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    The Greek Interpreter

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    Chapter 9
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    During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr.
    Sherlock Holmes I had never heard him refer to his
    relations, and hardly ever to his own early life.
    This reticence upon his part had increased the
    somewhat inhuman effect which he produced upon me,
    until sometimes I found myself regarding him as an
    isolated phenomenon, a brain without a heart, as
    deficient in human sympathy as he was pre-eminent in
    intelligence. His aversion to women and his
    disinclination to form new friendships were both
    typical of his unemotional character, but not more so
    than his complete suppression of every reference to
    his own people. I had come to believe that he was an
    orphan with no relatives living, but one day, to my
    very great surprise, he began to talk to me about his
    brother.

    It was after tea on a summer evening, and the
    conversation, which had roamed in a desultory,
    spasmodic fashion from golf clubs to the causes of the
    change in the obliquity of the ecliptic, came round at
    last to the question of atavism and hereditary
    aptitudes. The point under discussion was, how far
    any singular gift in an individual was due to his
    ancestry and how far to his own early training.

    "In your own case," said I, "from all that you have
    told me, it seems obvious that your faculty of
    observation and your peculiar facility for deduction
    are due to your own systematic training."

    "To some extent," he answered, thoughtfully. "My
    ancestors were country squires, who appear to have led
    much the same life as is natural to their class. But,
    none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and
    may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister
    of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is
    liable to take the strangest forms."

    "But how do you know that it is hereditary?"

    "Because my brother Mycroft possesses it in a larger
    degree than I do."

    This was news to me indeed. If there were another man
    with such singular powers in England, how was it that
    neither police nor public had heard of him? I put the
    question, with a hint that it was my companion's
    modesty which made him acknowledge his brother as his
    superior. Holmes laughed at my suggestion.

    "My dear Watson," said he, "I cannot agree with those
    who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician
    all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to
    underestimate one's self is as much a departure from
    truth as to exaggerate one's own powers. When I say,
    therefore, that Mycroft has better powers of
    observation than I, you may take it that I am speaking
    the exact and literal truth."

    "Is he your junior?"

    "Seven years my senior."

    "How comes it that he is unknown?"

    "Oh, he is very well known in his own circle."

    "Where, then?"

    "Well, in the Diogenes Club, for example."

    I had never heard of the institution, and my face must
    have proclaimed as much, for Sherlock Holmes pulled
    out his watch.

    "The Diogenes Club is the queerest club in London, and
    Mycroft one of the queerest men. He's always there
    from quarter to five to twenty to eight. It's six
    now, so if you care for a stroll this beautiful
    evening I shall be very happy to introduce you to two
    curiosities."

    "Five minutes later we were in the street, walking
    towards Regent's Circus.

    "You wonder," said my companion, "why it is that
    Mycroft does not use his powers for detective work.
    He is incapable of it."

    "But I thought you said--"

    "I said that he was my superior in observation and
    deduction. If the art of the detective began and
    ended in reasoning from an arm-chair, my brother would
    be the greatest criminal agent that ever lived. But
    he has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go
    out of his way to verify his own solution, and would
    rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to
    prove himself right. Again and again I have taken a
    problem to him, and have received an explanation which
    has afterwards proved to be the correct one. And yet
    he was absolutely incapable of working out the
    practical points which must be gone into before a case
    could be laid before a judge or jury."

    "It is not his profession, then?"

    "By no means. What is to me a means of livelihood is
    to him the merest hobby of a dilettante. He has an
    extraordinary faculty for figures, and audits the
    books in some of the government departments. Mycroft
    lodges in Pall Mall, and he walks round the corner
    into Whitehall every morning and back every evening.
    From year's end to year's end he takes no other
    exercise, and is seen nowhere else, except only in the
    Diogenes Club, which is just opposite his rooms."

    "I cannot recall the name."

    "Very likely not. There are many men in London, you
    know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy,
    have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet
    they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the
    latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of
    these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now
    contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in
    town. No member is permitted to take the least notice
    of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no
    talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and
    three offences, if brought to the notice of the
    committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My
    brother was one of the founders, and I have myself
    found it a very soothing atmosphere."

