The Adventure of the Lions Mane. The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger. The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. After a rigorous Jesuit education, at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, he trained to be a doctor at Edinburgh University. Eventually he set up in medical practice in Southsea and, during the quiet periods between patients, he turned his hand to writing.
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Although Sherlock Holmes was Doyle's greatest creation, he believed his historical novels such as Micah Clarke and The White Company were of greater literary quality. He also created the irascible Professor Challenger in The Lost World and the comic French soldier Brigadier Gerard who appeared in a series of short stories. Doyle was knighted in Towards the end of his life he devoted much of his time to his belief in Spiritualism, using his writings as a means of providing funds to support his activities in this field.
He died in It is a terrible thing, Mr. Holmes, to see a dreadful event, an atrocious situation, preparing itself before your eyes, to clearly understand whither it will lead and yet to be utterly unable to avert it. Can a human being be placed in a more trying position? Holmes, I must beg you not to press that question. It is important that I should be able to assure him that his honoured name has been in no way dragged into the matter. His motives are, to the last degree, honourable and chivalrous, but he prefers to remain unknown.
I need not say that your fees will be assured and that you will be given a perfectly free hand. Surely the actual name of your client is immaterial? I fear, Sir James, that I must decline to act. Our visitor was greatly disturbed. His large, sensitive face was darkened with emotion and disappointment.
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Holmes," said he. May I, at least, lay all that I can before you? It is this daughter, this lovely, innocent girl, whom we are endeavouring to save from the clutches of a fiend. The fellow is, as you may have heard, extraordinarily handsome, with a most fascinating manner, a gentle voice, and that air of romance and mystery which means so much to a woman. He is said to have the whole sex at his mercy and to have made ample use of the fact. The company, though select, paid their own passages.
No doubt the promoters hardly realised the Baron's true character until it was too late. The villain attached himself to the lady, and with such effect that he has completely and absolutely won her heart. To say that she loves him hardly expresses it. She dotes upon him, she is obsessed by him. Outside of him there is nothing on earth.
She will not hear one word against him.
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Everything has been done to cure her of her madness, but in vain. To sum up, she proposes to marry him next month.
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As she is of age and has a will of iron, it is hard to know how to prevent her. She absolutely accepts his version and will listen to no other. But surely you have inadvertently let out the name of your client? It is no doubt General de Merville. Holmes, but it would not be true. De Merville is a broken man. The strong soldier has been utterly demoralised by this incident. He has lost the nerve which never failed him on the battlefield and has become a weak, doddering old man, utterly incapable of contending with a brilliant, forceful rascal like this Austrian.
My client, however, is an old friend, one who has known the General intimately for many years and taken a paternal interest in this young girl since she wore short frocks. He cannot see this tragedy consummated without some attempt to stop it.
There is nothing in which Scotland Yard can act. It was his own suggestion that you should be called in, but it was, as I have said, on the express stipulation that he should not be personally involved in the matter. I have no doubt, Mr. Holmes, with your great powers you could easily trace my client back through me, but I must ask you, as a point of honour, to refrain from doing so, and not to break in upon his incognito. How shall I keep in touch with you? But, in case of emergency, there is a private telephone call, 'xx It is a large house.
He has been fortunate in some rather shady speculations and is a rich man, which, naturally, makes him a more dangerous antagonist.
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He is a horse fancier. For a short time he played polo at Hurlingham, but then this Prague affair got noised about and he had to leave. He collects books and pictures. He is a man with a considerable artistic side to his nature. He is, I believe, a recognised authority upon Chinese pottery, and has written a book upon the subject.
My old friend Charlie Peace was a violin virtuoso. Wainwright was no mean artist. I could quote many more. I can say no more. I have some sources of information of my own, and I dare say we may find some means of opening the matter up. When our visitor had left us, Holmes sat so long in deep thought that it seemed to me that he had forgotten my presence. At last, however, he came briskly back to earth.
And yet there is something in the suggestion if all else fails. But I think we must begin from a different angle. I rather fancy that Shinwell Johnson might be a help. I have not had occasion to mention Shinwell Johnson in these memoirs because I have seldom drawn my cases from the latter phases of my friend's career.
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During the first years of the century he became a valuable assistant. Johnson, I grieve to say, made his name first as a very dangerous villain and served two terms at Parkhurst. Finally, he repented and allied himself to Holmes, acting as his agent in the huge criminal underworld of London, and obtaining information which often proved to be of vital importance. Had Johnson been a "nark" of the police he would soon have been exposed, but as he dealt with cases which never came directly into the courts, his activities were never realised by his companions.
It was to him that Sherlock Holmes now proposed to turn. It was not possible for me to follow the immediate steps taken by my friend, for I had some pressing professional business of my own, but I met him by appointment that evening at Simpson's, where, sitting at a small table in the front window, and looking down at the rushing stream of life in the Strand, he told me something of what had passed. Woman's heart and mind are insoluble puzzles to the male. Murder might be condoned or explained, and yet some smaller offence might rankle.
Baron Gruner remarked to me —". Well, Watson, I love to come to close grips with my man.