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The Adventure of the Retired Colourman

Baring-Goulds Chronology: Thur, Jul 28 to Sat, Jul 30, 1898
             The Adventure of the Retired Colourman

  Sherlock Holmes was in a melancholy and philosophic mood
that morning. His alert practical nature was subject to such
reactions.
  "Did you see him?" he asked.
  "You mean the old fellow who has just gone out?"
  "Precisely."
  "Yes, I met him at the door."
  "What did you think of him?"
  "A pathetic, futile, broken creature."
  "Exactly, Watson. Pathetic and futile. But is not all life
pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole?
We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A
shadow. Or worse than a shadow -- misery."
  "Is he one of your clients?"
  "Well, I suppose I may call him so. He has been sent on by
the Yard. Just as medical men occasionally send their incurables
to a quack. They argue that they can do nothing more, and that
whatever happens the patient can be no worse than he is."
  "What is the matter?"
  Holmes took a rather soiled card from the table. "Josiah
Amberley. He says he was junior partner of Brickfall and
Amberley, who are manufacturers of artistic materials. You will
see their names upon paint-boxes. He made his little pile, retired
from business at the age of sixty-one, bought a house at Lewisham,
and settled down to rest after a life of ceaseless grind. One
would think his future was tolerably assured."
  "Yes, indeed."
  Holmes glanced over some notes which he had scribbled upon
the back of an envelope.
  "Retired in 1896, Watson. Early in 1897 he married a woman
twenty years younger than himself -- a good-looking woman, too,
if the photograph does not flatter. A competence, a wife, leisure -- it
seemed a straight road which lay before him. And yet within two
years he is, as you have seen, as broken and miserable a creature
as crawls beneath the sun."
  "But what has happened?"
  "The old story, Watson. A treacherous friend and a fickle
wife. It would appear that Amberley has one hobby in life, and it
is chess. Not far from him at Lewisham there lives a young
doctor who is also a chess-player. I have noted his name as Dr.
Ray Ernest. Ernest was frequently in the house, and an intimacy
between him and Mrs. Amberley was a natural sequence, for you
must admit that our unfortunate client has few outward graces,
whatever his inner virtues may be. The couple went off together
last week -- destination untraced. What is more, the faithless
spouse carried off the old man's deed-box as her personal lug-
gage with a good part of his life's savings within. Can we find
the lady? Can we save the money? A commonplace problem so
far as it has developed, and yet a vital one for Josiah Amberley."
  "What will you do about it?"
  "Well, the immediate question, my dear Watson, happens to
be, What will you do? -- if you will be good enough to under-
study me. You know that I am preoccupied with this case of the
two Coptic Patriarchs, which should come to a head to-day. I
really have not time to go out to Lewisham, and yet evidence
taken on the spot has a special value. The old fellow was quite
insistent that I should go, but I explained my difficulty. He is
prepared to meet a representative."
  "By all means," I answered. "I confess I don't see that I can
be of much service, but I am willing to do my best." And so it
was that on a summer afternoon I set forth to Lewisham, little
dreaming that within a week the affair in which I was engaging
would be the eager debate of all England.
  It was late that evening before I returned to Baker Street and
gave an account of my mission. Holmes lay with his gaunt figure
stretched in his deep chair, his pipe curling forth slow wreaths of
acrid tobacco, while his eyelids drooped over his eyes so lazily
that he might almost have been asleep were it not that at any halt
or questionable passage of my narrative they half lifted, and two
gray eyes, as bright and keen as rapiers, transfixed me with their
searching glance.
  "The Haven is the name of Mr. Josiah Amberley's house," I
explained. "I think it would interest you, Holmes. It is like some
penurious patrician who has sunk into the company of his inferi-
ors. You know that particular quarter, the monotonous brick
streets, the weary suburban highways. Right in the middle of
them, a little island of ancient culture and comfort, lies this old
home, surrounded by a high sun-baked wall mottled with lichens
and topped with moss, the sort of wall --"
  "Cut out the poetry, Watson," said Holmes severely. "I note
that it was a high brick wall."
  "Exactly. I should not have known which was The Haven had
I not asked a lounger who was smoking in the street. I have a
reason for mentioning him. He was a tall, dark, heavily
moustached, rather military-looking man. He nodded in answer
to my inquiry and gave me a curiously questioning glance, which
came back to my memory a little later.
  "I had hardly entered the gateway before I saw Mr. Amberley
coming down the drive. I only had a glimpse of him this
morning, and he certainly gave me the impression of a strange
creature, but when I saw him in full light his appearance was
even more abnormal."