    We had reached Pall Mall as we talked, and were
    walking down it from the St. James's end. Sherlock
    Holmes stopped at a door some little distance from the
    Carlton, and, cautioning me not to speak, he led the
    way into the hall. Through the glass paneling I
    caught a glimpse of a large and luxurious room, in
    which a considerable number of men were sitting about
    and reading papers, each in his own little nook.
    Holmes showed me into a small chamber which looked out
    into Pall Mall, and then, leaving me for a minute, he
    came back with a companion whom I knew could only be
    his brother.

    Mycroft Holmes was a much larger and stouter man than
    Sherlock. His body was absolutely corpulent, but is
    face, though massive, had preserved something of the
    sharpness of expression which was so remarkable in
    that of his brother. His eyes, which were of a
    peculiarly light, watery gray, seemed to always retain
    that far-away, introspective look which I had only
    observed in Sherlock's when he was exerting his full
    powers.

    "I am glad to meet you, sir," said he, putting out a
    broad, fat hand like the flipper of a seal. "I hear
    of Sherlock everywhere since you became his
    chronicler. By the way, Sherlock, I expected to see
    you round last week, to consult me over that Manor
    House case. I thought you might be a little out of
    your depth."

    "No, I solved it," said my friend, smiling.

    "It was Adams, of course."

    "Yes, it was Adams."

    "I was sure of it from the first." The two sat down
    together in the bow-window of the club. "To any one
    who wishes to study mankind this is the spot," said
    Mycroft. "Look at the magnificent types! Look at
    these two men who are coming towards us, for example."

    "The billiard-marker and the other?"

    "Precisely. What do you make of the other?"

    The two men had stopped opposite the window. Some
    chalk marks over the waistcoat pocket were the only
    signs of billiards which I could see in one of them.
    The other was a very small, dark fellow, with his hat
    pushed back and several packages under his arm.

    "An old soldier, I perceive," said Sherlock.

    "And very recently discharged," remarked the brother.

    "Served in India, I see."

    "And a non-commissioned officer."

    "Royal Artillery, I fancy," said Sherlock.

    "And a widower."

    "But with a child."

    "Children, my dear boy, children."

    "Come," said I, laughing, "this is a little too much."

    "Surely," answered Holmes, "it is not hard to say that
    a man with that bearing, expression of authority, and
    sunbaked skin, is a soldier, is more than a private,
    and is not long from India."

    "That he has not left the service long is shown by his
    still wearing is ammunition boots, as they are
    called," observed Mycroft.

    "He had not the cavalry stride, yet he wore his hat on
    one side, as is shown by the lighter skin of that side
    of his brow. His weight is against his being a
    sapper. He is in the artillery."

    "Then, of course, his complete mourning shows that he
    has lost some one very dear. The fact that he is
    doing his own shopping looks as though it were his
    wife. He has been buying things for children, you
    perceive. There is a rattle, which shows that one of
    them is very young. The wife probably died in
    childbed. The fact that he has a picture-book under
    his arm shows that there is another child to be
    thought of."

    I began to understand what my friend meant when he
    said that his brother possessed even keener faculties
    that he did himself. He glanced across at me and
    smiled. Mycroft took snuff from a tortoise-shell box,
    and brushed away the wandering grains from his coat
    front with a large, red silk handkerchief.

    "By the way, Sherlock," said he, "I have had something
    quite after your own heart--a most singular
    problem--submitted to my judgment. I really had not
    the energy to follow it up save in a very incomplete
    fashion, but it gave me a basis for some pleasing
    speculation. If you would care to hear the facts--"

    "My dear Mycroft, I should be delighted."

    The brother scribbled a note upon a leaf of his
    pocket-book, and, ringing the bell, he handed it to
    the waiter.

    "I have asked Mr. Melas to step across," said he. "He
    lodges on the floor above me, and I have some slight
    acquaintance with him, which led him to come to me in
    his perplexity. Mr. Melas is a Greek by extraction,
    as I understand, and he is a remarkable linguist. He
    earns his living partly as interpreter in the law
    courts and partly by acting as guide to any wealthy
    Orientals who may visit the Northumberland Avenue
    hotels. I think I will leave him to tell his very
    remarkable experience in his own fashion."

    A few minutes later we were joined by a short, stout
    man whose olive face and coal-black hair proclaimed
    his Southern origin, though his speech was that of an
    educated Englishman. He shook hands eagerly with
    Sherlock Holmes, and his dark eyes sparkled with
    pleasure when he understood that the specialist was
    anxious to hear his story.

