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About th electronic version
Th Red-hedd Leag
Doyle, Arthr Conn
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1995 Th Adventurs of Sherlock Holmes
Note: Th orijnl untagged electronic version of this text was downloaded in Febry 1992 from th Almnac Infrmation Servr located at th Extension Service at Oregn State University. Initial tagng of titles and sentenses was carrid out at th European Corpus Initiativ in Ednbrh in October 1992.
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About th print version
Th Red-hedd Leag
Doyle, Arthr Conn
Ilustrated by: Sidny Paget : Th Strand Magazine
Londn July to Decembr 1891 Vol. 2
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Febry-March 1995 Kelly Tetterton
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TO 197 30
thirty 202 Merryweather Merryweather,
March 1993 L. B.
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1992 David Mckelvie
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I had cald upon my frend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in th autm of last year and found him in deep convrsation with a very stout, florid-faced, eldrly jentlman with firy red hair.
With an apolojy for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw wen Holmes puld me abruptly into th room and closed th dor behind me.
"U cud not posbly hav com at a betr time, my dear Watson," he said cordialy.
"I was afraid that u wer engajed."
"So I am.
Very much so."
"Then I can wait in th next room."
"Not at al.
This jentlman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partnr and helpr in many of my most succesful cases, and I hav no dout that he wil be of th utmost use to me in yrs also."
Th stout jentlman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of greetng, with a quik litl questionng glance from his smal fat-encircld ys.
"Try th setee," said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair and putng his fingrtips togethr, as was his custm wen in judicial moods.
"I no, my dear Watson, that u share my lov of al that is bizar and outside th conventions and humdrum rutine of evryday life.
U hav shown yr relish for it by th enthusiasm wich has promtd u to cronicl, and, if u wil excuse my sayng so, somwat to embellish so many of my own litl adventurs."
"Yr cases hav indeed been of th gretst intrest to me," I observd.
"U wil remembr that I remarkd th othr day, just befor we went into th very simpl problm presentd by Miss Mary Suthrland, that for stranje efects and extrordnry combnations we must go to life itself, wich is always far mor daring than any efrt of th imajnation."
"A proposition wich I took th librty of doutng."
"U did, Doctr, but non th less u must com round to my vew, for othrwise I shal keep on piling fact upon fact on u until yr reasn breks down undr them and aknolejs me to be ryt.
Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good enuf to cal upon me this mornng, and to begin a narativ wich promises to be one of th most singulr wich I hav lisnd to for som time.
U hav herd me remark that th stranjest and most uniqe things ar very ofn conectd not with
Th portly client pufd out his chest with an apearnce of som litl pride and puld a dirty and rinkld newspaper from th inside poket of his gretcoat.
As he glanced down th advertismnt colum, with his hed thrust forwrd and th paper flatnd out upon his ne, I took a good look at th man and endevrd, aftr th fashn of my companion, to red th indications wich myt be presentd by his dress or apearnce.
I did not gain very much, howevr, by my inspection.
Our visitr bor evry mark of being an avraj comnplace British tradesman, obese, pompus, and slo.
He wor rathr baggy gray shepherd's chek trousrs, a not over-clean blak frockcoat, unbutnd in th front, and a drab waistcoat with a hevy brassy Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metl danglng down as an ornmnt.
A frayd top-hat and a faded brown overcoat with a rinkld velvet colr lay upon a chair beside him.
Altogethr, look as I wud, ther was nothing remarkbl about th man save his blazing red hed, and th expression of extreme chagrin and discontent upon his featurs.
Sherlock Holmes's quik y took in my ocupation, and he shook his hed with a smile as he noticed my questionng glances.
"Beyond th obvius facts that he has at som time don manul labor, that he takes snuf, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has don a considrbl amount of riting lately, I can deduce nothing else."
Mr. Jabez Wilson startd up in his chair, with his forfingr upon th paper, but his ys upon my companion.
"How, in th name of good-fortune, did u no al that, Mr. Holmes?" he askd.
"How did u no, for exampl, that I did manul labor?
It's as tru as gospel, for I began as a ship's carpntr."
"Yr hands, my dear sir.
Yr ryt hand is quite a size larjr than yr left.
U hav workd with it, and th musls ar mor developd."
"Wel, th snuf, then, and th Fremasonry?"
"I wont insult yr intelijnce by telng u how I red that, especialy as, rathr against th strict rules of yr ordr, u use an arc-and-compas breastpin."
"Ah, of corse, I forgot that.
But th riting?"
"Wat else can be indicated by that ryt cuf so very shiny for five inchs, and th left one with th smooth pach near th elbo wher u rest it upon th desk?"
"Wel, but China?"
Th fish that u hav tatood imediatly abov yr ryt rist cud only hav been don in China.
I hav made a smal study of tatoo marks and hav even contributed to th litratur of th subject.
That trik of stainng th fishes' scales of a delicat pink is quite peculir to China.
Wen, in adition, I se a Chinese coin hangng from yr wach-chain, th matr becoms even mor simpl."
Mr. Jabez Wilson lafd hevily.
"Wel, I nevr!" said he.
"I thot at first that u had don somthing clevr, but I se that ther was nothing in it, aftr al."
"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, that I make a mistake in explainng.
