Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
to get started!
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "To resist the frigidity of old age one must combine the body, the mind and the heart - and to keep them in parallel vigor one must exercise, study and love."
    More: Age quotes

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    The Adventure of the Dying Detective

    by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
    • 2 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode
    Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-
    suffering woman. Not only was her first-floor flat invaded at
    all hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters
    but her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity
    in his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His
    incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours,
    his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and
    often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of
    violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst
    tenant in London. On the other hand, his payments were princely.
    I have no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the
    price which Holmes paid for his rooms during the years that I was
    with him.

    The landlady stood in the deepest awe of him and never dared to
    interfere with him, however outrageous his proceedings might
    seem. She was fond of him, too, for he had a remarkable
    gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked
    and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent.
    Knowing how genuine was her regard for him, I listened earnestly
    to her story when she came to my rooms in the second year of my
    married life and told me of the sad condition to which my poor
    friend was reduced.

    "He's dying, Dr. Watson," said she. "For three days he has been
    sinking, and I doubt if he will last the day. He would not let
    me get a doctor. This morning when I saw his bones sticking out
    of his face and his great bright eyes looking at me I could stand
    no more of it. 'With your leave or without it, Mr. Holmes, I am
    going for a doctor this very hour,' said I. 'Let it be Watson,
    then,' said he. I wouldn't waste an hour in coming to him, sir,
    or you may not see him alive."

    I was horrified for I had heard nothing of his illness. I need
    not say that I rushed for my coat and my hat. As we drove back I
    asked for the details.

    "There is little I can tell you, sir. He has been working at a
    case down at Rotherhithe, in an alley near the river, and he has
    brought this illness back with him. He took to his bed on
    Wednesday afternoon and has never moved since. For these three
    days neither food nor drink has passed his lips."

    "Good God! Why did you not call in a doctor?"

    "He wouldn't have it, sir. You know how masterful he is. I
    didn't dare to disobey him. But he's not long for this world, as
    you'll see for yourself the moment that you set eyes on him."

    He was indeed a deplorable spectacle. In the dim light of a
    foggy November day the sick room was a gloomy spot, but it was
    that gaunt, wasted face staring at me from the bed which sent a
    chill to my heart. His eyes had the brightness of fever, there
    was a hectic flush upon either cheek, and dark crusts clung to
    his lips; the thin hands upon the coverlet twitched incessantly,
    his voice was croaking and spasmodic. He lay listlessly as I
    entered the room, but the sight of me brought a gleam of
    recognition to his eyes.

    "Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days," said he in
    a feeble voice, but with something of his old carelessness of

    "My dear fellow!" I cried, approaching him.

    "Stand back! Stand right back!" said he with the sharp
    imperiousness which I had associated only with moments of crisis.
    "If you approach me, Watson, I shall order you out of the house."

    "But why?"

    "Because it is my desire. Is that not enough?"

    Yes, Mrs. Hudson was right. He was more masterful than ever. It
    was pitiful, however, to see his exhaustion.

    "I only wished to help," I explained.

    "Exactly! You will help best by doing what you are told."

    "Certainly, Holmes."

    He relaxed the austerity of his manner.

    "You are not angry?" he asked, gasping for breath.

    Poor devil, how could I be angry when I saw him lying in such a
    plight before me?

    "It's for your own sake, Watson," he croaked.

    "For MY sake?"

    "I know what is the matter with me. It is a coolie disease from
    Sumatra--a thing that the Dutch know more about than we, though
    they have made little of it up to date. One thing only is
    certain. It is infallibly deadly, and it is horribly

    He spoke now with a feverish energy, the long hands twitching and
    jerking as he motioned me away.

    "Contagious by touch, Watson--that's it, by touch. Keep your
    distance and all is well."

    "Good heavens, Holmes! Do you suppose that such a consideration
    weighs with me of an instant? It would not affect me in the case
    of a stranger. Do you imagine it would prevent me from doing my
    duty to so old a friend?"

    Again I advanced, but he repulsed me with a look of furious

    "If you will stand there I will talk. If you do not you must
    leave the room."