    "I do not believe that the police credit me--on my
    word, I do not," said he in a wailing voice. "Just
    because they have never heard of it before, they think
    that such a thing cannot be. But I know that I shall
    never be easy in my mind until I know what has become
    of my poor man with the sticking-plaster upon his
    face."

    "I am all attention," said Sherlock Holmes.

    "This is Wednesday evening," said Mr. Melas. "Well
    then, it was Monday night--only two days ago, you
    understand--that all this happened. I am an
    interpreter, as perhaps my neighbor there has told
    you. I interpret all languages--or nearly all--but as
    I am a Greek by birth and with a Grecian name, it is
    with that particular tongue that I am principally
    associated. For many years I have been the chief
    Greek interpreter in London, and my name is very well
    known in the hotels.

    It happens not unfrequently that I am sent for at
    strange hours by foreigners who get into difficulties,
    or by traveler who arrive late and wish my services.
    I was not surprised, therefore, on Monday night when a
    Mr. Latimer, a very fashionably dressed young man,
    came up to my rooms and asked me to accompany him in a
    cab which was waiting at the door. A Greek friend had
    come to see him upon business, he said, and as he
    could speak nothing but his own tongue, the services
    of an interpreter were indispensable. He gave me to
    understand that his house was some little distance
    off, in Kensington, and he seemed to be in a great
    hurry, bustling me rapidly into the cab when we had
    descended to the street.

    "I say into the cab, but I soon became doubtful as to
    whether it was not a carriage in which I found myself.
    It was certainly more roomy than the ordinary
    four-wheeled disgrace to London, and the fittings,
    though frayed, were of rich quality. Mr. Latimer
    seated himself opposite to me and we started off
    through Charing Cross and up the Shaftesbury Avenue.
    We had come out upon Oxford Street and I had ventured
    some remark as to this being a roundabout way to
    Kensington, when my words were arrested by the
    extraordinary conduct of my companion.

    "He began by drawing a most formidable-looking
    bludgeon loaded with lead from his pocket, and
    switching it backward and forward several times, as if
    to test its weight and strength. Then he placed it
    without a word upon the seat beside him. Having done
    this, he drew up the windows on each side, and I found
    to my astonishment that they were covered with paper
    so as to prevent my seeing through them.

    "'I am sorry to cut off your view, Mr. Melas,' said
    he. 'The fact is that I have no intention that you
    should see what the place is to which we are driving.
    It might possibly be inconvenient to me if you could
    find your way there again.'

    "As you can imagine, I was utterly taken aback by such
    an address. My companion was a powerful,
    broad-shouldered young fellow, and, apart from the
    weapon, I should not have had the slightest chance in
    a struggle with him.

    "'This is very extraordinary conduct, Mr. Latimer,' I
    stammered. 'You must be aware that what you are doing
    is quite illegal.'

    "'It is somewhat of a liberty, no doubt,' said he,
    'but we'll make it up to you. I must warn you,
    however, Mr. Melas, that if at any time to-night you
    attempt to raise an alarm or do anything which is
    against my interests, you will find it a very serious
    thing. I beg you to remember that no one knows where
    you are, and that, whether you are in this carriage or
    in my house, you are equally in my power.'

    "His words were quiet, but he had a rasping way of
    saying them which was very menacing. I sat in silence
    wondering what on earth could be his reason for
    kidnapping me in this extraordinary fashion. Whatever
    it might be, it was perfectly clear that there was no
    possible use in my resisting, and that I could only
    wait to see what might befall.

    "For nearly two hours we drove without my having the
    least clue as to where we were going. Sometimes the
    rattle of the stones told of a paved causeway, and at
    others our smooth, silent course suggested asphalt;
    but, save by this variation in sound, there was
    nothing at all which could in the remotest way help me
    to form a guess as to where we were. The paper over
    each window was impenetrable to light, and a blue
    curtain was drawn across the glass work in front. It
    was a quarter-past seven when we left Pall Mall, and
    my watch showed me that it was ten minutes to nine
    when we at last came to a standstill. My companion
    let down the window, and I caught a glimpse of a low,
    arched doorway with a lamp burning above it. As I was
    hurried from the carriage it swung open, and I found
    myself inside the house, with a vague impression of a
    lawn and trees on each side of me as I entered.
    Whether these were private grounds ,however, or
    bona-fide country was more than I could possibly
    venture to say.