"Omne ignotum pro magnifico," u no, and my poor litl reputation, such as it is, wil sufr shiprek if I am so candid.
Can u not find th advertismnt, Mr. Wilson?"
"Yes, I hav got it now," he ansrd with his thik red fingr plantd halfway down th colum.
"Here it is.
This is wat began it al.
U just red it for yrself, sir."
I took th paper from him and red as folos.
TO TH RED-HEDD LEAG: On acount of th bequest of th late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebnn, Penslvania, U. S. A., ther is now anothr vacancy open wich entitles a membr of th Leag to a salry of 4 pounds a week for purely nomnl services.
"Wat on erth dos this mean?" I ejaculated aftr I had twice red over th extrordnry anouncemnt.
Holmes chukld and rigld in his chair, as was his habit wen in hy spirits.
"It is a litl off th beatn trak, isnt it?" said he.
"And now, Mr. Wilson, off u go at scrach and tel us al about yrself, yr houshold, and th efect wich this advertismnt had upon yr fortunes.
U wil first make a note, Doctr, of th paper and th date."
"It is Th Mornng Cronicl of April 27, 1890.
Just two months ago."
Now, Mr. Wilson?"
"Wel, it is just as I hav been telng u, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Jabez Wilson, mopng his forhed; "I hav a smal pawnbroker's busness at Coburg Square, near th City.
It's not a very larj afair, and of late years it has not don mor than just giv me a livng.
I used to be able to keep two asistnts, but now I only keep one; and I wud hav a job to pay him but that he is wilng to com for half wajes so as to lern th busness."
"Wat is th name of this oblijing yuth?" askd Sherlock Holmes.
"His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not such a yuth, eithr.
It's hard to say his aje.
I shud not wish a smartr asistnt, Mr. Holmes; and I no very wel that he cud betr himself and ern twice wat I am able to giv him.
But, aftr al, if he is satisfyd, wy shud I put ideas in his hed?"
U seem most fortunat in havng an employee ho coms undr th ful market price.
It is not a comn experience among employrs in this aje.
I dont no that yr asistnt is not as remarkbl as yr advertismnt."
"O, he has his falts, too," said Mr. Wilson.
"Nevr was such a felo for fotografy.
Snapng away with a camra wen he ot to be improving his mind, and then diving down into th celr like a rabit into its hole to develop his picturs.
That is his main falt, but on th hole he's a good workr.
Ther's no vice in him."
"He is stil with u, I presume?"
He and a girl of forteen, ho dos a bit of simpl cookng and keeps th place clean -- that's al I hav in th house, for I am a widoer and nevr had any famly.
We liv very quietly, sir, th thre of us; and we keep a roof over our heds and pay our dets, if we do nothing mor.
"Th first thing that put us out was that advertismnt.
Spaulding, he came down into th ofice just this day eit weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says:
""I wish to th Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-hedd man."
""Wy that?" I asks.
" "Wy," says he, `here's anothr vacancy on th Leag of th Red-hedd
""Wy, wat is it, then?" I askd.
Mr. Holmes, I am a very stay-at-home man, and as my busness came to me insted of my havng to go to it, I was ofn weeks on end without putng my foot over th dor-mat.
In that way I didnt no much of wat was going on outside, and I was always glad of a bit of news.
""Hav u nevr herd of th Leag of th Red-hedd Men?" he askd with his ys open.
" `Wy, [ wondr at that, for u ar elijbl yrself for one of th vacancis."
""And wat ar they worth?" I askd.
" "O, merely a cupl of hundred a year, but th work is slyt, and it need not intrfere very much with one's othr ocupations."
"Wel, u can esily think that that made me prik up my ears, for th busness has not been over-good for som years, and an extra cupl of hundred wud hav been very handy.
""Tel me al about it," said I.
" "Wel" said he, shoing me th advertismnt, "u can se for yrself that th Leag has a vacancy, and ther is th adress wher u shud aply for particulrs.
As far as I can make out, th Leag was foundd by an Americn milionair.
Ezekiah Hopkins, ho was very peculir in his ways.
He was himself red-hedd, and he had a gret sympathy for al redhedd men; so wen he died it was found that he had left his enormus fortune in th hands of trusts, with instructions to aply th intrest to th providing of esy berths to men hos hair is of that color.
From al I hear it is splendid pay and very litl to do."
""But," said I, `ther wud be milions of red-hedd men ho wud aply."
""Not so many as u myt think," he ansrd.
"U se it is realy confined to Londnrs, and to grown men.
This Americn had startd from Londn wen he was yung, and he wantd to do th old town a good turn.
Then, again, I hav herd it is no use yr aplyng if yr hair is lyt red, or dark red, or anything but real bryt, blazing, firy red.
Now, if u cared to aply, Mr. Wilson, u wud just walk in; but perhaps it wud hardly be worth yr wile to put yrself out of th way for th sake of a few hundred pounds."
"Now, it is a fact, jentlmen, as u may se for yrselvs, that my hair is of a very ful and rich tint, so that it seemd to me that if ther was to be any competition in th matr I stood as good a chance as any man that I had evr met.
Vincent Spaulding seemd to no so much about it that I thot he myt prove useful, so I just ordrd him to put up th shutrs for th day and to com ryt away with me.