    I have so deep a respect for the extraordinary qualities of
    Holmes that I have always deferred to his wishes, even when I
    least understood them. But now all my professional instincts
    were aroused. Let him be my master elsewhere, I at least was his
    in a sick room.

    "Holmes," said I, "you are not yourself. A sick man is but a
    child, and so I will treat you. Whether you like it or not, I
    will examine your symptoms and treat you for them."

    He looked at me with venomous eyes.

    "If I am to have a doctor whether I will or not, let me at least
    have someone in whom I have confidence," said he.

    "Then you have none in me?"

    "In your friendship, certainly. But facts are facts, Watson,
    and, after all, you are only a general practitioner with very
    limited experience and mediocre qualifications. It is painful to
    have to say these things, but you leave me no choice."

    I was bitterly hurt.

    "Such a remark is unworthy of you, Holmes. It shows me very
    clearly the state of your own nerves. But if you have no
    confidence in me I would not intrude my services. Let me bring
    Sir Jasper Meek or Penrose Fisher, or any of the best men in
    London. But someone you MUST have, and that is final. If you
    think that I am going to stand here and see you die without
    either helping you myself or bringing anyone else to help you,
    then you have mistaken your man."

    "You mean well, Watson," said the sick man with something between
    a sob and a groan. "Shall I demonstrate your own ignorance?
    What do you know, pray, of Tapanuli fever? What do you know of
    the black Formosa corruption?"

    "I have never heard of either."

    "There are many problems of disease, many strange pathological
    possibilities, in the East, Watson." He paused after each
    sentence to collect his failing strength. "I have learned so
    much during some recent researches which have a medico-criminal
    aspect. It was in the course of them that I contracted this
    complaint. You can do nothing."

    "Possibly not. But I happen to know that Dr. Ainstree, the
    greatest living authority upon tropical disease, is now in
    London. All remonstrance is useless, Holmes, I am going this
    instant to fetch him." I turned resolutely to the door.

    Never have I had such a shock! In an instant, with a tiger-
    spring, the dying man had intercepted me. I heard the sharp snap
    of a twisted key. The next moment he had staggered back to his
    bed, exhausted and panting after his one tremendous outflame of

    "You won't take the key from be by force, Watson, I've got you,
    my friend. Here you are, and here you will stay until I will
    otherwise. But I'll humour you." (All this in little gasps,
    with terrible struggles for breath between.) "You've only my own
    good at heart. Of course I know that very well. You shall have
    your way, but give me time to get my strength. Not now, Watson,
    not now. It's four o'clock. At six you can go."

    "This is insanity, Holmes."

    "Only two hours, Watson. I promise you will go at six. Are you
    content to wait?"

    "I seem to have no choice."

    "None in the world, Watson. Thank you, I need no help in
    arranging the clothes. You will please keep your distance. Now,
    Watson, there is one other condition that I would make. You will
    seek help, not from the man you mention, but from the one that I

    "By all means."

    "The first three sensible words that you have uttered since you
    entered this room, Watson. You will find some books over there.
    I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it
    pours electricity into a non-conductor? At six, Watson, we
    resume our conversation."

    But it was destined to be resumed long before that hour, and in
    circumstances which gave me a shock hardly second to that caused
    by his spring to the door. I had stood for some minutes looking
    at the silent figure in the bed. His face was almost covered by
    the clothes and he appeared to be asleep. Then, unable to settle
    down to reading, I walked slowly round the room, examining the
    pictures of celebrated criminals with which every wall was
    adorned. Finally, in my aimless perambulation, I came to the
    mantelpiece. A litter of pipes, tobacco-pouches, syringes,
    penknives, revolver-cartridges, and other debris was scattered
    over it. In the midst of these was a small black and white ivory
    box with a sliding lid. It was a neat little thing, and I had
    stretched out my hand to examine it more closely when

    It was a dreadful cry that he gave--a yell which might have been
    heard down the street. My skin went cold and my hair bristled at
    that horrible scream. As I turned I caught a glimpse of a
    convulsed face and frantic eyes. I stood paralyzed, with the
    little box in my hand.