  "I have, of course, studied it, and yet I should be interested to
have your impression," said Holmes.
  "He seemed to me like a man who was literally bowed down
by care. His back was curved as though he carried a heavy
burden. Yet he was not the weakling that I had at first imagined,
for his shoulders and chest have the framework of a giant,
though his figure tapers away into a pair of spindled legs."
  "Left shoe wrinkled, right one smooth."
  "I did not observe that."
  "No, you wouldn't. I spotted his artificial limb. But proceed."
  "I was struck by the snaky locks of grizzled hair which curled
from under his old straw hat, and his face with its fierce, eager
expression and the deeply lined features."
  "Very good, Watson. What did he say?"
  "He began pouring out the story of his grievances. We walked
down the drive together, and of course I took a good look round.
I have never seen a worse-kept place. The garden was all run-
ning to seed, giving me an impression of wild neglect in which
the plants had been allowed to find the way of Nature rather than
of art. How any decent woman could have tolerated such a state
of things, I don't know. The house, too, was slatternly to the last
degree, but the poor man seemed himself to be aware of it and to
be trying to remedy it, for a great pot of green paint stood in the
centre of the hall, and he was carrying a thick brush in his left
hand. He had been working on the woodwork.
  "He took me into his dingy sanctum, and we had a long chat.
Of course, he was disappointed that you had not come yourself.
'I hardly expected,' he said, 'that so humble an individual as
myself, especially after my heavy financial loss, could obtain the
complete attention of so famous a man as Mr. Sherlock Holmes.'
  "I assured him that the financial question did not arise. 'No
of course, it is art for art's sake with him,' said he, 'but even on
the artistic side of crime he might have found something here to
study. And human nature, Dr. Watson -- the black ingratitude of
it all! When did I ever refuse one of her requests? Was ever a
woman so pampered? And that young man -- he might have been
my own son. He had the run of my house. And yet see how they
have treated me! Oh, Dr. Watson, it is a dreadful, dreadful
world!'
  "That was the burden of his song for an hour or more. He
had, it seems, no suspicion of an intrigue. They lived alone save
for a woman who comes in by the day and leaves every evening
at six. On that particular evening old Amberley, wishing to give
his wife a treat, had taken two upper circle seats at the Haymarket
Theatre. At the last moment she had complained of a headache
and had refused to go. He had gone alone. There seemed to be
no doubt about the fact, for he produced the unused ticket which
he had taken for his wife."
  "That is remarkable -- most remarkable," said Holmes, whose
interest in the case seemed to be rising. "Pray continue, Watson.
I find your narrative most arresting. Did you personally examine
this ticket? You did not, perchance, take the number?"
  "It so happens that I did," I answered with some pride. "It
chanced to be my old school number, thirty-one, and so is stuck
in my head."
  "Excellent, Watson! His seat, then, was either thirty or
thirty-two."
  "Quite so," I answered with some mystification. "And on
B row."
  "That is most satisfactory. What else did he tell you?"
  "He showed me his strong-room, as he called it. It really is a
strong-room -- like a bank -- with iron door and shutter -- burglar-
proof, as he claimed. However, the woman seems to have had a
duplicate key, and between them they had carried off some seven
thousand pounds' worth of cash and securities."
  "Securities! How could they dispose of those?"
  "He said that he had given the police a list and that he hoped
they would be unsaleable. He had got back from the theatre
about midnight and found the place plundered, the door and
window open, and the fugitives gone. There was no letter or
message, nor has he heard a word since. He at once gave the
alarm to the police."
  Holmes brooded for some minutes.
  "You say he was painting. What was he painting?"
  "Well, he was painting the passage. But he had already
painted the door and woodwork of this room I spoke of."
  "Does it not strike you as a strange occupation in the
circumstances?"
  " 'One must do something to ease an aching heart.' That was
his own explanation. It was eccentric, no doubt, but he is clearly
an eccentric man. He tore up one of his wife's photographs in
my presence -- tore it up furiously in a tempest of passion. 'I
never wish to see her damned face again,' he shrieked."
  "Anything more, Watson?"
  "Yes, one thing which struck me more than anything else. I
had driven to the Blackheath Station and had caught my train
there when, just as it was starting, I saw a man dart into the
carriage next to my own. You know that I have a quick eye for
faces, Holmes. It was undoubtedly the tall, dark man whom I
had addressed in the street. I saw him once more at London
Bridge, and then I lost him in the crowd. But I am convinced that
he was following me."