He was very wilng to hav a holiday, so we shut th busness up and startd off for th adress that was givn us in th advertismnt.
"I nevr hope to se such a syt as that again, Mr. Holmes.
From north, south, east, and west evry man ho had a shade of red in his hair had trampd into th city to ansr th advertismnt.
Fleet Street was choked with red-hedd folk, and Pope's Cort lookd like a coster's oranj baro.
I shud not hav thot ther wer so many in th hole cuntry as wer brot togethr by that singl advertismnt.
Evry shade of color they wer -- straw, lemn, oranj, brik, Irish-setr, livr, clay; but, as Spaulding said, ther wer not many ho had th real vivid flame-colord tint.
Wen I saw how many wer waitng, I wud hav givn it up in despair; but Spaulding wud not hear of it.
How he did it I cud not imajn, but he pushd and puld and butd until he got me thru th crowd, and ryt up to th steps wich led to th ofice.
Ther was a dubl stream upon th stair, som going up in hope, and som comng bak dejectd; but we wejd in as wel as we cud and soon found ourselvs in th ofice."
"Yr experience has been a most entrtainng one," remarkd Holmes as his client pausd and refreshd his memry with a huje pinch of snuf.
"Pray continu yr very intrestng statemnt."
"Ther was nothing in th ofice but a cupl of woodn chairs and a deal table, behind wich sat a smal man with a hed that was even redr than mine.
He said a few words to each candidat as he came up, and then he always manajd to find som falt in them wich wud disqualify them.
Getng a vacancy did not seem to be such a very esy matr, aftr al.
Howevr, wen our turn came th litl man was much mor favorabl to me than to any of th othrs, and he closed th dor as
we entrd, so that he myt hav a privat word with us.
""This is Mr. Jabez Wilson," said my asistnt, "and he is wilng to fil a vacancy in th Leag."
""And he is admrbly suitd for it," th othr ansrd.
"He has evry requiremnt.
I canot recal wen I hav seen anything so fine."
He took a step bakwrd, cokd his hed on one side, and gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful.
Then sudnly he plunjd forwrd, rung my hand, and congratulated me warmly on my success.
""It wud be injustice to hesitate," said he.
"U wil, howevr, I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvius precaution."
With that he sezed my hair in both his hands, and tugd until I yeld with th pain.
"Ther is watr in yr ys," said he as he relesed me.
"I perceve that al is as it shud be.
But we hav to be careful, for we hav twice been deceved by wigs and once by paint.
I cud tel u tales of cobbler's wax wich wud disgust u with human natur."
He stepd over to th windo and shoutd thru it at th top of his voice that th vacancy was fild.
A groan of disapointmnt came up from belo, and th folk al troopd away in difrnt directions until ther was not a red-hed to be seen exept my own and that of th manajr.
""My name," said he, `is Mr. Duncn Ross, and I am myself one of th pensionrs upon th fund left by our noble benefactr.
Ar u a marrid man, Mr. Wilson?
Hav u a famly?"
"I ansrd that I had not.
" His face fel imediatly.
""Dear me!" he said gravely, `that is very serius indeed!
I am sorry to hear
"My face lengthnd at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thot that I was not to hav th vacancy aftr al; but aftr thinkng it over for a few minuts he said that it wud be al ryt.
""In th case of anothr," said he, `th objection myt be fatal, but we must strech a point in favor of a man with such a hed of hair as yrs.
Wen shal u be able to entr upon yr new dutis?"
""Wel, it is a litl awkwrd, for I hav a busness alredy," said I.
""O, nevr mind about that, Mr. Wilson!" said Vincent Spaulding.
"I shud be able to look aftr that for u."
""Wat wud be th ours?" I askd.
" "Ten to two."
"Now a pawnbroker's busness is mostly don of an evenng, Mr. Holmes, especialy Thursday and Friday evenng, wich is just befor pay-day; so it wud suit me very wel to ern a litl in th mornngs.
Besides, I new that my asistnt was a good man, and that he wud se to anything that turnd up.
""That wud suit me very wel," said I.
"And th pay?"
""Is 4 pounds a week."
" `And th work?"
""Is purely nomnl."
" `Wat do u cal purely nomnl?"
""Wel, u hav to be in th ofice, or at least in th bildng, th hole time.
If u leve, u forfit yr hole position forevr.
Th wil is very clear upon that point.
U dont comply with th conditions if u buj from th ofice during that time."
""It's only four ours a day, and I shud not think of leving," said I.
""No excuse wil avail," said Mr. Duncn Ross; "neithr sikness nor busness nor anything else.
Ther u must stay, or u lose yr bilet."
""And th work?"
" `Is to copy out th Encyclopedia Britanica.
Ther is th first volume of it in that press.
U must find yr own ink, pens, and blotng-paper, but we provide this table and chair.
Wil u be redy to-moro?"
""Certnly," I ansrd.
" "Then, good-by, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratulate u once mor on th importnt position wich u hav been fortunat enuf to gain."
He bowd me out of th room and I went home with my asistnt, hardly noing wat to say or do, I was so plesed at my own good fortune.
"Wel, I thot over th matr al day, and by evenng I was in lo spirits again; for I had quite persuaded myself that th hole afair must be som gret hoax or fraud, tho wat its object myt be I cud not imajn.