    "There was a colored gas-lamp inside which was turned
    so low that I could see little save that the hall was
    of some size and hung with pictures. In the dim light
    I could make out that the person who had opened the
    door was a small, mean-looking, middle-aged man with
    rounded shoulders. As he turned towards us the glint
    of the light showed me that he was wearing glasses.

    "'Is this Mr. Melas, Harold?' said he.

    "'Yes.'

    "'Well done, well done! No ill-will, Mr. Melas, I
    hope, but we could not get on without you. If you
    deal fair with us you'll not regret it, but if you try
    any tricks, God help you!' He spoke in a nervous,
    jerky fashion, and with little giggling laughs in
    between, but somehow he impressed me with fear more
    than the other.

    "'What do you want with me?' I asked.

    "'Only to ask a few questions of a Greek gentleman who
    is visiting us, and to let us have the answers. But
    say no more than you are told to say, or--' here came
    the nervous giggle again--'you had better never have
    been born.'

    "As he spoke he opened a door and showed the way into
    a room which appeared to be very richly furnished, but
    again the only light was afforded by a single lamp
    half-turned down. The chamber was certainly large,
    and the way in which my feet sank into the carpet as I
    stepped across it told me of its richness. I caught
    glimpses of velvet chairs, a high white marble
    mantel-piece, and what seemed to be a suit of Japanese
    armor at one side of it. There was a chair just under
    the lamp, and the elderly man motioned that I should
    sit in it. The younger had left us, but he suddenly
    returned through another door, leading with him a
    gentleman clad in some sort of loose dressing-gown who
    moved slowly towards us. As he came into the circle
    of dim light which enables me to see him more clearly
    I was thrilled with horror at his appearance. He was
    deadly pale and terribly emaciated, with the
    protruding, brilliant eyes of a man whose spirit was
    greater than his strength. But what shocked me more
    than any signs of physical weakness was that his face
    was grotesquely criss-crossed with sticking-plaster,
    and that one large pad of it was fastened over his
    mouth.

    "'Have you the slate, Harold?' cried the older man, as
    this strange being fell rather than sat down into a
    chair. 'Are his hands loose? Now, then, give him the
    pencil. You are to ask the questions, Mr. Melas, and
    he will write the answers. Ask him first of all
    whether he is prepared to sign the papers?'

    "The man's eyes flashed fire.

    "'Never!' he wrote in Greek upon the slate.

    "'On no condition?' I asked, at the bidding of our
    tyrant.

    "'Only if I see her married in my presence by a Greek
    priest whom I know.'

    "The man giggled in his venomous way.

    "'You know what awaits you, then?'

    "'I care nothing for myself.'

    "These are samples of the questions and answers which
    made up our strange half-spoken, half-written
    conversation. Again and again I had to ask him
    whether he would give in and sign the documents.
    Again and again I had the same indignant reply. But
    soon a happy thought came to me. I took to adding on
    little sentences of my own to each question, innocent
    ones at first, to test whether either of our
    companions knew anything of the matter, and then, as I
    found that they showed no signs I played a more
    dangerous game. Our conversation ran something like
    this:

    "'You can do no good by this obstinacy. Who are you?'

    "'I care not. I am a stranger in London.'

    "'Your fate will be upon your own head. How long have
    you been here?'

    "'Let it be so. Three weeks.'

    "'The property can never be yours. What ails you?'

    "'It shall not go to villains. They are starving me.'

    "'You shall go free if you sign. What house is this?'

    "'I will never sign. I do not know.'

    "'You are not doing her any service. What is your
    name?'

    "'Let me hear her say so. Kratides.'

    "'You shall see her if you sign. Where are you from?'

    "'Then I shall never see her. Athens.'

    "Another five minutes, Mr. Holmes, and I should have
    wormed out the whole story under their very noses. My
    very next question might have cleared the matter up,
    but at that instant the door opened and a woman
    stepped into the room. I could not see her clearly
    enough to know more than that she was tall and
    graceful, with black hair, and clad in some sort of
    loose white gown.

    "'Harold,' said she, speaking English with a broken
    accent. 'I could not stay away longer. It is so
    lonely up there with only--Oh, my God, it is Paul!'