  "No doubt! No doubt!" said Holmes. "A tall, dark, heavily
moustached man, you say, with gray-tinted sun-glasses?"
  "Holmes, you are a wizard. I did not say so, but he had
gray-tinted sun-glasses."
  "And a Masonic tie-pin?"
  "Holmes!"
  "Quite simple, my dear Watson. But let us get down to what
is practical. I must admit to you that the case, which seemed to
me to be so absurdly simple as to be hardly worth my notice, is
rapidly assuming a very different aspect. It is true that though in
your mission you have missed everything of importance, yet
even those things which have obtruded themselves upon your
notice give rise to serious thought."
  "What have I missed?"
  "Don't be hurt, my dear fellow. You know that I am quite
impersonal. No one else would have done better. Some possibly
not so well. But clearly you have missed some vital points. What
is the opinion of the neighbours about this man Amberley and his
wife? That surely is of importance. What of Dr. Ernest? Was he
the gay Lothario one would expect? With your natural advan-
tages, Watson, every lady is your helper and accomplice. What
about the girl at the post-office, or the wife of the greengrocer? I
can picture you whispering soft nothings with the young lady at
the Blue Anchor, and receiving hard somethings in exchange.
All this you have left undone."
  "It can still be done."
  "It has been done. Thanks to the telephone and the help of the
Yard, I can usually get my essentials without leaving this room.
As a matter of fact, my information confirms the man's story.
He has the local repute of being a miser as well as a harsh and
exacting husband. That he had a large sum of money in that
strong-room of his is certain. So also is it that young Dr. Ernest,
an unmarried man, played chess with Amberley, and probably
played the fool with his wife. All this seems plain sailing, and
one would think that there was no more to be said -- and yet! --
and yet!"
  "Where lies the difficulty?"
  "In my imagination, perhaps. Well, leave it there, Watson.
Let us escape from this weary workaday world by the side door
of music. Carina sings to-night at the Albert Hall, and we still
have time to dress, dine, and enjoy."
  In the morning I was up betimes, but some toast crumbs and
two empty eggshells told me that my companion was earlier still.
I found a scribbled note upon the table.

     DEAR WATSON:
       There are one or two points of contact which I should
     wish to establish with Mr. Josiah Amberley. When I have
     done so we can dismiss the case -- or not. I would only ask
     you to be on hand about three o'clock, as I conceive it
     possible that I may want you.
                              S.H.
  I saw nothing of Holmes all day, but at the hour named he
returned, grave, preoccupied, and aloof. At such times it was
wiser to leave him to himself.
  "Has Amberley been here yet?"
  "No."
  "Ah! I am expecting him."
  He was not disappointed, for presently the old fellow arrived
with a very worried and puzzled expression upon his austere
face.
  "I've had a telegram, Mr. Holmes. I can make nothing of it."
He handed it over, and Holmes read it aloud.

      "Come at once without fail. Can give you information as
    to your recent loss.
                 "ELMAN.
                 "The Vicarage.

  "Dispatched at 2:10 from Little Purlington," said Holmes.
"Little Purlington is in Essex, I believe, not far from Frinton.
Well, of course you will start at once. This is evidently from a
responsible person, the vicar of the place. Where is my Crockford?
Yes, here we have him: 'J. C. Elman, M. A., Living of Moosmoor
cum Little Purlington.' Look up the trains, Watson."
  "There is one at 5:20 from Liverpool Street."
  "Excellent. You had best go with him, Watson. He may
need help or advice. Clearly we have come to a crisis in this
affair."
  But our client seemed by no means eager to start.
  "It's perfectly absurd, Mr. Holmes," he said. "What can this
man possibly know of what has occurred? It is waste of time and
money."
  "He would not have telegraphed to you if he did not know
something. Wire at once that you are coming."
  "I don't think I shall go."
  Holmes assumed his sternest aspect.
  "It would make the worst possible impression both on the
police and upon myself, Mr. Amberley, if when so obvious a
clue arose you should refuse to follow it up. We should feel that
you were not really in earnest in this investigation."
  Our client seemed horrified at the suggestion.
  "Why, of course I shall go if you look at it in that way," said
he. "On the face of it, it seems absurd to suppose that this
parson knows anything, but if you think --"
  "I do think," said Holmes with emphasis, and so we were
launched upon our journey. Holmes took me aside before we left
the room and gave me one word of counsel, which showed that
he considered the matter to be of importance. "Whatever you
do, see that he really does go," said he. "Should he break away
or return, get to the nearest telephone exchange and send the
single word 'Bolted.' I will arrange here that it shall reach me
wherever I am."