It seemd altogethr past belief that anyone cud make such a wil, or that they wud pay such a sum for doing anything so simpl as copying out th Encyclopedia Britanica.
Vincent Spaulding did wat he cud to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had reasnd myself out of th hole thing.
Howevr, in th mornng I determnd to hav a look at it anyhow, so I bot a penny botl of ink, and with a quil-pen, and sevn sheets of foolscap paper, I startd off for Pope's Cort.
"Wel, to my surprise and delyt, everything was as ryt as posbl.
Th table was set out redy for me, and Mr. Duncn Ross was ther to se that I got fairly to work.
He startd me off upon th letr A, and then he left me; but he wud drop in from time to time to se that al was ryt with me.
At two oclok he bad me good-day, complimntd me upon th amount that I had ritn, and lokd th dor of th ofice aftr me.
"This went on day aftr day, Mr. Holmes, and on Satrday th manajr came in and planked down four goldn sovrens for my week's work.
It was th same next week, and th same th week aftr.
Evry mornng I was ther at ten, and evry aftrnoon I left at two.
By degrees Mr. Duncn Ross took to comng in only once of a mornng, and then, aftr a time, he did not com in at al.
Stil, of corse, I nevr dared to leve th room for an instnt, for I was not sure wen he myt com, and th bilet was such a good one, and suitd me so wel, that I wud not risk th loss of it.
"Eit weeks pasd away like this, and I had ritn about Abots and Archry and Armr and Architectur and Attica, and hoped with dilijnce that I myt get on to th B's befor very long.
It cost me somthing in foolscap, and I had pretty nearly fild a shelf with my ritings.
And then sudnly th hole busness came to an end."
"To an end?"
And no later than this mornng.
I went to my work as usul at ten oclok, but th dor was shut and lokd, with a litl square of card-bord hamrd on to th midl of th panl with a tak.
Here it is, and u can red for yrself."
He held up a pece of wite card-bord about th size of a sheet of note-paper.
It red in this fashn:
TH RED-HEDD LEAG IS DISOLVD.
October 9, 1890.
Sherlock Holmes and I surveyd this curt anouncemnt and th ruful face behind it, until th comicl side of th afair so completely overtopped evry othr considration that we both burst out into a ror of laftr.
"I canot se that ther is anything very funny," cryd our client, flushng up to th roots of his flaming hed.
"If u can do nothing betr than laf at me, I can go elswher."
"No, no," cryd Holmes, shovng him bak into th chair from wich he had half risn.
"I realy wudnt miss yr case for th world.
It is most refreshngly unusul.
But ther is, if u wil excuse my sayng so, somthing just a litl funny about it.
Pray wat steps did u take wen u found th card upon th dor?"
"I was stagrd, sir.
I did not no wat to do.
Then I cald at th ofices round, but non of them seemd to no anything about it.
Finaly, I went to th landlord, ho is an acountnt livng on th ground-flor, and I askd him if he cud tel me wat had becom of th Red-hedd
He said that he had nevr herd of any such body.
Then I askd him ho Mr. Duncn Ross was.
He ansrd that th name was new to him.
""Wel," said I, `th jentlman at No. 4.'
" "Wat, th red-hedd man?"
" `O,' said he, "his name was Wiliam Morris.
He was a solicitr and was using my room as a tempry convenience until his new premises wer redy.
He moved out yestrday."
""Wher cud I find him?"
" "O, at his new ofices.
He did tel me th adress.
Yes, 17 King Edwrd Street, near St. Paul's."
"I startd off, Mr. Holmes, but wen I got to that adress it was a manufactory of artificial ne-caps, and no one in it had evr herd of eithr Mr. Wiliam Morris or Mr. Duncn Ross."
"And wat did u do then?" askd Holmes.
"I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took th advice of my asistnt.
But he cud not help me in any way.
He cud only say that if I waitd I shud hear by post.
But that was not quite good enuf, Mr. Holmes.
I did not wish to lose such a place without a strugl, so, as I had herd that u wer good enuf to giv advice to poor folk ho wer in need of it, I came ryt away to u."
"And u did very wisely," said Holmes.
"Yr case is an exeedngly remarkbl one, and I shal be happy to look into it.
From wat u hav told me I think that it is posbl that graver isus hang from it than myt at first syt apear."
"Grave enuf!" said Mr. Jabez Wilson.
Wy, I hav lost four pound a week."
"As far as u ar persnly concernd," remarkd Holmes, "I do not se that u hav any grevence against this extrordnry leag.
On th contry, u ar, as I undrstand, richr by som thirty pounds, to say nothing of th minut nolej wich u hav gaind on evry subject wich coms undr th letr A.
U hav lost nothing by them."
But I want to find out about them, and ho they ar, and wat ther object was in playng this prank -- if it was a prank -- upon me.
It was a pretty expensiv joke for them, for it cost them two and thirty pounds."
"We shal endevr to clear up these points for u.
And, first, one or two questions, Mr. Wilson.
This asistnt of yrs ho first cald yr atention to th advertismnt -- how long had he been with u?"
"About a month then."
How did he com?"
"In ansr to an advertismnt."
Was he th only aplicnt?"