    "These last words were in Greek, and at the same
    instant the man with a convulsive effort tore the
    plaster from his lips, and screaming out 'Sophy!
    Sophy!' rushed into the woman's arms. Their embrace
    was but for an instant, however, for the younger man
    seized the woman and pushed her out of the room, while
    the elder easily overpowered his emaciated victim, and
    dragged him away through the other door. For a moment
    I was left alone in the room, and I sprang to my feet
    with some vague idea that I might in some way get a
    clue to what this house was in which I found myself.
    Fortunately, however, I took no steps, for looking up
    I saw that the older man was standing in the door-way
    with his eyes fixed upon me.

    "'That will do, Mr. Melas,' said he. 'You perceive
    that we have taken you into our confidence over some
    very private business. We should not have troubled
    you, only that our friend who speaks Greek and who
    began these negotiations has been forced to return to
    the East. It was quite necessary for us to find some
    one to take his place, and we were fortunate in
    hearing of your powers.'

    "I bowed.

    "'There are five sovereigns here,' said he, walking up
    to me, 'which will, I hope, be a sufficient fee. But
    remember,' he added, tapping me lightly on the chest
    and giggling, 'if you speak to a human soul about
    this--one human soul, mind--well, may God have mercy
    upon your soul!"

    "I cannot tell you the loathing and horror with which
    this insignificant-looking man inspired me. I could
    see him better now as the lamp-light shone upon him.
    His features were peaky and sallow, and his little
    pointed beard was thready and ill-nourished. He
    pushed his face forward as he spoke and his lips and
    eyelids were continually twitching like a man with St.
    Vitus's dance. I could not help thinking that his
    strange, catchy little laugh was also a symptom of
    some nervous malady. The terror of his face lay in
    his eyes, however, steel gray, and glistening coldly
    with a malignant, inexorable cruelty in their depths.

    "'We shall know if you speak of this,' said he. 'We
    have our own means of information. Now you will find
    the carriage waiting, and my friend will see you on
    your way.'

    "I was hurried through the hall and into the vehicle,
    again obtaining that momentary glimpse of trees and a
    garden. Mr. Latimer followed closely at my heels, and
    took his place opposite to me without a word. In
    silence we again drove for an interminable distance
    with the windows raised, until at last, just after
    midnight, the carriage pulled up.

    "'You will get down here, Mr. Melas,' said my
    companion. 'I am sorry to leave you so far from your
    house, but there is no alternative. Any attempt upon
    your part to follow the carriage can only end in
    injury to yourself.'

    "He opened the door as he spoke, and I had hardly time
    to spring out when the coachman lashed the horse and
    the carriage rattled away. I looked around me in
    astonishment. I was on some sort of a heathy common
    mottled over with dark clumps of furze-bushes. Far
    away stretched a line of houses, with a light here and
    there in the upper windows. On the other side I saw
    the red signal-lamps of a railway.

    "The carriage which had brought me was already out of
    sight. I stood gazing round and wondering where on
    earth I might be, when I saw some one coming towards
    me in the darkness. As he came up to me I made out
    that he was a railway porter.

    "'Can you tell me what place this is?' I asked.

    "'Wandsworth Common,' said he.

    "'Can I get a train into town?'

    "'If you walk on a mile or so to Clapham Junction,'
    said he, 'you'll just be in time for the last to
    Victoria.'

    "So that was the end of my adventure, Mr. Holmes. I
    do not know where I was, nor whom I spoke with, nor
    anything save what I have told you. But I know that
    there is foul play going on, and I want to help that
    unhappy man if I can. I told the whole story to Mr.
    Mycroft Holmes next morning, and subsequently to the
    police."

    We all sat in silence for some little time after
    listening to this extraordinary narrative. Then
    Sherlock looked across at his brother.

    "Any steps?" he asked.

    Mycroft picked up the Daily News, which was lying on
    the side-table.

    "'Anybody supplying any information to the whereabouts
    of a Greek gentleman named Paul Kratides, from Athens,
    who is unable to speak English, will be rewarded. A
    similar reward paid to any one giving information
    about a Greek lady whose first name is Sophy. X
    2473.' That was in all the dailies. No answer."

    "How about the Greek Legation?"

    "I have inquired. They know nothing."

    "A wire to the head of the Athens police, then?"

