Morstan entered the room with
a firm step and an outward composure
of manner. She was a blonde young
lady, small, dainty, well gloved,
and dressed in the most perfect
taste. There was, however, a
plainness and simplicity about
her costume which bore with it
a suggestion of limited means.
The dress was a sombre grayish
beige, untrimmed and unbraided,
and she wore a small turban of
the same dull hue, relieved only
by a suspicion of white feather
in the side. Her face had neither
regularity of feature nor beauty
of complexion, but her expression
was sweet and amiable, and her
large blue eyes were singularly
spiritual and sympathetic. In
an experience of women which
extends over many nations and
three separate continents, I
have never looked upon a face
which gave a clearer promise
of a refined and sensitive nature.
I could not but observe that
as she took the seat which Sherlock
Holmes placed for her, her lip
trembled, her hand quivered,
and she showed every sign of
"I have come to you, Mr. Holmes," she
said,"because you once enabled
my employer, Mrs. Cecil Forrester,
to unravel a little domestic
complication. She was much impressed
by your kindness and skill."
"Mrs. Cecil Forrester," he
repeated thoughtfully. "I believe
that I was of some slight service
to her. The case, however, as
I remember it, was a very simple
did not think
so. But at
least you cannot
say the same
of mine. I can hardly imagine
anything more strange, more utterly
inexplicable, than the situation
in which I find myself."
Holmes rubbed his hands, and
his eyes glistened. He leaned
forward in his chair with an
expression of extraordinary concen-
tration upon his clear-cut, hawklike
"State your case," said
he in brisk
I felt that my position was
an embarrassing one.
"You will, I am sure, excuse
me," I said, rising from my chair.
To my surprise, the young lady
held up her gloved hand to detain
"If your friend," she said, "would
be good enough to stop, he might
be of inestimable service to
I relapsed into my chair.
"Briefly," she continued, "the
facts are these. My father was
an officer in an Indian regiment,
who sent me home when I was quite
a child. My mother was dead,
and I had no relative in England.
I was placed, however, in a comfortable
boarding establishment at Edinburgh,
and there I remained until I
was seventeen years of age. In
the year 1878 my father, who
was senior captain of his regiment,
obtained twelve months' leave
and came home. He telegraphed
to me from London that he had
arrived all safe and directed
me to come down at once, giving
the Langham Hotel as his address.
His message, as I remember, was
full of kindness and love. On
reaching London I drove to the
Langham and was informed that
Captain Morstan was staying there,
but that he had gone out the
night before and had not returned.
I waited all day without news
of him. That night, on the advice
of the manager of the hotel,
I communicated with the police,
and next morning we advertised
in all the papers. Our inquiries
led to no result; and from that
day to this no word has ever
been heard of my unfortunate
father. He came home with his
heart full of hope to find some
peace, some comfort, and instead
She put her hand to her throat,
and a choking sob cut short the
"The date?" asked
upon the third
of December, 1878 -- nearly ten
at the hotel.
There was nothing
in it to suggest
a clue -- some clothes, some
books, and a considerable number
of curiosities from the Andaman
Islands. He had been one of the
officers in charge of the convict-guard
he any friends
one that we
know of --
of his own
ment, the Thirty-fourth Bombay
Infantry. The major had retired
some little time before and lived
at Upper Norwood. We com- municated
with him, of course, but he did
not even know that his brother
officer was in England."
"A singular case," remarked
have not yet
you the most singular part. About
six years ago -- to be exact,
upon the fourth of May, 1882
-- an advertisement appeared
in the Times asking for the address
of Miss Mary Morstan, and stating
that it would be to her advan-
tage to come forward. There was
no name or address appended.
I had at that time just entered
the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester
in the capacity of governess.
By her advice I published my
address in the advertisement
column. The same day there arrived
through the post a small cardboard
box addressed to me, which I
found to contain a very large
and lustrous pearl. No word of
writing was enclosed. Since then
every year upon the same date
there has always appeared a similar
box, containing a similar pearl,
without any clue as to the sender.
They have been pro- nounced by
an expert to be of a rare variety
and of considerable value. You
can see for yourself that they
are very hanasome."
She opened a flat box as she
spoke and showed me six of the
finest pearls that I had ever
"Your statement is most interesting," said
Sherlock Holmes. "Has anything
else occurred to you?"
and no later
That is why I have come to you.