"No, I had a dozn."
Wy did u pik him?"
"Because he was handy and wud com cheap."
"At half-wajes, in fact."
Wat is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?"
"Smal, stout-bilt, very quik in his ways, no hair on his face, tho he's not short of thirty.
Has a wite splash of acid upon his forhed."
Holmes sat up in his chair in considrbl exitemnt.
"I thot as much," said he.
Hav u evr observd that his ears ar pierced for earings?"
He told me that a jipsy had don it for him wen he was a lad."
"Hum!" said Holmes, sinkng bak in deep thot.
"He is stil with u?"
"O, yes, sir; I hav only just left him."
"And has yr busness been atendd to in yr absnce?"
"Nothing to complain of, sir.
Ther's nevr very much to do of a mornng."
"That wil do, Mr. Wilson.
I shal be happy to giv u an opinion upon th subject in th corse of a day or two.
To-day is Satrday, and I hope that by Monday we may com to a conclusion."
"Wel, Watson," said Holmes wen our visitr had left us, "wat do u make of it al?"
"I make nothing of it," I ansrd frankly.
"It is a most mysterius busness."
"As a rule," said Holmes, th mor bizar a thing is th less mysterius it proves to be.
It is yr comnplace, featurless crimes wich ar realy puzlng, just as a comnplace face is th most dificlt to identify.
But I must be promt over this matr."
"Wat ar u going to do, then?" I askd.
"To smoke," he ansrd.
It is quite a thre pipe problm, and I beg that u wont speak to me for fifty minuts."
He curld himself up in his chair, with his thin nes drawn up to his hawk-like nose, and ther he sat with his ys closed and his blak clay pipe thrustng out like th bil of som stranje bird.
I had com to th conclusion that he had dropd asleep, and indeed was nodng myself, wen he sudnly sprang out of his chair with th jestur of a man ho has made up his mind and put his pipe down upon th mantlpece.
"Sarasate plays at th St. James's Hal this aftrnoon," he remarkd.
"Wat do u think, Watson?
Cud yr patients spare u for a few ours?"
"I hav nothing to do
"Then put on yr hat and com.
I am going thru th City first, and we can hav som lunch on th way.
I observ that ther is a good deal of Jermn music on th program, wich is rathr mor to my taste than Italian or French.
It is introspectiv, and I want to introspect.
We travld by th Undrground as far as Aldrsgate; and a short walk took us to Saxe-Coburg Square, th sene of th singulr story wich we had lisnd to in th mornng.
It was a poky, litl, shabby-jenteel place, wher four lines of dinjy two-storied brik houses lookd out into a smal raild-in enclosur, wher a lawn of weedy grass and a few clumps of faded laurel-bushs made a hard fyt against a smoke-laden and unconjenial atmosfere.
Thre gilt bals and a brown bord with "JABEZ WILSON" in wite letrs, upon a cornr house, anounced th place wher our red-hedd client carrid on his busness.
Sherlock Holmes stopd in front of it with his hed on one side and lookd it al over, with his ys shining brytly between pukrd lids.
Then he walkd sloly up th street, and then down again to th cornr, stil lookng keenly at th houses.
Finaly he returnd to th pawnbroker's, and, havng thumpd vigrusly upon th pavemnt with his stik two or thre times, he went up to th dor and nokd.
It was instntly opend by a bryt-lookng, clean-shaven yung felo, ho askd him to step in.
"Thank u," said Holmes, I only wishd to ask u how u wud go from here to th Strand."
"Third ryt, fourth left," ansrd th asistnt promtly, closing th dor.
"Smart felo, that," observd Holmes as we walkd away.
"He is, in my jujmnt, th fourth smartst man in Londn, and for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third.
I hav nown somthing of him befor."
"Evidntly," said I, Mr. Wilson's asistnt counts for a good deal in this mystry of th Red-hedd Leag.
I am sure that u inquired yr way merely in ordr that u myt se him."
"Th nes of his trousrs."
And wat did u se?"
"Wat I expectd to se."
Wy did u beat th pavemnt?"
"My dear doctr, this is a time for obsrvation, not for talk.
We ar spys in an enemy's cuntry.
We no somthing of Saxe-Coburg Square.
Let us now explor th parts wich lie behind it."
Th road in wich we found ourselvs as we turnd round th cornr from th retired Saxe-Coburg Square presentd as gret a contrast to it as th front of a pictur dos to th bak.
It was one of th main artris wich conveyd th trafic of th City to th north and west.
Th roadway was blokd with th imense stream of comerce floing in a dubl tide inwrd and outwrd, wile th footpaths wer blak with th hurrying swarm of pedestrians.
It was dificlt to realize as we lookd at th line of fine shops and stately busness premises that
"Let me se," said Holmes, standng at th cornr and glancing along th line, "I shud like just to remembr th ordr of th houses here.
It is a hobby of mine to hav an exact nolej of Londn.
Ther is Mortimer's, th tobacconist, th litl newspaper shop, th Coburg branch of th City and Suburbn Bank, th Vejetarian Restran, and Mcfarlane's carrij-bildng depo.
That carris us ryt on to th othr blok.
And now, Doctr, we'v don our work, so it's time we had som play.
