaped head and puffed neck of a loathsome
flashing into my weary eyes made it impossible for me to tell serpent.
what it was at which my friend lashed so savagely. I could, "It is a swamp adder!" cried Holmes -- "the deadliest
however, see that his face was deadly pale and filled with snake in India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten.
horror and loathing. Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the
He had ceased to strike and was gazing up at the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another. Let us
ventilator when suddenly there broke from the silence of the thrust this creature back into its den, and we can then remove
night the most horrible cry to which I have ever listened . It Miss Stoner to some place of shelter and let the county police
swelled up louder and louder, a hoarse yell of pain and fear and know what has happened."
anger all mingled in the one dreadful shriek. They say that As he spoke he drew the dog-whip swiftly from the
away down in the village, and even in the distant parsonage, dead man' s lap, and throwing the noose round the reptile' s neck
that cry raised the sleepers from their beds. It struck cold to our he drew it from its horrid perch and, carrying it at arm' s length,
hearts, and I stood gazing at Holmes, and he at me, until the threw it into the iron safe, which he closed upon it.
last echoes of it had died away into the silence from which it
rose. Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. Grimesby
"What can it mean?" I gasped. Roylott, of Stoke Moran. It is not necessary that I should
"It means that it is all over," Holmes answered. "And prolong a narrative which has already run to too great a length
perhaps, after all, it is for the best. Take your pistol, and we by telling how we broke the sad news to the terrified girl, how
will enter Dr. Roylott' s room." we conveyed her by the morning train to the care of her good
aunt at Harrow, of how the slow process of official inquiry
28 29
came to the conclusion that the doctor met his fate while "I had come to these conclusions before ever I had
indiscreetly playing with a dangerous pet. The little which I entered his room. An inspection of his chair showed me that he
had yet to learn of the case was told me by Sherlock Holmes as had been in the habit of standing on it, which of course would
we traveled back next day. be necessary in order that he should reach the ventilator. The
"I had," said he, "come to an entirely erroneous sight of the safe, the saucer of milk, and the loop of whipcord
conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it were enough to finally dispel any doubts which may have
always is to reason from insufficient data. The presence of the remained. The metallic clang heard by Miss Stoner was
gypsies, and the use of the word ' band,'which was used by the obviously caused by her stepfather hastily closing the door of
poor girl, no doubt to explain the appearance which she had his safe upon its terrible occupant. Having once made up my
caught a hurried glimpse of by the light of her match, were mind, you know the steps which I took in order to put the
sufficient to put me upon an entirely wrong scent. I can only matter to the proof. I heard the creature hiss as I have no doubt
claim the merit that I instantly reconsidered my position when, that you did also, and I instantly lit the light and attacked it."
however, it became clear to me that whatever danger "With the result of driving it through the ventilator."
threatened an occupant of the room could not come either from "And also with the result of causing it to turn upon its
the window or the door. My attention was speedily drawn, as I master at the other side. Some of the blows of my cane came
have already remarked to you, to this ventilator, and to the bell- home and roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the
rope which hung down to the bed. The discovery that this was a first person it saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly
dummy, and that the bed was clamped to the floor, instantly responsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott' s death, and I cannot say
gave rise to the suspicion that the rope was there as a bridge for that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience."
something passing through the hole and coming to the bed. The
idea of a snake instantly occurred to me, and when I coupled it The End
with my knowledge that the doctor was furnished with a supply
of creatures from India, I felt that I was probably on the right
track. The idea of using a form of poison which could not
possibly be discovered by any chemical test was just such a one
as would occur to a clever and ruthless man who had had an
Eastern training. The rapidity with which such a poison would
take effect would also, from his point of view, be an advantage.
It would be a sharp-eyed coroner, indeed, who could
distinguish the two little dark punctures which would show
where the poison fangs had done their work. Then I thought of
the whistle. Of course he must recall the snake before the
morning light revealed it to the victim. He had trained it,
probably by the use of the milk which we saw, to return to him
when summoned. He would put it through this ventilator at the
hour that he thought best, with the certainty that it would crawl
down the rope and land on the bed. It might or might not bite
the occupant, perhaps she might escape every night for a week,
but sooner or later she must fall a victim.