    "Put it down! Down, this instant, Watson--this instant, I say!"
    His head sank back upon the pillow and he gave a deep sigh of
    relief as I replaced the box upon the mantelpiece. "I hate to
    have my things touched, Watson. You know that I hate it. You
    fidget me beyond endurance. You, a doctor--you are enough to
    drive a patient into an asylum. Sit down, man, and let me have
    my rest!"

    The incident left a most unpleasant impression upon my mind. The
    violent and causeless excitement, followed by this brutality of
    speech, so far removed from his usual suavity, showed me how deep
    was the disorganization of his mind. Of all ruins, that of a
    noble mind is the most deplorable. I sat in silent dejection
    until the stipulated time had passed. He seemed to have been
    watching the clock as well as I, for it was hardly six before he
    began to talk with the same feverish animation as before.

    "Now, Watson," said he. "Have you any change in your pocket?"


    "Any silver?"

    "A good deal."

    "How many half-crowns?"

    "I have five."

    "Ah, too few! Too few! How very unfortunate, Watson! However,
    such as they are you can put them in your watchpocket. And all
    the rest of your money in your left trouser pocket. Thank you.
    It will balance you so much better like that."

    This was raving insanity. He shuddered, and again made a sound
    between a cough and a sob.

    "You will now light the gas, Watson, but you will be very careful
    that not for one instant shall it be more than half on. I
    implore you to be careful, Watson. Thank you, that is excellent.
    No, you need not draw the blind. Now you will have the kindness
    to place some letters and papers upon this table within my reach.
    Thank you. Now some of that litter from the mantelpiece.
    Excellent, Watson! There is a sugar-tongs there. Kindly raise
    that small ivory box with its assistance. Place it here among
    the papers. Good! You can now go and fetch Mr. Culverton Smith,
    of 13 Lower Burke Street."

    To tell the truth, my desire to fetch a doctor had somewhat
    weakened, for poor Holmes was so obviously delirious that it
    seemed dangerous to leave him. However, he was as eager now to
    consult the person named as he had been obstinate in refusing.

    "I never heard the name," said I.

    "Possibly not, my good Watson. It may surprise you to know that
    the man upon earth who is best versed in this disease is not a
    medical man, but a planter. Mr. Culverton Smith is a well-known
    resident of Sumatra, now visiting London. An outbreak of the
    disease upon his plantation, which was distant from medical aid,
    caused him to study it himself, with some rather far-reaching
    consequences. He is a very methodical person, and I did not
    desire you to start before six, because I was well aware that you
    would not find him in his study. If you could persuade him to
    come here and give us the benefit of his unique experience of
    this disease, the investigation of which has been his dearest
    hobby, I cannot doubt that he could help me."

    I gave Holmes's remarks as a consecutive whole and will not
    attempt to indicate how they were interrupted by gaspings for
    breath and those clutchings of his hands which indicated the pain
    from which he was suffering. His appearance had changed for the
    worse during the few hours that I had been with him. Those
    hectic spots were more pronounced, the eyes shone more brightly
    out of darker hollows, and a cold sweat glimmered upon his brow.
    He still retained, however, the jaunty gallantry of his speech.
    To the last gasp he would always be the master.

    "You will tell him exactly how you have left me," said he. "You
    will convey the very impression which is in your own mind--a
    dying man--a dying and delirious man. Indeed, I cannot think why
    the whole bed of the ocean is not one solid mass of oysters, so
    prolific the creatures seem. Ah, I am wondering! Strange how
    the brain controls the brain! What was I saying, Watson?"

    "My directions for Mr. Culverton Smith."

    "Ah, yes, I remember. My life depends upon it. Plead with him,
    Watson. There is no good feeling between us. His nephew,
    Watson--I had suspicions of foul play and I allowed him to see
    it. The boy died horribly. He has a grudge against me. You
    will soften him, Watson. Beg him, pray him, get him here by any
    means. He can save me--only he!"

    "I will bring him in a cab, if I have to carry him down to it."

    "You will do nothing of the sort. You will persuade him to come.
    And then you will return in front of him. Make any excuse so as
    not to come with him. Don't forget, Watson. You won't fail me.
    You never did fail me. No doubt there are natural enemies which
    limit the increase of the creatures. You and I, Watson, we have
    done our part. Shall the world, then, be overrun by oysters?
    No, no; horrible! You'll convey all that is in your mind."