  Little Purlington is not an easy place to reach, for it is on a
branch line. My remembrance of the journey is not a pleasant
one, for the weather was hot, the train slow, and my companion
sullen and silent, hardly talking at all save to make an occasional
sardonic remark as to the futility of our proceedings. When we at
last reached the little station it was a two-mile drive before we
came to the Vicarage, where a big, solemn, rather pompous
clergyman received us in his study. Our telegram lay before him.
  "Well, gentlemen," he asked, "what can I do for you?"
  "We came," I explained, "in answer to your wire."
  "My wire! I sent no wire."
  "I mean the wire which you sent to Mr. Josiah Amberley
about his wife and his money."
  "If this is a joke, sir, it is a very questionable one," said the
vicar angrily. "I have never heard of the gentleman you name,
and I have not sent a wire to anyone."
  Our client and I looked at each other in amazement.
  "Perhaps there is some mistake," said I; "are there perhaps
two vicarages? Here is the wire itself, signed Elman and dated
from the Vicarage."
  "There is only one vicarage, sir, and only one vicar, and this
wire is a scandalous forgery, the origin of which shall certainly
be investigated by the police. Meanwhile, I can see no possible
object in prolonging this interview."
  So Mr. Amberley and I found ourselves on the roadside in
what seemed to me to be the most primitive village in England.
We made for the telegraph office, but it was already closed.
There was a telephone, however, at the little Railway Arms, and
by it I got into touch with Holmes, who shared in our amazement
at the result of our journey.
  "Most singular!" said the distant voice. "Most remarkable! I
much fear, my dear Watson, that there is no return train to-night.
I have unwittingly condemned you to the horrors of a country
inn. However, there is always Nature, Watson -- Nature and
Josiah Amberley -- you can be in close commune with both." I
heard his dry chuckle as he turned away.
  It was soon apparent to me that my companion's reputation as
a miser was not undeserved. He had grumbled at the expense of
the journey, had insisted upon travelling third-class, and was
now clamorous in his objections to the hotel bill. Next morning,
when we did at last arrive in London, it was hard to say which of
us was in the worse humour.
  "You had best take Baker Street as we pass," said I. "Mr.
Holmes may have some fresh instructions."
  "If they are not worth more than the last ones they are not of
much use," said Amberley with a malevolent scowl. None the
less, he kept me company. I had already warned Holmes by
telegram of the hour of our arrival, but we found a message
waiting that he was at Lewisham and would expect us there.
That was a surprise, but an even greater one was to find that he
was not alone in the sitting-room of our client. A stern-looking,
impassive man sat beside him, a dark man with gray-tinted
glasses and a large Masonic pin projecting from his tie.
  "This is my friend Mr. Barker," said Holmes. "He has been
interesting himself also in your business, Mr. Josiah Amberley,
though we have been working independently. But we both have
the same question to ask you!"
  Mr. Amberley sat down heavily. He sensed impending dan-
ger. I read it in his straining eyes and his twitching features.
  "What is the question, Mr. Holmes?"
  "Only this: What did you do with the bodies?"
  The man sprang to his feet with a hoarse scream. He clawed
into the air with his bony hands. His mouth was open, and for
the instant he looked like some horrible bird of prey. In a flash
we got a glimpse of the real Josiah Amberley, a misshapen
demon with a soul as distorted as his body. As he fell back into
his chair he clapped his hand to his lips as if to stifle a cough.
Holmes sprang at his throat like a tiger and twisted his face
towards the ground. A white pellet fell from between his gasping
lips.
  "No short cuts, Josiah Amberley. Things must be done de-
cently and in order. What about it, Barker?"
  "I have a cab at the door," said our taciturn companion.
  "It is only a few hundred yards to the station. We will go
together. You can stay here, Watson. I shall be back within half
an hour."
  The old colourman had the strength of a lion in that great
trunk of his, but he was helpless in the hands of the two
experienced man-handlers. Wriggling and twisting he was dragged
to the waiting cab, and I was left to my solitary vigil in the
ill-omened house. In less time than he had named, however,
Holmes was back, in company with a smart young police inspector.
  "I've left Barker to look after the formalities," said Holmes.