30 31
Glossary of Terms Used in the parapet – low protective wall
parish clock – church clock
Story parsonage – residence provided by a church for its parson
pauper – extremely poor person
pittance – very small amount of money
retorted – returned like for like; retaliated
affected – showed a liking for
return ticket – round trip ticket
averted – turned away
The Regency - 1811-1820, last 9 years of George III’s reign
aperture – opening
when he was insane
bile-shot eyes – eyes whose whites are colored brownish
sounded – examined something by causing it to emit sound
yellow or greenishyellow
squire – a country gentleman especially one who is the
blandly – showing no concern or worry
principal landowner in a village
bramble-covered – covered with prickly shrubs or bushes
staples – U-shaped metal loops with pointed ends, driven into
camp-bed – folding bed
a surface to hold bolts or wiring in place
clinched fists – clenched fists
reverie – daydream
counterpane - bedspread
scruples – uneasy feelings arising from conscience
dark lantern — lantern with sliding door
singular – beyond what is ordinary or usual; remarkable
dog-cart – a cart with two seats placed back-to-back; name is
stile — steps over a fence
derived from a box under rear seat originally used to
stump – short piece
carry dogs
trap — one-horse, two-wheeled, open carriage
dog lash – dog leash
vigil – watch kept during normal sleeping hours
dissolute – indulged in sensual pleasures or vices
whipcord – strong, twisted or braided cord used as a whip
draught – draft
whitewashed – covered with a mixture of lime and water to
fain — gladly, willingly
whiten it
fortnight — two weeks
Wilton carpet – carpet with lush surface loops of yarn; named
frock-coat — close fitting, double-breasted, knee-length coat
for the town in Southwestern England where it was
gable — part of house that is enclosed by part of the roof that
first made
slopes downward
gaiters — cover for the ankle and instep, spats
hasp – metal fastener with a hinged, slotted part that fits over
a projecting part and is secured by a bolt
herald – a sign of something to come
insolence – arrogance; impertinence
Jack-in-office – a petty official unjustifiably claiming
distinction or merit
knock you up – wake you by knocking at the door
lichen-blotched – spotted with a fungus that forms a crust-like
or branching growth
livid – discolored as from a bruise; black-and-blue
morose – gloomy

32 33
A Reader's Guide 5. Research information about gypsies in
England in the late 1800s. Helpful hint: the
preferred name for these people is either Roma
The following pre-reading activities, reading approach, or Scinti. These names refer to the ethnic
and post reading activities are offered to make the help backgrounds of these nomadic people.
the students think critically. Teachers may encourage
children to read them before they begin reading the story.

Reading Approach
Pre-Reading Activities
• If you have a photocopied version of this story,
• Feel free to talk with someone about the story feel free to write your thoughts next to the text, so
before you read it. Perhaps, a friend or your mom you can keep notes.
or dad can read the story, as well.
• While you are reading the story, try to think about
• Think about what you already might know about similar experiences that you may have had. Have
the subject. Have you read any Sherlock Holmes you ever been to a country house such as the one
stories before? Have you read any other that is mentioned in the story?
• Ask yourself questions about the people, places,
• If you want, make predictions about what you and events in the story. Are they logical? Are
think the story might be about. What do you think they believable? Try to analyze things that happen
will happen? Why is the title of the story The in the story. Why do the characters behave the
Adventure of the Speckled Band? way they do? Why do particular events occur the
way they do? If something confuses you, discuss
• Other pre-reading activities could include: it with someone.
1. Research information about Sir Arthur Conan • Visualize the story. Think of how you might
Doyle. make it into a movie. How would you stage the
2. Create a time-line for the major events both in events in the story? What do you think the
England and around the world for period characters look like? What do the settings in
spanning the 1870s-1920s. which the story takes place look like?
3. Look at map of England. Locate London,
Surrey, Harrow, Berkshire, Hampshire, • Make predictions while you are reading the story.
Waterloo, and Leatherhead. What do you think will happen next? Does the
4. Research information pertaining to the plot follow the predictions you are making?
Sherlock Holmes stories.
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Critical Reading Questions stated in the text and to promote analytical thinking. Teachers
may want the classes to discuss the story before the students
begin to write their essays. Teachers may even choose to
When you are reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock require students to write answers to any or all of the questions
Holmes mystery the Adventure of the Speckled Band, try to prior to discussion.)
look for information relating to the following questions. In
addition, ask questions and make predictions about the story as Sometimes, rereading a story can help you to understand it
you read. Seek out answers to your questions and make better. The first time that you read a story (particularly a
judgments about the way the story unfolds. Look up any mystery like The Speckled Band), you often read it just to find
vocabulary words you do not know and write their definitions out what happens. However, the second time you read a story,
in the margins. you often notice new things and discover new insights and
details. Lovers of the Sherlock Holmes stories re-read the
1. What is the point of view of this story? Who is the adventures many times and discover new ideas each time they
narrator? do so. Rereading a story can help you really understand it.
2. Who are the main characters?
3. What is the setting of the story? Does the setting After you have read the story, visualize it again. Think of the
change at all? facts in the story, for example, “Who is Mrs. Hudson?” “Where
4. What is the central conflict? How is it resolved? does Sherlock Holmes reside?”
5. Are there long paragraphs of description? What
purpose do they serve? Summarize the story for yourself. Decide what was important.
6. Are there important objects in the story? Are they
symbolic in any way? In addition, begin to analyze the characters, plot, style, and
7. Are there any unexpected or surprising turn of events? other points of the story. For example, “What kind of man is
8. Identify at least two themes that emerge from the Dr. Roylott?” “What technique did Arthur Conan Doyle use to
story? make us feel nervous while Holmes and Watson waited in
Helen Stoner's bedroom?”
Predictions (during reading)