    I left him full of the image of this magnificent intellect
    babbling like a foolish child. He had handed me the key, and
    with a happy thought I took it with me lest he should lock
    himself in. Mrs. Hudson was waiting, trembling and weeping, in
    the passage. Behind me as I passed from the flat I heard
    Holmes's high, thin voice in some delirious chant. Below, as I
    stood whistling for a cab, a man came on me through the fog.

    "How is Mr. Holmes, sir?" he asked.

    It was an old acquaintance, Inspector Morton, of Scotland Yard,
    dressed in unofficial tweeds.

    "He is very ill," I answered.

    He looked at me in a most singular fashion. Had it not been too
    fiendish, I could have imagined that the gleam of the fanlight
    showed exultation in his face.

    "I heard some rumour of it," said he.

    The cab had driven up, and I left him.

    Lower Burke Street proved to be a line of fine houses lying in
    the vague borderland between Notting Hill and Kensington. The
    particular one at which my cabman pulled up had an air of smug
    and demure respectability in its old-fashioned iron railings, its
    massive folding-door, and its shining brasswork. All was in
    keeping with a solemn butler who appeared framed in the pink
    radiance of a tinted electrical light behind him.

    "Yes, Mr. Culverton Smith is in. Dr. Watson! Very good, sir, I
    will take up your card."

    My humble name and title did not appear to impress Mr. Culverton
    Smith. Through the half-open door I heard a high, petulant,
    penetrating voice.

    "Who is this person? What does he want? Dear me, Staples, how
    often have I said that I am not to be disturbed in my hours of

    There came a gentle flow of soothing explanation from the butler.

    "Well, I won't see him, Staples. I can't have my work
    interrupted like this. I am not at home. Say so. Tell him to
    come in the morning if he really must see me."

    Again the gentle murmur.

    "Well, well, give him that message. He can come in the morning,
    or he can stay away. My work must not be hindered."

    I thought of Holmes tossing upon his bed of sickness and counting
    the minutes, perhaps, until I could bring help to him. It was
    not a time to stand upon ceremony. His life depended upon my
    promptness. Before the apologetic butler had delivered his
    message I had pushed past him and was in the room.

    With a shrill cry of anger a man rose from a reclining chair
    beside the fire. I saw a great yellow face, coarse-grained and
    greasy, with heavy, double-chin, and two sullen, menacing gray
    eyes which glared at me from under tufted and sandy brows. A
    high bald head had a small velvet smoking-cap poised coquettishly
    upon one side of its pink curve. The skull was of enormous
    capacity, and yet as I looked down I saw to my amazement that the
    figure of the man was small and frail, twisted in the shoulders
    and back like one who has suffered from rickets in his childhood.

    "What's this?" he cried in a high, screaming voice. "What is the
    meaning of this intrusion? Didn't I send you word that I would
    see you to-morrow morning?"

    "I am sorry," said I, "but the matter cannot be delayed. Mr.
    Sherlock Holmes--"

    The mention of my friend's name had an extraordinary effect upon
    the little man. The look of anger passed in an instant from his
    face. His features became tense and alert.

    "Have you come from Holmes?" he asked.

    "I have just left him."

    "What about Holmes? How is he?"

    "He is desperately ill. That is why I have come."

    The man motioned me to a chair, and turned to resume his own. As
    he did so I caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror over the
    mantelpiece. I could have sworn that it was set in a malicious
    and abominable smile. Yet I persuaded myself that it must have
    been some nervous contraction which I had surprised, for he
    turned to me an instant later with genuine concern upon his

    "I am sorry to hear this," said he. "I only know Mr. Holmes
    through some business dealings which we have had, but I have
    every respect for his talents and his character. He is an
    amateur of crime, as I am of disease. For him the villain, for
    me the microbe. There are my prisons," he continued, pointing to
    a row of bottles and jars which stood upon a side table. "Among
    those gelatine cultivations some of the very worst offenders in
    the world are now doing time."

    "It was on account of your special knowledge that Mr. Holmes
    desired to see you. He has a high opinion of you and thought
    that you were the one man in London who could help him."