This morning I received this
letter, which you will perhaps
read for yourself."
"Thank you," said Holmes. "The
envelope, too, please. Post-mark,
London, S. W. Date, July 7. Hum!
Man's thumb- mark on corner --
probably postman. Best quality
paper. Enve- lopes at sixpence
a packet. Particular man in his
stationery. No address.
"Be at the
third pillar from the left
outside the Lyceum
Theatre to-night at seven o'clock.
If you are distrustful
bring two friends. You are
a wronged woman and shall
have justice. Do not bring
police. If you do, all will be
vain. Your unknown friend.
this is a very pretty little
mystery! What do
you intend to do, Miss Morstan?"
That is exactly
what I want to ask you."
"Then we shall
most certainly go -- you and
I and -- yes. why
Dr. Watson is the very man. Your
correspondent says two friends.
He and I have worked together
"But would he come?" she
asked with something appealing
voice and expression.
"I shall be proud and happy," said
I fervently, "if I can be of
"You are both very kind," she
answered. "I have led a retired
life and have no friends whom
I could appeal to. If I am here
at six it will do, I suppose?"
"You must not be later," said
Holmes. "There. is one other
point, however. Is this handwriting
the same as that upon the pearl-box
"I have them here," she
answered, producing half a
"You are certainly a model
client. You have the correct
intuition. Let us see, now." He
spread out the papers upon the
table and gave little darting
glances from one to the other. "They
are disguised hands, except the
letter," he said presently; "but
there can be no question as to
the authorship. See how the irrepressible
Greek e will break out, and see
the twirl of the final s. They
are undoubtedly by the same person.
I should not like to suggest
false hopes, Miss Morstan, but
is there any resemblance between
this hand and that of your father?"
be more unlike."
to hear you say so. We shall
look out for you,
then, at six. Pray allow me to
keep the papers. I may look into
the matter before then. It is
only half-past three. Au revoir
"Au revoir," said
our visitor; and with a bright,
from one to the other of us,
she replaced her pearl-box in
her bosom and hurried away.
Standing at the window, I watched
her walking briskly down the
street until the gray turban
and white feather were but a
speck in the sombre crowd.
"What a very attractive woman!" I
exclaimed, turning to my companion.
He had lit
his pipe again and was leaning
back with drooping
eyelids. "Is she?" he said languidly; "I
did not observe."
"You really are an automaton
-- a calculating machine," I
cried. "There is something positively
inhuman in you at times."
He smiled gently.
"It is of the first importance," he
cried, "not to allow your judgment
to be biased by personal qualities.
A client is to me a mere unit,
a factor in a problem. The emotional
qualities are antagonistic to
clear reasoning. I assure you
that the most win- ning woman
I ever knew was hanged for poisoning
three little children for their
insurance-money, and the most
repellent man of my acquaintance
is a philanthropist who has spent
nearly a quarter of a million
upon the London poor."
"In this case,
"I never make
exceptions. An exception disproves
Have you ever had occasion to
study character in handwriting?
What do you make of this fellow's
"It is legible and regular," I
answered. "A man of business
habits and some force of character."
Holmes shook his head.
"Look at his long letters," he
said. "They hardly rise above
the common herd. That d might
be an a, and that I an e. Men
of character always differentiate
their long letters, however illegibly
they may write. There is vacillation
in his k's and self-esteem in
his capitals. I am going out
now. I have some few references
to make. Let me recommend this
book -- one of the most remark-
able ever penned. It is Winwood
Reade's Martyrdom of Man. I shall
be back in an hour."
I sat in the window with the
volume in my hand, but my thoughts
were far from the daring speculations
of the writer. My mind ran upon
our late visitor -- her smiles,
the deep rich tones of her voice,
the strange mystery which overhung
her life. If she were seventeen
at the time of her father's disappearance
she must be seven-and-twenty
now -- a sweet age, when youth
has lost its self-consciousness
and become a little sobered by
experience. So I sat and mused
until such dangerous thoughts
came into my head that I hurried
away to my desk and plunged furiously
into the latest treatise upon
pathology. What was I, an army
surgeon with a weak leg and a
weaker banking account, that
I should dare to think of such
things? She was a unit, a factor
-- nothing more. If my future
were black, it was better surely
to face it like a man than to
attempt to brighten it by mere
will-o'-the-wisps of the imagination.