    "Sherlock has all the energy of the family," said
    Mycroft, turning to me. "Well, you take the case up
    by all means, and let me know if you do any good."

    "Certainly," answered my friend, rising from his
    chair. "I'll let you know, and Mr. Melas also. In
    the meantime, Mr. Melas, I should certainly be on my
    guard, if I were you, for of course they must know
    through these advertisements that you have betrayed
    them."

    As we walked home together, Holmes stopped at a
    telegraph office and sent off several wires.

    "You see, Watson," he remarked, "our evening has been
    by no means wasted. Some of my most interesting cases
    have come to me in this way through Mycroft. The
    problem which we have just listened to, although it
    can admit of but one explanation, has still some
    distinguishing features."

    "You have hopes of solving it?"

    "Well, knowing as much as we do, it will be singular
    indeed if we fail to discover the rest. You must
    yourself have formed some theory which will explain
    the facts to which we have listened."

    "In a vague way, yes."

    "What was your idea, then?"

    "IT seemed to me to be obvious that this Greek girl
    had been carried off by the young Englishman named
    Harold Latimer."

    "Carried off from where?"

    "Athens, perhaps."

    Sherlock Holmes shook his head. "This young man could
    not talk a word of Greek. The lady could talk English
    fairly well. Inference--that she had been in England
    some little time, but he had not been in Greece."

    "Well, then, we will presume that she had come on a
    visit to England, and that this Harold had persuaded
    her to fly with him."

    "That is more probable."

    "Then the brother--for that, I fancy, must be the
    relationship--comes over from Greece to interfere. He
    imprudently puts himself into the power of the young
    man and his older associate. They seize him and use
    violence towards him in order to make him sign some
    papers to make over the girl's fortune--of which he
    may be trustee--to them. This he refuses to do. In
    order to negotiate with him they have to get an
    interpreter , and they pitch upon this Mr. Melas,
    having used some other one before. The girl is not
    told of the arrival of her brother, and finds it out
    by the merest accident."

    "Excellent, Watson!" cried Holmes. "I really fancy
    that you are not far from the truth. You see that we
    hold all the cards, and we have only to fear some
    sudden act of violence on their part. If they give us
    time we must have them."

    "But how can we find where this house lies?"

    "Well, if our conjecture is correct and the girl's
    name is or was Sophy Kratides, we should have no
    difficulty in tracing her. That must be our main
    hope, for the brother is, of course, a complete
    stranger. It is clear that some time has elapsed
    since this Harold established these relations with the
    girl--some weeks, at any rate--since the brother in
    Greece has had time to hear of it and come across. If
    they have been living in the same place during this
    time, it is probable that we shall have some answer to
    Mycroft's advertisement."

    We had reached our house in Baker Street while we had
    been talking. Holmes ascended the stair first, and as
    he opened the door of our room he gave a start of
    surprise. Looking over his shoulder, I was equally
    astonished. His brother Mycroft was sitting smoking
    in the arm-chair.

    "Come in, Sherlock! Come in, sir," said he blandly,
    smiling at our surprised faces. "You don't expect
    such energy from me, do you, Sherlock? But somehow
    this case attracts me."

    "How did you get here?"

    "I passed you in a hansom."

    "There has been some new development?"

    "I had an answer to my advertisement."

    "Ah!"

    "Yes, it came within a few minutes of your leaving."

    "And to what effect?"

    Mycroft Holmes took out a sheet of paper.

    "Here it is," said he, "written with a J pen on royal
    cream paper by a middle-aged man with a weak
    constitution. 'Sir,' he says, 'in answer to your
    advertisement of to-day's date, I beg to inform you
    that know the young lady in question very well. If
    you should care to call upon me I could give you some
    particulars as to her painful history. She is living
    at present at The Myrtles, Beckenham. Yours
    faithfully, J. Davenport.'

    "He writes from Lower Brixton," said Mycroft Holmes.
    "Do you not think that we might drive to him now,
    Sherlock, and learn these particulars?"

    "My dear Mycroft, the brother's life is more valuable
    than the sister's story. I think we should call at
    Scotland Yard for Inspector Gregson, and go straight
    out to Beckenham. We know that a man is being done to
    death, and every hour may be vital."

    "Better pick up Mr. Melas on our way," I suggested.
    "We may need an interpreter."