1. What do you think the speckled band might be? Some Factual Questions
2. What do you think was making the whistling sound?
3. Do you think Sherlock Holmes will take the case? 1. Why does Helen Stoner seek Holmes s help?
Why or why not? 2. Why did Dr. Roylott spend time in jail?
4. What do you think happened to Miss Stoner s sister? 3. According to Helen Stoner, what were the facts
surrounding her sister s death?
4. Why would Dr. Roylott have been opposed to his
stepdaughters marrying?
Post Reading Activities 5. What peculiarities does Holmes find upon his
inspection of the bedrooms?
6. Why does Holmes want Miss Stoner to confine herself
(The following post reading suggestions are intended to help to her bedroom?
the students take note of specific information that is clearly
36 37
7. How did Holmes know there would be a ventilator in
the rooms?
Thinking About Your Essay
8. What happens to Dr. Roylott?
9. What was the “speckled band?” Read the essay questions and select one that you find
10. Can you look at other Holmes stories and find at least interesting, challenging, and worth writing about. Use a
two other cases that Holmes solved before Watson prewriting strategy (web, bulleted list, graphic organizer) that
joined him? you are comfortable with to gather and organize ideas for your
11. What was the relationship between England and India answer, as well as details from the story that suggest your
that enabled Dr. Roylott to move to Calcutta and start a interpretations are strong.
medical practice?
12. Can you find any peculiar facts in the story? Before you start to write your essay, focus on:
13. What was the "Doctors'Commons?"
14. What would Dr. Roylott' s annual income have been if • The Role or perspective from which you want to write
Helen Stoner got married? the essay
• The Audience you want to address
• The Format in which to write
Some Analytical Questions • The Topic about which to write
• A Strong Verb that suggests the purpose of the writing
1. Why do you think Dr. Roylott uses physical force in (such as persuade, analyze, create, predict or compare)
his meeting with Holmes
2. Why does Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spend so much time First, you can list your choices for each of these categories.
developing descriptions of nature? Then, write a paragraph that that identifies the role from which
3. Why do you think that Conan Doyle introduced the you want to write the essay, who you want to pretend your
presence of the gypsies? What do you think about audience is, what format you are going to use, what impact you
that? want your essay to have, and what your topic is going to be.
4. Why do you think Doyle chooses to make Watson the
narrator? Is the limited point of view effective in For example:
developing a comprehensive picture of the characters?
You are Dr. Watson (Role). You want to write a letter
(Format) to Sherlock Holmes (Audience) analyzing
Essay Writing Tips (Strong Verb) your friendship (Topic).

Of course, the audience could simply be Watson’s Tin Box.
Over the last year, Watson’s Tin Box has collaborated with the
Howard County School System to incorporate the System’s Before you start writing, ask yourself what you know about the
approach toward essay writing. They follow standard rules role you adopt and the audience you are writing for. Think
and are consistent with the rubric that will be used to judge the about the approach you will use to support your opinion. Wha
essays. sort of detail from the story would grab your audience’s