    The little man started, and the jaunty smoking-cap slid to the

    "Why?" he asked. "Why should Mr. Homes think that I could help
    him in his trouble?"

    "Because of your knowledge of Eastern diseases."

    "But why should he think that this disease which he has
    contracted is Eastern?"

    "Because, in some professional inquiry, he has been working among
    Chinese sailors down in the docks."

    Mr. Culverton Smith smiled pleasantly and picked up his smoking-

    "Oh, that's it--is it?" said he. "I trust the matter is not so
    grave as you suppose. How long has he been ill?"

    "About three days."

    "Is he delirious?"


    "Tut, tut! This sounds serious. It would be inhuman not to
    answer his call. I very much resent any interruption to my work,
    Dr. Watson, but this case is certainly exceptional. I will come
    with you at once."

    I remembered Holmes's injunction.

    "I have another appointment," said I.

    "Very good. I will go alone. I have a note of Mr. Holmes's
    address. You can rely upon my being there within half an hour at

    It was with a sinking heart that I reentered Holmes's bedroom.
    For all that I knew the worst might have happened in my absence.
    To my enormous relief, he had improved greatly in the interval.
    His appearance was as ghastly as ever, but all trace of delirium
    had left him and he spoke in a feeble voice, it is true, but with
    even more than his usual crispness and lucidity.

    "Well, did you see him, Watson?"

    "Yes; he is coming."

    "Admirable, Watson! Admirable! You are the best of messengers."

    "He wished to return with me."

    "That would never do, Watson. That would be obviously
    impossible. Did he ask what ailed me?"

    "I told him about the Chinese in the East End."

    "Exactly! Well, Watson, you have done all that a good friend
    could. You can now disappear from the scene."

    "I must wait and hear his opinion, Holmes."

    "Of course you must. But I have reasons to suppose that this
    opinion would be very much more frank and valuable if he imagines
    that we are alone. There is just room behind the head of my bed,

    "My dear Holmes!"

    "I fear there is no alternative, Watson. The room does not lend
    itself to concealment, which is as well, as it is the less likely
    to arouse suspicion. But just there, Watson, I fancy that it
    could be done." Suddenly he sat up with a rigid intentness upon
    his haggard face. "There are the wheels, Watson. Quick, man, if
    you love me! And don't budge, whatever happens--whatever
    happens, do you hear? Don't speak! Don't move! Just listen
    with all your ears." Then in an instant his sudden access of
    strength departed, and his masterful, purposeful talk droned away
    into the low, vague murmurings of a semi-delirious man.

    >From the hiding-place into which I had been so swiftly hustled I
    heard the footfalls upon the stair, with the opening and the
    closing of the bedroom door. Then, to my surprise, there came a
    long silence, broken only by the heavy breathings and gaspings of
    the sick man. I could imagine that our visitor was standing by
    the bedside and looking down at the sufferer. At last that
    strange hush was broken.

    "Holmes!" he cried. "Holmes!" in the insistent tone of one who
    awakens a sleeper. "Can't you hear me, Holmes?" There was a
    rustling, as if he had shaken the sick man roughly by the

    "Is that you, Mr. Smith?" Holmes whispered. "I hardly dared
    hope that you would come."

    The other laughed.

    "I should imagine not," he said. "And yet, you see, I am here.
    Coals of fire, Holmes--coals of fire!"

    "It is very good of you--very noble of you. I appreciate your
    special knowledge."

    Our visitor sniggered.

    "You do. You are, fortunately, the only man in London who does.
    Do you know what is the matter with you?"

    "The same," said Holmes.

    "Ah! You recognize the symptoms?"

    "Only too well."

    "Well, I shouldn't be surprised, Holmes. I shouldn't be
    surprised if it WERE the same. A bad lookout for you if it is.
    Poor Victor was a dead man on the fourth day--a strong, hearty
    young fellow. It was certainly, as you said, very surprising
    that he should have contracted and out-of-the-way Asiatic disease
    in the heart of London--a disease, too, of which I had made such
    a very special study. Singular coincidence, Holmes. Very smart
    of you to notice it, but rather uncharitable to suggest that it
    was cause and effect."