"You had not met Barker, Watson. He is my hated rival upon
the Surrey shore. When you said a tall dark man it was not
difficult for me to complete the picture. He has several good
cases to his credit, has he not, Inspector?"
  "He has certainly interfered several times," the inspector
answered with reserve.
  "His methods are irregular, no doubt, like my own. The
irregulars are useful sometimes, you know. You, for example,
with your compulsory warning about whatever he said being
used against him, could never have bluffed this rascal into what
is virtually a confession."
  "Perhaps not. But we get there all the same, Mr. Holmes.
Don't imagine that we had not formed our own views of this
case, and that we would not have laid our hands on our man.
You will excuse us for feeling sore when you jump in with
methods which we cannot use, and so rob us of the credit."
  "There shall be no such robbery, MacKinnon. I assure you
that I efface myself from now onward, and as to Barker, he has
done nothing save what I told him."
  The inspector seemed considerably relieved.
  "That is very handsome of you, Mr. Holmes. Praise or blame
can matter little to you, but it is very different to us when the
newspapers begin to ask questions."
  "Quite so. But they are pretty sure to ask questions anyhow,
so it would be as well to have answers. What will you say, for
example, when the intelligent and enterprising reporter asks you
what the exact points were which aroused your suspicion, and
finally gave you a certain conviction as to the real facts?"
  The inspector looked puzzled.
  "We don't seem to have got any real facts yet, Mr. Holmes.
You say that the prisoner, in the presence of three witnesses,
practically confessed by trying to commit suicide, that he had
murdered his wife and her lover. What other facts have you?"
  "Have you arranged for a search?"
  "There are three constables on their way."
  "Then you will soon get the clearest fact of all. The bodies
cannot be far away. Try the cellars and the garden. It should not
take long to dig up the likely places. This house is older than the
water-pipes. There must be a disused well somewhere. Try your
luck there."
  "But how did you know of it, and how was it done?"
  "I'll show you first how it was done, and then I will give the
explanation which is due to you, and even more to my long-
suffering friend here, who has been invaluable throughout. But,
first, I would give you an insight into this man's mentality. It is
a very unusual one -- so much so that I think his destination is
more likely to be Broadmoor than the scaffold. He has, to a high
degree, the sort of mind which one associates with the mediaeval
Italian nature rather than with the modern Briton. He was a
miserable miser who made his wife so wretched by his niggardly
ways that she was a ready prey for any adventurer. Such a one
came upon the scene in the person of this chess-playing doctor.
Amberley excelled at chess -- one mark, Watson, of a scheming
mind. Like all misers, he was a jealous man, and his jealousy
became a frantic mania. Rightly or wrongly, he suspected an
intrigue. He determined to have his revenge, and he planned it
with diabolical cleverness. Come here!"
  Holmes led us along the passage with as much certainty as if
he had lived in the house and halted at the open door of the
strong-room.
  "Pooh! What an awful smell of paint!" cried the inspector.
  "That was our first clue," said Holmes. "You can thank Dr.
Watson's observation for that, though he failed to draw the
inference. It set my foot upon the trail. Why should this man at
such a time be filling his house with strong odours? Obviously,
to cover some other smell which he wished to conceal -- some
guilty smell which would suggest suspicions. Then came the
idea of a room such as you see here with iron door and shutter -- a
hermetically sealed room. Put those two facts together, and
whither do they lead? I could only determine that by examining
the house myself. I was already certain that the case was serious,
for I had examined the box-office chart at the Haymarket Theatre --
another of Dr. Watson's bull's-eyes -- and ascertained that nei-
ther B thirty nor thirty-two of the upper circle had been occupied
that night. Therefore, Amberley had not been to the theatre, and
his alibi fell to the ground. He made a bad slip when he allowed
my astute friend to notice the number of the seat taken for his
wife. The question now arose how I might be able to examine
the house. I sent an agent to the most impossible village I could
think of, and summoned my man to it at such an hour that he
could not possibly get back. To prevent any miscarriage, Dr.
Watson accompanied him. The good vicar's name I took, of
course, out of my Crockford. Do I make it all clear to you?"
  "It is masterly," said the inspector in an awed voice.
  "There being no fear of interruption I proceeded to burgle the
house. Burglary has always been an alternative profession had I
cared to adopt it, and I have little doubt that I should have come
to the front. Observe what I found. You see the gas-pipe along
the skirting here. Very good. It rises in the angle of the wall, and
there is a tap here in the corner. The pipe runs out into the
strong-room, as you can see, and ends in that plaster rose in the
centre of the ceiling, where it is concealed by the ornamentation.