38 39
The Traditional Structural Rules Make sure that you show how your ideas in the body
paragraphs are related to each other. These “transitions”
connect your arguments to one another. Use either or both the
Write about the story using a formal tone. Try to not use “I” in last sentence of one paragraph and/or the first sentence (the
your essay. Please do not write a plot summary or a biography topic sentence) of the next to show how the two ideas are
of the Conan Doyle. You should try to cite the text or use related. Sometimes it is helpful to think about how the ideas
details, examples, quotations, and paraphrases to support your compare or contrast. For example, does one paragraph discuss
views. one fact and the second paragraph discuss a fact of greater
significance ("More importantly...")? Do they contrast? Are
The essay should include an introductory paragraph, main body they being seen from different character’s perspectives?
paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.
Make sure that you have a transition from the last body
The introduction should set up the general discussion of your paragraph to your conclusion paragraph. Sometimes, it is
subject. It should lead to a very specific statement of your suggested to sum up the third body paragraph with some
main point. It is often recommended that essays begin with a reminders of your other paragraphs. Don' t restate the topics
"grabber," such as raising a surprising point or a challenging fully because you will do that in the conclusion paragraph.
claim that will “grab” the reader'
s attention and introduces the
main point of your analysis. This is called the “thesis
sentence.” The introduction paragraph should summarize what
your overall point, thesis, or argument is going to be in the
main body paragraphs of your essay. Essay Questions
Each main body paragraph should discuss a single idea, reason, Teachers (if the child is participating through the School
or example that supports your argument or thesis. Each System) or parents (if the child is participating through the
paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence (a summary Library) may choose one of the questions below and assign it
that describes the main point of the paragraph) and as much to the children as their essay topic, or they may let the children
information as is necessary to explain your argument. Try to choose from the list. In cases where a child becomes
use details, references, examples, and citations from the story particularly interested in an aspect of the story and wants to
to make your thesis clear and your arguments convincing. All use that as the topic for his or her essay, the child is required
of the points raised in your body paragraph should support your to talk about it first with their teacher or parent in order to
main thesis. assure that they have a well defined issue and an appropriate
approach to writing the essay.
You should begin your conclusion paragraph with a
restatement of your main thesis. However, do not just repeat We recommend that students address one of the following pre-
your thesis sentence. Discuss why you think that your thesis is defined questions in their essays:
important to the understanding of the story. Since this is the
last piece of the essay that the reader will read, think about the 1. Watson explains that Sherlock Holmes works for “the
idea or feeling that you want to leave your reader with. The love of his art”. Find examples from the text that
conclusion should be specific in contrast to the introduction. illustrate this statement.

40 41
2. Watson also describes Holmes’s preference for cases • Discuss the point of view of a narrative. Why
that, “tend towards the unusual, and even the did Conan Doyle choose this angle? How does
fantastic.” Do you agree that this story meets that it affect the reader'
s response? How would the
criterion? story change if told from a different point of
3. How do you describe the relationship between Dr. view?
Watson and Sherlock Holmes? Be sure to support your • Discuss how the setting of the story contributes
claims with examples from the text. to it. How does it support or conflict with the
4. How believable are Holmes' s deductions about Miss character’s behavior or the conflict in the
Stoner upon her arrival? story? Does it set a mood?
5. How would you describe the relationship between Dr. • What is the central conflict in the story? (But
Roylott and his step-daughters? Support your opinions be careful not to write a plot summary.) Show
with textual evidence. how its resolution illustrates the author' s
6. How was Dr. Roylott’s death ironic? purpose.
7. Why do you think Doyle chooses not to fully develop Analyze the theme of the story. Is there a
his antagonist, Dr. Roylott? “universal truth” that Conan Doyle was
8. Why do you think that Doyle chose to tell the story attempting to convey through the adventure?
through the eyes of Dr. Watson?
Students will be judged on the quality of their essays, not on
If you have a well defined aspect of the story that you prefer to whether they choose or do not choose one of the pre-defined
address, you may write the essay on that issue, only after questions.
receiving approval from your teacher (if you are participating
in the contest through the school) or parent (if you are
participating through the Library). The following are simply
some suggestions to help you think about the essay you are to
write if you choose not to use one of the pre-defined questions.

• You may choose to analyze a single character
or compare/contrast two characters, including
a discussion of motivation, behavior, attitudes,
interaction with other characters, etc.
• Are there any important symbols in the story?
What are the specific symbols? Are these
symbols part of a pattern that points toward a
• Analyze the use of imagery (colors, smells,
textures, shapes, sounds, etc.) in the story. To
what senses do these images appeal (sight,
smell, touch, and hearing)? How do they
enhance our pleasure and understanding of the
42 43
Rubric to be Used in Judging the Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City
2005 – 2006 Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest
Contest For Seventh Grade Students
Official Entry Form and Cover Sheet.
1 2 3 4 5