A sanwich and a cup of cofee, and then off to violin-land, wher al is sweetness and delicacy and harmny, and ther ar no red-hedd clients to vex us with ther conundrums."
My frend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not only a very capabl performr but a composer of no ordnry merit.
Al th aftrnoon he sat in th stals rapd in th most perfect happiness, jently waving his long, thin fingrs in time to th music, wile his jently smiling face and his languid, dreamy ys wer as unlike those of Holmes, th sluth-hound, Holmes th relentless, keen-witted, redy-handd crimnl ajent, as it was posbl to conceve.
In his singulr caractr th dual natur alternatly asertd itself, and his extreme exactness and astuteness representd, as I hav ofn thot, th reaction against th poetic and contmplativ mood wich ocasionly predomnated in him.
Th swing of his natur took him from extreme langr to devourng enrjy; and, as I new wel, he was nevr so truly formidbl as wen, for days on end, he had been lounjng in his armchair amid his improvisations and his blak-letr editions.
Then it was that th lust of th chase wud
sudnly com upon him, and that his briliant reasnng powr wud rise to th levl of intuition, until those ho wer unaquaintd with his methods wud look askance at him as on a man hos nolej was not that of othr mortls.
Wen I saw him that aftrnoon so enwrapped in th music at St. James's Hal I felt that an evil time myt be comng upon those hom he had set himself to hunt down.
"U want to go home, no dout, Doctr," he remarkd as we emerjd.
"Yes, it wud be as wel."
And I hav som busness to do wich wil take som ours.
This busness at Coburg Square is serius."
A considrbl crime is in contmplation.
I hav evry reasn to beleve that we shal be in time to stop it.
But to-day being Satrday rathr complicates matrs.
I shal want yr help to-nyt."
"At wat time?"
Ten wil be erly enuf."
"I shal be at Baker Street at ten."
And, I say, Doctr, ther may be som litl danjer, so kindly put yr army revolvr in yr poket."
He waved his hand, turnd on his heel, and disapeard in an instnt among th crowd.
I trust that I am not mor dense than my neibrs, but I was always opresd with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealngs with Sherlock Holmes.
Here I had herd wat he had herd, I had seen wat he had seen, and yet from his words it was evidnt that he saw clearly not only wat had hapnd but wat was about to hapn, wile to me th hole busness was stil confused and grotesq.
As I drove home to my house in Kensngtn I thot over it al,
It was a quartr-past nine wen I startd from home and made my way across th Park, and so thru Oxfrd Street to Baker Street.
Two hansoms wer standng at th dor, and as I entrd th passaj I herd th sound of voices from abov.
On entrng his room I found Holmes in anmated convrsation with two men, one of hom I recognized as Peter Jones, th oficial police ajent, wile th othr was a long, thin, sad-faced man, with a very shiny hat and opressivly respectbl frok-coat.
Our party is complete," said Holmes, butnng up his peajacket and taking his hevy huntng crop from th rak.
"Watson, I think u no Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard?
Let me introduce u to Mr. Merryweather, ho is to be our companion in to-night's adventur."
"We'r huntng in cupls again, Doctr, u se," said Jones in his consequential way.
"Our frend here is a wondrful man for startng a chase.
Al he wants is an old dog to help him to do th runng down."
"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be th end of our chase," observd Mr. Merryweather gloomily.
"U may place considrbl confidnce in Mr. Holmes, sir," said th police ajent loftily.
"He has his own litl methods, wich ar, if he wont mind my sayng so, just a litl too theoreticl and fantastic, but he has th makings of a detectiv in him.
It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in that busness of th Sholto murdr and th Agra tresur, he has been mor nearly corect than th oficial force."
"O, if u say so, Mr. Jones, it is al ryt," said th stranjer with defrnce.
"Stil, I confess that I miss my rubr.
It is th first Satrday nyt for sevn-and-twenty years that I hav not had my rubr."
"I think u wil find," said Sherlock Holmes, "that u wil play for a hyr stake to-nyt than u hav evr don yet, and that th play wil be mor exiting.
For u, Mr. Merryweather, th stake wil be som 30,000 pounds; and for u, Jones, it wil be th man upon hom u wish to lay yr hands."
"Jon Clay, th murdrr, thief, smashr, and forjr.
He's a yung man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at th hed of his profession, and I wud rathr hav my bracelets on him than on any crimnl in Londn.
He's a remarkbl man, is yung Jon Clay.
His granfathr was a royl duke, and he himself has been to Eton and Oxfrd.
His brain is as cunng as his fingrs, and tho we meet syns of him at evry turn, we nevr no wher to find th man himself.
He'l crak a crib in Scotland one week, and be rasing mony to bild an orfnaj in Cornwal th next.
I'v been on his trak for years and hav nevr set ys on him yet."
"I hope that I may hav th plesur of introducing u to-nyt.
I'v had one or two litl turns also with Mr. Jon Clay, and I agree with u that he is at th hed of his profession.
It is past ten, howevr, and quite time that we startd.
If u two wil take th first hansom, Watson and I wil folo in th secnd."
Sherlock Holmes was not very comunicativ during th long drive and lay bak in th cab humng th tunes wich he had herd in th aftrnoon.
We ratld thru an endless labrinth of gas-lit streets until we emerjd into Farrington Street.
