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A Study in Scarlet - Chapter 7 - The Conclusion

1. Part I. Chapter 1 - Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

2. Chapter 2 - The Science of Deduction

3. Chapter 3 - The Lauriston Garden Mystery

4. Chapter 4 - What John Rance Had to Tell

5. Chapter 5 - Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor

6. Chapter 6 - Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do

7. Chapter 7 - Light in the Darkness

8. Part II. Chapter 1 - On the Great Alkali Plain

9. Chapter 2 - The Flower of Utah

10. Chapter 3 - John Ferrier Talks with the Prophet

11. Chapter 4 - A Flight for Life

12. Chapter 5 - The Avenging Angels

13. Chapter 6 - A Continuation of the Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D.

14. Chapter 7 - The Conclusion

WE had all been warned to appear before the magistrates
upon the Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no
occasion for our testimony. A higher Judge had taken the
matter in hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned before
a tribunal where strict justice would be meted out to him.
On the very night after his capture the aneurism burst,
and he was found in the morning stretched upon the floor
of the cell, with a placid smile upon his face, as though
he had been able in his dying moments to look back upon
a useful life, and on work well done.

"Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death,"
Holmes remarked, as we chatted it over next evening.
"Where will their grand advertisement be now?"

"I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture,"
I answered.

"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,"
returned my companion, bitterly. "The question is, what can
you make people believe that you have done. Never mind,"
he continued, more brightly, after a pause. "I would not have
missed the investigation for anything. There has been no
better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there
were several most instructive points about it."

"Simple!" I ejaculated.

"Well, really, it can hardly be described as otherwise," said
Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my surprise. "The proof of its
intrinsic simplicity is, that without any help save a few
very ordinary deductions I was able to lay my hand upon the
criminal within three days."

"That is true," said I.

"I have already explained to you that what is out of the
common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance.
In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able
to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment,
and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much.
In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to
reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected.
There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can
reason analytically."

"I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow you."

"I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make
it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events
to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can
put those events together in their minds, and argue from them
that something will come to pass. There are few people,
however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to
evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were
which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when
I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically."

"I understand," said I.

"Now this was a case in which you were given the result and
had to find everything else for yourself. Now let me
endeavour to show you the different steps in my reasoning.
To begin at the beginning. I approached the house, as you
know, on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all
impressions. I naturally began by examining the roadway, and
there, as I have already explained to you, I saw clearly the
marks of a cab, which, I ascertained by inquiry, must have
been there during the night. I satisfied myself that it was
a cab and not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the
wheels. The ordinary London growler is considerably less
wide than a gentleman's brougham.

"This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly down
the garden path, which happened to be composed of a clay
soil, peculiarly suitable for taking impressions. No doubt
it appeared to you to be a mere trampled line of slush, but
to my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had a meaning.
There is no branch of detective science which is so important
and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps.
Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it, and much
practice has made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy
footmarks of the constables, but I saw also the track of the
two men who had first passed through the garden. It was easy
to tell that they had been before the others, because in
places their marks had been entirely obliterated by the
others coming upon the top of them. In this way my second
link was formed, which told me that the nocturnal visitors
were two in number, one remarkable for his height (as I
calculated from the length of his stride), and the other
fashionably dressed, to judge from the small and elegant
impression left by his boots.

"On entering the house this last inference was confirmed.
My well-booted man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done
the murder, if murder there was. There was no wound upon the
dead man's person, but the agitated expression upon his face
assured me that he had foreseen his fate before it came upon
him. Men who die from heart disease, or any sudden natural
cause, never by any chance exhibit agitation upon their
features. Having sniffed the dead man's lips I detected a
slightly sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that he had
had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued that it had been
forced upon him from the hatred and fear expressed upon his
face. By the method of exclusion, I had arrived at this
result, for no other hypothesis would meet the facts. Do not
imagine that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcible
administration of poison is by no means a new thing in
criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of
Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once to any toxicologist.