Experimenting Emerging Developing Effective Strong Score
Narrow and
This Entry Form should be photocopied and stapled to the top
Hints at topic; General topic
Topic fairly manageable topic;
narrowed; new ways Clear, focused, and
of the essay. . A student should photocopy this entry form and
Searching for a topic;
Reader left with
many unanswered
defined; Reasonably of thinking about
clear ideas; Details topic attempted;
answers readers'
questions; Relevant
staple it to the front of his/her essay. Essays received by
Limited information;
Vague details;
questions; Sporadic
details; Glimmer of
present but not Credible details with and accurate details;
precise; Shows some some support; Writer Shows insight into
Watson’s Tin Box without a stapled cover sheet will not be
Ideas Random thoughts Main Point specifics understands topic topic read and will not be eligible for prizes. None of the
Inviting introduction
and satisfying information provided will be used for any purpose unrelated to
No lead or Ineffective lead &
Routine lead &
conclusion; Mainly
conclusion; Masterful
sequencing; Artful this essay contest.
conclusion; conclusion; Some logical sequencing; Effective lead & pacing used for
Sequencing not sequencing apparent; Pacing generally conclusion; stylistic effect;
present; No Pacing awkward;
awareness of pacing; Some attempt at
under control;
Common structures
Sequencing works Structure showcases
well; Well controlled the central ideas of Essays must be received by Watson’s Tin Box, in care of 5612
Organization Hard to follow structure detract from content pacing; Smooth flow theme
Thicket Lane, Columbia, MD 21044, no later than May 5,
Occasionally aware Occasionally Compelling and
of audience; General intrigues the reader; Interesting and engaging; Takes 2006to be eligible for the prizes.
No concern for statements require Pleasing, yet "safe;" informative; effective risks;
audience; Lifeless & reader interpretation; Writer/reader Pleasing, takes risks; reflects interest in
mechanical; Flat or Tries to engage connection fades in Engages reader most and commitment to
inappropriate; reader; Hints at and out; Purpose of the time; Purpose topic; Purpose is Student’s name: _____________________________________
Voice Purpose not present purpose inconsistent consistent clear and powerful

Some active verbs Effective and Effective and Grade level:_________________________________________
Generally correct and precise nouns; A creative verbs and creative verbs and
Vocabulary is limited; words, no spice;
Simple words used Language is
moment or two of
sparkle; Experiments
nouns; Wording
mostly correct;
nouns; Wording
mostly correct; Age:______________________________________________
incorrectly; No functional ; Attempts with figurative Figurative language Figurative language
figurative language; interesting words;
Words do not convey Words convey
language; Words
begin to enhance
is effective; Words
and phrases work
is effective; Words
and phrases work Home Address:_____________________________________
Word Choice meaning general meaning meaning well well

Attempts compound Begins to have easy Polished rhythm,

Choppy, rambling, or
Some simple
and complex
flow and rhythm;
Strong and varied
cadence, and flow;
Creative use of
incomplete; No
"sentence sense;"
connecting word use;
Sentences usually
connect; Parts invite
structure; Oral
reading encourages
sentence length and
structure; Invites
Oral reading not
possible; Repetitive
Oral reading difficult;
Attempts variation I
oral reading;
Sentences begin in
expression in places;
Sentences well
expressive reading;
Sentences enhance
Sentence Fluency beginnings sentence beginnings different ways crafted meaning Sponsoring teacher’s name (if entering via the Library, please
Spelling correct even
on more difficult still identify your teacher):
Spelling errors on
Spelling generally
correct on basic
Few spelling errors
even on difficult
words; Accurate &
creative use of _____________________________________
Spelling errors easy words; Errors words; Routine words; Consistent punctuation &
impede readability; on basic punctuation punctuation & use of punctuation & capitalization;
Incorrect Punctuation & capitalization; capitalization; capitalization; Grammar and usage
& capitalization;
Many grammar
Some usage &
grammar errors;
Grammar errors
Grammar and usage
contribute to clarity
and style; Sound and School name (home-schooled students may just indicate such):
errors; Lack of Occasional use of Consistent Paragraphing creative
Conventions paragraphing paragraphing paragraphing stylistically effective
Spacing improves
Attempts consistent clarity; Experiments Good balance of
Random spacing or Some thought given spacing;
lack of spacing; Poor to spacing; Attempts Margins/headers
with graphic
elements; Overall
space and text;
Effectively integrates
use of white space; margins/headers; effective; Overall
Overall appearance Overall appearance appearance is
appearance shows
balance and
graphic elements;
Overall appearance
Presentation unacceptable is distracting acceptable proportion is pleasing


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