"We ar close ther now," my frend remarkd.
"This felo Merryweather is a bank directr, and persnly intrestd in th matr.
I thot it as wel to hav Jones with us also.
He is not a bad felo, tho an abslute imbecile in his profession.
He has one positiv virtu.
He is as brave as a buldog and as tenacius as a lobstr if he gets his claws upon anyone.
Here we ar, and they ar waitng for us."
We had reachd th same crowdd thorofare in wich we had found ourselvs in th mornng.
Our cabs wer dismisd, and, foloing th gidance of Mr. Merryweather, we pasd down a naro passaj and thru a side dor, wich he opend for us.
Within ther was a smal coridr, wich endd in a very massiv iron gate.
This also was opend, and led down a flyt of windng stone steps, wich termnated at
"U ar not very vulnrbl from abov," Holmes remarkd as he held up th lantrn and gazed about him.
"Nor from belo," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stik upon th flags wich lined th flor.
"Wy, dear me, it sounds quite holo!" he remarkd, lookng up in surprise.
"I must realy ask u to be a litl mor quiet!" said Holmes severely.
"U hav alredy imperild th hole success of our expedition.
Myt I beg that u wud hav th goodness to sit down upon one of those boxs, and not to intrfere?"
Th solem Mr.
Merryweather perchd himself upon a crate, with a very injrd expression upon his face, wile Holmes fel upon his nes upon th flor and, with th lantrn and a magnifyng lens, began to examn minutely th craks between th stones.
A few secnds suficed to satisfy him, for he sprang to his feet again and put his glass in his poket.
"We hav at least an our befor us," he remarkd, "for they can hardly take any steps until th good pawnbroker is safely in bed.
Then they wil not lose a minut, for th soonr they do ther work th longr time they wil hav for ther escape.
We ar at presnt, Doctr -- as no dout u hav divined -- in th celr of th City branch of one of th principl Londn banks.
Mr. Merryweather is th chairman of directrs, and he wil explain to u that ther ar reasns wy th mor daring crimnls of Londn shud take a considrbl intrest in this celr at presnt."
"It is our French gold," wisprd th directr.
"We hav had sevrl warnngs that an atemt myt be made upon it."
"Yr French gold?"
We had ocasion som months ago to strengthn our resorces and borod for that purpos 30,000 napoleons from th Bank of France.
It has becom nown that we hav nevr had ocasion to unpak th mony, and that it is stil lyng in our celr.
Th crate upon wich I sit contains 2,000 napoleons pakd between layrs of led foil.
Our reserv of bulion is much larjr at presnt than is usuly kept in a singl branch ofice, and th directrs hav had misgivngs upon th subject."
"Wich wer very wel justifyd," observd Holmes.
"And now it is time that we aranjed our litl plans.
I expect that within an our matrs wil com to a hed.
In th meantime Mr. Merryweather, we must put th screen over that dark lantrn."
"And sit in th dark?"
I am afraid so.
I had brot a pak of cards in my poket, and I thot that, as we wer a partie carree, u myt hav yr rubr aftr al.
But I se that th enemy's preprations hav gon so far that we canot risk th presnce of a lyt.
I placed my revolvr, cokd, upon th top of th woodn case behind wich I crouchd.
Holmes shot th slide across th front of his lantrn and left us in pich darkns -- such an abslute darkns as I hav nevr befor experienced.
Th smel of hot metl remaind to asure us that th lyt was stil ther, redy to flash out at a moment's notice.
To me, with my nervs workd up to a pich of expectncy, ther was somthing depresng and subduing in th sudn gloom, and in th cold dank air of th valt.
"They hav but one retreat," wisprd Holmes.
"That is bak thru th house into Saxe-Coburg Square.
I hope that u hav don wat I askd u, Jones?"
"I hav an inspectr and two oficers waitng at th front dor."
"Then we hav stopd al th holes.
And now we must be silent and wait."
Wat a time it seemd!
From comparing notes aftrwrds it was but an our and a quartr, yet it apeard to me that th nyt must hav almost gon, and th dawn be brekng abov us.
My lims wer weary and stif, for I feard to chanje my position; yet my nervs wer workd up to th hyest pich of tension, and my hearng was so acute that I cud not only hear th jentl brething of my companions, but I cud distinguish th deepr, hevir in-breth of th bulky Jones from th thin, syng note of th bank directr.
From my position I cud look over th case in th direction of th flor.
Sudnly my ys caut th glint of a lyt.
At first it was but a lurid spark upon th stone pavemnt.
Then it lengthnd out until it became a yelo line, and then, without any warnng or sound, a gash seemd to open and a hand apeard; a wite, almost womnly hand, wich felt about in th centr of th litl area of lyt.
For a minut or mor th hand, with its rithing fingrs, protruded out of th flor.
Then it was withdrawn as sudnly as it apeard, and al was dark again save th singl lurid spark wich markd a chink between th stones.
Its disapearnce, howevr, was but momentry.
With a rendng, terng sound, one of th brod, wite stones turnd over upon its side and left a square, gaping hole, thru wich streamd th lyt of a lantrn.
Over th ej ther peepd a clean-cut, boyish face, wich lookd keenly about it, and then, with a hand on eithr side of th aprtur, drew itself sholdr-hy and waist-hy, until one ne restd upon th ej.