"And now came the great question as to the reason why.
Robbery had not been the object of the murder, for nothing
was taken. Was it politics, then, or was it a woman? That
was the question which confronted me. I was inclined from
the first to the latter supposition. Political assassins are
only too glad to do their work and to fly. This murder had,
on the contrary, been done most deliberately, and the
perpetrator had left his tracks all over the room, showing
that he had been there all the time. It must have been a
private wrong, and not a political one, which called for such
a methodical revenge. When the inscription was discovered
upon the wall I was more inclined than ever to my opinion.
The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring was
found, however, it settled the question. Clearly the
murderer had used it to remind his victim of some dead or
absent woman. It was at this point that I asked Gregson
whether he had enquired in his telegram to Cleveland as
to any particular point in Mr. Drebber's former career.
He answered, you remember, in the negative.

"I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room,
which confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderer's height,
and furnished me with the additional details as to the
Trichinopoly cigar and the length of his nails. I had
already come to the conclusion, since there were no signs of
a struggle, that the blood which covered the floor had burst
from the murderer's nose in his excitement. I could perceive
that the track of blood coincided with the track of his feet.
It is seldom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded,
breaks out in this way through emotion, so I hazarded the opinion
that the criminal was probably a robust and ruddy-faced man.
Events proved that I had judged correctly.

"Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had
neglected. I telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland,
limiting my enquiry to the circumstances connected with the
marriage of Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive.
It told me that Drebber had already applied for the protection
of the law against an old rival in love, named Jefferson Hope,
and that this same Hope was at present in Europe.
I knew now that I held the clue to the mystery in my hand,
and all that remained was to secure the murderer.

"I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had
walked into the house with Drebber, was none other than the
man who had driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me
that the horse had wandered on in a way which would have been
impossible had there been anyone in charge of it. Where,
then, could the driver be, unless he were inside the house?
Again, it is absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry
out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it were, of a
third person, who was sure to betray him. Lastly, supposing
one man wished to dog another through London, what better
means could he adopt than to turn cabdriver. All these
considerations led me to the irresistible conclusion that
Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys of the

"If he had been one there was no reason to believe that he
had ceased to be. On the contrary, from his point of view,
any sudden chance would be likely to draw attention to
himself. He would, probably, for a time at least, continue
to perform his duties. There was no reason to suppose that
he was going under an assumed name. Why should he change his
name in a country where no one knew his original one? I
therefore organized my Street Arab detective corps, and sent
them systematically to every cab proprietor in London until
they ferreted out the man that I wanted. How well they
succeeded, and how quickly I took advantage of it, are still
fresh in your recollection. The murder of Stangerson was an
incident which was entirely unexpected, but which could
hardly in any case have been prevented. Through it, as you
know, I came into possession of the pills, the existence of
which I had already surmised. You see the whole thing is a
chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw."

"It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should be publicly
recognized. You should publish an account of the case.
If you won't, I will for you."

"You may do what you like, Doctor," he answered. "See here!"
he continued, handing a paper over to me, "look at this!"

It was the _Echo_ for the day, and the paragraph to which he
pointed was devoted to the case in question.

"The public," it said, "have lost a sensational treat through
the sudden death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the
murder of Mr. Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson.
The details of the case will probably be never known now,
though we are informed upon good authority that the crime was
the result of an old standing and romantic feud, in which
love and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that both the
victims belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day
Saints, and Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt
Lake City. If the case has had no other effect, it, at
least, brings out in the most striking manner the efficiency
of our detective police force, and will serve as a lesson to
all foreigners that they will do wisely to settle their feuds
at home, and not to carry them on to British soil. It is an
open secret that the credit of this smart capture belongs
entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard officials, Messrs.
Lestrade and Gregson. The man was apprehended, it appears,
in the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has
himself, as an amateur, shown some talent in the detective
line, and who, with such instructors, may hope in time to
attain to some degree of their skill. It is expected that
a testimonial of some sort will be presented to the two
officers as a fitting recognition of their services."

"Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried Sherlock Holmes
with a laugh. "That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet:
to get them a testimonial!"

"Never mind," I answered, "I have all the facts in my journal,
and the public shall know them. In the meantime you must make
yourself contented by the consciousness of success,
like the Roman miser --

"`Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplor in arca.'"

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