    "Excellent," said Sherlock Holmes. "Send the boy for
    a four-wheeler, and we shall be off at once." He
    opened the table-drawer as he spoke, and I noticed
    that he slipped his revolver into his pocket. "Yes,"
    said he, in answer to my glance; "I should say from
    what we have heard, that we are dealing with a
    particularly dangerous gang."

    It was almost dark before we found ourselves in Pall
    Mall, at the rooms of Mr. Melas. A gentleman had just
    called for him, and he was gone.

    "Can you tell me where?" asked Mycroft Holmes.

    "I don't know, sir," answered the woman who had opened
    the door; "I only know that he drove away with the
    gentleman in a carriage."

    "Did the gentleman give a name?"

    "No, sir."

    "He wasn't a tall, handsome, dark young man?"

    "Oh, nor, sir. He was a little gentleman, with
    glasses, thin in the face, but very pleasant in his
    ways, for he was laughing al the time that he was
    talking."

    "Come along!" cried Sherlock Holmes, abruptly. "This
    grows serious," he observed, as we drove to Scotland
    Yard. "These men have got hold of Melas again. He is
    a man of no physical courage, as they are well aware
    from their experience the other night. This villain
    was able to terrorize him the instant that he got into
    his presence. No doubt they want his professional
    services, but, having used him, they may be inclined
    to punish him for what they will regard as his
    treachery."

    Our hope was that, by taking train, we might get to
    Beckenham as soon or sooner than the carriage. On
    reaching Scotland Yard, however, it was more than an
    hour before we could get Inspector Gregson and comply
    with the legal formalities which would enable us to
    enter the house. It was a quarter to ten before we
    reached London Bridge, and half past before the four
    of us alighted on the Beckenham platform. A drive of
    half a mile brought us to The Myrtles--a large, dark
    house standing back from the road in its own grounds.
    Here we dismissed our cab, and made our way up the
    drive together.

    "The windows are all dark," remarked the inspector.
    "The house seems deserted."

    "Our birds are flown and the nest empty," said Holmes.

    "Why do you say so?"

    "A carriage heavily loaded with luggage has passed out
    during the last hour."

    The inspector laughed. "I saw the wheel-tracks in the
    light of the gate-lamp, but where does the luggage
    come in?"

    "You may have observed the same wheel-tracks going the
    other way. But the outward-bound ones were very much
    deeper--so much so that we can say for a certainty
    that there was a very considerable weight on the
    carriage."

    "You get a trifle beyond me there," said the
    inspector, shrugging his shoulder. "It will not be an
    easy door to force, but we will try if we cannot make
    some one hear us."

    He hammered loudly at the knocker and pulled at the
    bell, but without any success. Holmes had slipped
    away, but he came back in a few minutes.

    "I have a window open," said he.

    "It is a mercy that you are on the side of the force,
    and not against it, Mr. Holmes," remarked the
    inspector, as he noted the clever way in which my
    friend had forced back the catch. "Well, I think that
    under the circumstances we may enter without an
    invitation."

    One after the other we made our way into a large
    apartment, which was evidently that in which Mr. Melas
    had found himself. The inspector had lit his lantern,
    and by its light we could see the two doors, the
    curtain, the lamp, and the suit of Japanese mail as he
    had described them. On the table lay two glasses, and
    empty brandy-bottle, and the remains of a meal.

    "What is that?" asked Holmes, suddenly.

    We all stood still and listened. A low moaning sound
    was coming from somewhere over our heads. Holmes
    rushed to the door and out into the hall. The dismal
    noise came from upstairs. He dashed up, the inspector
    and I at his heels, while his brother Mycroft followed
    as quickly as his great bulk would permit.

    Three doors faced up upon the second floor, and it was
    from the central of these that the sinister sounds
    were issuing, sinking sometimes into a dull mumble and
    rising again into a shrill whine. It was locked, but
    the key had been left on the outside. Holmes flung
    open the door and rushed in, but he was out again in
    an instant, with his hand to his throat."

    "It's charcoal," he cried. "Give it time. It will
    clear."

    Peering in, we could see that the only light in the
    room came from a dull blue flame which flickered from
    a small brass tripod in the centre. It threw a livid,
    unnatural circle upon the floor, while in the shadows
    beyond we saw the vague loom of two figures which
    crouched against the wall. From the open door there
    reeked a horrible poisonous exhalation which set us
    gasping and coughing. Holmes rushed to the top of the
    stairs to draw in the fresh air, and then, dashing
    into the room, he threw up the window and hurled the
    brazen tripod out into the garden.