That end is wide open. At any moment by turning the outside tap
the room could be flooded with gas. With door and shutter
closed and the tap full on I would not give two minutes of
conscious sensation to anyone shut up in that little chamber. By
what devilish device he decoyed them there I do not know, but
once inside the door they were at his mercy."
  The inspector examined the pipe with interest. "One of our
officers mentioned the smell of gas," said he, "but of course the
window and door were open then, and the paint -- or some of
it -- was already about. He had begun the work of painting the
day before, according to his story. But what next, Mr. Holmes?"
  "Well, then came an incident which was rather unexpected to
myself. I was slipping through the pantry window in the early
dawn when I felt a hand inside my collar, and a voice said:
'Now, you rascal, what are you doing in there?' When I could
twist my head round I looked into the tinted spectacles of my
friend and rival, Mr. Barker. It was a curious foregathering and
set us both smiling. It seems that he had been engaged by Dr.
Ray Ernest's family to make some investigations and had come
to the same conclusion as to foul play. He had watched the house
for some days and had spotted Dr. Watson as one of the obvi-
ously suspicious characters who had called there. He could
hardly arrest Watson, but when he saw a man actually climbing
out of the pantry window there came a limit to his restraint. Of
course, I told him how matters stood and we continued the case
together."
  "Why him? Why not us?"
  "Because it was in my mind to put that little test which
answered so admirably. I fear you would not have gone so far."
  The inspector smiled.
  "Well, maybe not. I understand that I have your word, Mr.
Holmes, that you step right out of the case now and that you turn
all your results over to us."
  "Certainly, that is always my custom."
  "Well, in the name of the force I thank you. It seems a clear
case, as you put it, and there can't be much difficulty over the
bodies."
  "I'll show you a grim little bit of evidence," said Holmes,
"and I am sure Amberley himself never observed it. You'll get
results, Inspector, by always putting yourself in the other fel-
low's place, and thinking what you would do yourself. It takes
some imagination, but it pays. Now, we will suppose that you
were shut up in this little room, had not two minutes to live, but
wanted to get even with the fiend who was probably mocking at
you from the other side of the door. What would you do?"
  "Write a message."
  "Exactly. You would like to tell people how you died. No use
writing on paper. That would be seen. If you wrote on the wall
someone might rest upon it. Now, look here! Just above the
skirting is scribbled with a purple indelible pencil: 'We we --'
That's all."
  "What do you make of that?"
  "Well, it's only a foot above the ground. The poor devil was on
the floor dying when he wrote it. He lost his senses before he
could finish."
  "He was writing, 'We were murdered.' "
  "That's how I read it. If you find an indelible pencil on the
body --"
  "We'll look out for it, you may be sure. But those securities?
Clearly there was no robbery at all. And yet he did possess those
bonds. We verified that."
  "You may be sure he has them hidden in a safe place. When
the whole elopement had passed into history, he would suddenly
discover them and announce that the guilty couple had relented
and sent back the plunder or had dropped it on the way."
  "You certainly seem to have met every difficulty," said the
inspector. "Of course, he was bound to call us in, but why he
should have gone to you I can't understand."
  "Pure swank!" Holmes answered. "He felt so clever and so
sure of himself that he imagined no one could touch him. He
could say to any suspicious neighbour, 'Look at the steps I have
taken. I have consulted not only the police but even Sherlock
Holmes.' "
  The inspector laughed.
  "We must forgive you your 'even,' Mr. Holmes," said he
"it's as workmanlike a job as I can remember."
  A couple of days later my friend tossed across to me a copy of
the bi-weekly North Surrey Observer. Under a series of flaming
headlines, which began with "The Haven Horror" and ended
with "Brilliant Police Investigation," there was a packed col-
umn of print which gave the first consecutive account of the
affair. The concluding paragraph is typical of the whole. It ran
thus:

       The remarkable acumen by which Inspector MacKinnon
     deduced from the smell of paint that some other smell, that
     of gas, for example, might be concealed; the bold deduction
     that the strong-room might also be the death-chamber, and
     the subsequent inquiry which led to the discovery of the
     bodies in a disused well, cleverly concealed by a dog-
     kennel, should live in the history of crime as a standing
     example of the intelligence of our professional detectives.

  "Well, well, MacKinnon is a good fellow," said Holmes with
a tolerant smile. "You can file it in our archives, Watson. Some
day the true story may be told."