In anothr instnt he stood at th side of th hole and was haulng aftr him a companion, lithe and smal like himself, with a pale face and a shok of very red hair.
"It's al clear," he wisprd.
Hav u th chisl and th bags?
Jump, Archi, jump, and I'l swing for it!"
Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and sezed th intruder by th colr.
Th othr dived down th hole, and I herd th sound of rendng cloth as Jones cluchd at his skirts.
Th lyt flashd upon th barel of a revolvr, but Holmes's huntng crop came down on th man's rist, and th pistl clinkd upon th stone flor.
"It's no use, Jon Clay," said Holmes blandly.
"U hav no chance at al."
"So I se," th othr ansrd with th utmost coolness.
"I fancy that my pal is al ryt, tho I se u hav got his coat-tails."
"Ther ar thre men waitng for him at th dor," said Holmes.
U seem to hav don th thing very completely.
I must complmnt u."
"And I u," Holmes ansrd.
Yr red-hedd idea was very new and efectiv."
"U'l se yr pal again presntly," said Jones.
"He's quikr at climbng down holes than I am.
Just hold out wile I fix th derbies."
"I beg that u wil not tuch me with yr filthy hands," remarkd our prisnr as th handcufs clatrd upon his rists.
"U may not be aware that I hav royl blod in my veins.
Hav th goodness, also, wen u adress me always to say "sir" and `plese.'"
"Al ryt," said Jones with a stare and a snigr.
"Wel, wud u plese, sir, march upstairs, wher we can get a cab to carry yr Hyness to th police-station?"
"That is betr," said Jon Clay serenely.
He made a sweepng bo to th thre of us and walkd quietly off in th custody of th detectiv.
"Realy, Mr. Holmes," said Mr. Merryweather,
as we folod them from th celr, "I do not no how th bank can thank u or repay u.
Ther is no dout that u hav detectd and defeatd in th most complete manr one of th most determnd atemts at bank robry that hav evr com within my experience."
"I hav had one or two litl scors of my own to setl with Mr. Jon Clay," said Holmes.
"I hav been at som smal expense over this matr, wich I shal expect th bank to refund, but beyond that I am amply repaid by havng had an experience wich is in many ways uniqe, and by hearng th very remarkbl narativ of th Red-hedd Leag."
"U se, Watson," he explaind in th erly ours of th mornng as we sat over a glass of wisky and soda in Baker Street, "it was perfectly obvius from th first that th only posbl object of this rathr fantastic busness of th advertismnt of th Leag, and th copying of th Encyclopedia, must be to get this not over-bryt pawnbroker out of th way for a numbr of ours evry day.
It was a curius way of manajng it, but, realy, it wud be dificlt to sujest a betr.
Th method was no dout sujestd to Clay's injenius mind by th color of his accomplice's hair.
Th 4 pounds a week was a lure wich must draw him, and wat was it to them, ho wer playng for thousnds?
They put in th advertismnt, one roge has th tempry ofice, th othr roge incites th man to aply for it, and togethr they manaj to secure his absnce evry mornng in th week.
From th time that I herd of th asistnt havng com for half wajes, it was obvius to me that he had som strong motiv for securing th situation."
"But how cud u gess wat th motiv was?"
"Had ther been women in th house, I shud hav suspectd a mere vulgr intrige.
That, howevr, was out of th question.
Th man's busness was a smal one, and ther was nothing in his house wich cud acount for such elabrat preprations, and such an expenditur as they wer at.
It must, then, be somthing out of th house.
Wat cud it be?
I thot of th assistant's fondness for fotografy, and his trik of vanishng into th celr.
Ther was th end of this tangld clu.
Then I made inquiris as to this mysterius asistnt and found that I had to deal with one of th coolest and most daring crimnls in Londn.
He was doing somthing in th celr -- somthing wich took many ours a day for months on end.
Wat cud it be, once mor?
I cud think of nothing save that he was runng a tunl to som othr bildng.
"So far I had got wen we went to visit th sene of action.
I surprised u by beatng upon th pavemnt with my stik.
I was ascertaining wethr th celr strechd out in front or behind.
"And how cud u tel that they wud make ther atemt to-nyt?" I askd.
"Wel, wen they closed ther Leag ofices that was a syn that they cared no longr about Mr. Jabez Wilson's presnce -- in othr words, that they had completed ther tunl.
But it was esential that they shud use it soon, as it myt be discovrd, or th bulion myt be removed.
Satrday wud suit them betr than any othr day, as it wud giv them two days for ther escape.
For al these reasns I expectd them to com to-nyt."
"U reasnd it out butifuly," I exclaimd in unfeigned admration "It is so long a chain, and yet evry link rings tru."
"It saved me from enui," he ansrd, yawnng.
I alredy feel it closing in upon me.
My life is spent in one long efrt to escape from th commonplaces of existnce.
These litl problms help me to do so."
"And u ar a benefactr of th race," said I.
He shrugd his sholdrs.
"Wel, perhaps, aftr al, it is of som litl use," he remarkd.
""L'homme c'est rien -- l'oeuvre c'est tout," as Gustav Flaubert rote to Jorj Sand."