    "We can enter in a minute," he gasped, darting out
    again. "Where is a candle? I doubt if we could
    strike a match in that atmosphere. Hold the light at
    the door and we shall get them out, Mycroft, now!"

    With a rush we got to the poisoned men and dragged
    them out into the well-lit hall. Both of them were
    blue-lipped and insensible, with swollen, congested
    faces and protruding eyes. Indeed, so distorted were
    their features that, save for his black beard and
    stout figure, we might have failed to recognize in one
    of them the Greek interpreter who had parted from us
    only a few hours before at the Diogenes Club. His
    hands and feet were securely strapped together, and he
    bore over one eye the marks of a violent blow. The
    other, who was secured in a similar fashion, was a
    tall man in the last stage of emaciation, with several
    strips of sticking-plaster arranged in a grotesque
    pattern over his face. He had ceased to moan as we
    laid him down, and a glance showed me that for him at
    least our aid had come too late. Mr. Melas, however,
    still lived, and in less than an hour, with the aid of
    ammonia and brandy I had the satisfaction of seeing
    him open his eyes, and of knowing that my hand had
    drawn him back from that dark valley in which all
    paths meet.

    It was a simple story which he had to tell, and one
    which did but confirm our own deductions. His
    visitor, on entering his rooms, had drawn a
    life-preserver from his sleeve, and had so impressed
    him with the fear of instant and inevitable death that
    he had kidnapped him for the second time. Indeed, it
    was almost mesmeric, the effect which this giggling
    ruffian had produced upon the unfortunate linguist,
    for he could not speak of him save with trembling
    hands and a blanched cheek. He had been taken swiftly
    to Beckenham, and had acted as interpreter in a second
    interview, even more dramatic than the first, in which
    the two Englishmen had menaced their prisoner with
    instant death if he did not comply with their demands.
    Finally, finding him proof against every threat, they
    had hurled him back into his prison, and after
    reproaching Melas with his treachery, which appeared
    from the newspaper advertisement, they had stunned him
    with a blow from a stick, and he remembered nothing
    more until he found us bending over him.

    And this was the singular case of the Grecian
    Interpreter, the explanation of which is still
    involved in some mystery. We were able to find out,
    by communicating with the gentleman who had answered
    the advertisement, that the unfortunate young lady
    came of a wealthy Grecian family, and that she had
    been on a visit to some friends in England. While
    there she had met a young man named Harold Latimer,
    who had acquired an ascendancy over he and had
    eventually persuaded her to fly with him. Her
    friends, shocked at the event, had contented
    themselves with informing her brother at Athens, and
    had then washed their hands of the matter. The
    brother, on his arrival in England, had imprudently
    placed himself in the power of Latimer and of his
    associate, whose name was Wilson Kemp--that through
    his ignorance of the language he was helpless in their
    hands, had kept him a prisoner, and had endeavored by
    cruelty and starvation to make him sign away his own
    and his sister's property. They had kept him in the
    house without the girl's knowledge, and the plaster
    over the face had been for the purpose of making
    recognition difficult in case she should ever catch a
    glimpse of him. Her feminine perception, however, had
    instantly seen through the disguise when, on the
    occasion of the interpreter's visit, she had seen him
    for the first time. The poor girl, however, was
    herself a prisoner, for there was no one about the
    house except the man who acted as coachman, and his
    wife, both of whom were tools of the conspirators.
    Finding that their secret was out, and that their
    prisoner was not to be coerced, the two villains with
    the girl had fled away at a few hours' notice from the
    furnished house which they had hired, having first, as
    they thought, taken vengeance both upon the man who
    had defied and the one who had betrayed them.

    Months afterwards a curious newspaper cutting reached
    us from Buda-Pesth. It told how two Englishmen who
    had been traveling with a woman had met with a tragic
    end. They had each been stabbed, it seems, and the
    Hungarian police were of opinion that they had
    quarreled and had inflicted mortal injuries upon each
    other. Holmes, however, is, I fancy, of a different
    way of thinking, and holds to this day that, if one
    could find the Grecian girl, one might learn how the
    wrongs of herself and her brother came to be avenged.
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    Chapter 9
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