I look at the three massive manuscript volumes which contain our work for the
year 1894, I confess that it is very difficult for me, out of such a wealth of
material, to select the cases which are most interesting in themselves, and at
the same time most conducive to a display of those peculiar powers for which my
friend was famous. As I turn over the pages, I see my notes upon the repulsive
story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby, the banker. Here also
I find an account of the Addleton tragedy, and the singular contents of the ancient
British barrow. The famous Smith-Mortimer succession case comes also within this
period, and so does the tracking and arrest of Huret, the Boulevard assassin --
an exploit which won for Holmes an autograph letter of thanks from the French
President and the Order of the Legion of Honour. Each of these would furnish a
narrative, but on the whole I am of opinion that none of them unites so many singular
points of interest as the episode of Yoxley Old Place, which includes not only
the lamentable death of young Willoughby Smith, but also those subsequent developments
which threw so curious a light upon the causes of the|
was a wild, tempestuous night, towards the close of November. Holmes and I sat
together in silence all the evening, he engaged with a powerful lens deciphering
the remains of the original inscription upon a palimpsest, I deep in a recent
treatise upon surgery. Outside the wind howled down Baker Street, while the rain
beat fiercely against the windows. It was strange there, in the very depths of
the town, with ten miles of man's handiwork on every side of us, to feel the iron
grip of Nature, and to be conscious that to the huge elemental forces all London
was no more than the molehills that dot the fields. I walked to the window, and
looked out on the deserted street. The occasional lamps gleamed on the expanse
of muddy road and shining pavement. A single cab was splashing its way from the
Oxford Street end.
Watson, it's as well we have not to turn out tonight," said Holmes, laying
aside his lens and rolling up the palimpsest. "I've done enough for one sitting.
It is trying work for the eyes. So far as I can make out, it is nothing more exciting
than an Abbey's accounts dating from the second half of the fifteenth century.
Halloa! halloa! halloa! What's this?"