    "I knew that you did it."

    "Oh, you did, did you? Well, you couldn't prove it, anyhow. But
    what do you think of yourself spreading reports about me like
    that, and then crawling to me for help the moment you are in
    trouble? What sort of a game is that--eh?"

    I heard the rasping, laboured breathing of the sick man. "Give
    me the water!" he gasped.

    "You're precious near your end, my friend, but I don't want you
    to go till I have had a word with you. That's why I give you
    water. There, don't slop it about! That's right. Can you
    understand what I say?"

    Holmes groaned.

    "Do what you can for me. Let bygones be bygones," he whispered.
    "I'll put the words out of my head--I swear I will. Only cure
    me, and I'll forget it."

    "Forget what?"

    "Well, about Victor Savage's death. You as good as admitted just
    now that you had done it. I'll forget it."

    "You can forget it or remember it, just as you like. I don't see
    you in the witnessbox. Quite another shaped box, my good Holmes,
    I assure you. It matters nothing to me that you should know how
    my nephew died. It's not him we are talking about. It's you."

    "Yes, yes."

    "The fellow who came for me--I've forgotten his name--said that
    you contracted it down in the East End among the sailors."

    "I could only account for it so."

    "You are proud of your brains, Holmes, are you not? Think
    yourself smart, don't you? You came across someone who was
    smarter this time. Now cast your mind back, Holmes. Can you
    think of no other way you could have got this thing?"

    "I can't think. My mind is gone. For heaven's sake help me!"

    "Yes, I will help you. I'll help you to understand just where
    you are and how you got there. I'd like you to know before you

    "Give me something to ease my pain."

    "Painful, is it? Yes, the coolies used to do some squealing
    towards the end. Takes you as cramp, I fancy."

    "Yes, yes; it is cramp."

    "Well, you can hear what I say, anyhow. Listen now! Can you
    remember any unusual incident in your life just about the time
    your symptoms began?"

    "No, no; nothing."

    "Think again."

    "I'm too ill to think."

    "Well, then, I'll help you. Did anything come by post?"

    "By post?"

    "A box by chance?"

    "I'm fainting--I'm gone!"

    "Listen, Holmes!" There was a sound as if he was shaking the
    dying man, and it was all that I could do to hold myself quiet in
    my hiding-place. "You must hear me. You SHALL hear me. Do you
    remember a box--an ivory box? It came on Wednesday. You opened
    it--do you remember?"

    "Yes, yes, I opened it. There was a sharp spring inside it.
    Some joke--"

    "It was no joke, as you will find to your cost. You fool, you
    would have it and you have got it. Who asked you to cross my
    path? If you had left me alone I would not have hurt you."

    "I remember," Holmes gasped. "The spring! It drew blood. This
    box--this on the table."

    "The very one, by George! And it may as well leave the room in
    my pocket. There goes your last shred of evidence. But you have
    the truth now, Holmes, and you can die with the knowledge that I
    killed you. You knew too much of the fate of Victor Savage, so I
    have sent you to share it. You are very near your end, Holmes.
    I will sit here and I will watch you die."

    Holmes's voice had sunk to an almost inaudible whisper.

    "What is that?" said Smith. "Turn up the gas? Ah, the shadows
    begin to fall, do they? Yes, I will turn it up, that I may see
    you the better." He crossed the room and the light suddenly
    brightened. "Is there any other little service that I can do
    you, my friend?"

    "A match and a cigarette."

    I nearly called out in my joy and my amazement. He was speaking
    in his natural voice--a little weak, perhaps, but the very voice
    I knew. There was a long pause, and I felt that Culverton Smith
    was standing in silent amazement looking down at his companion.

    "What's the meaning of this?" I heard him say at last in a dry,
    rasping tone.

    "The best way of successfully acting a part is to be it," said
    Holmes. "I give you my word that for three days I have tasted
    neither food nor drink until you were good enough to pour me out
    that glass of water. But it is the tobacco which I find most
    irksome. Ah, here ARE some cigarettes." I heard the striking of
    a match. "That is very much better. Halloa! halloa! Do I hear
    the step of a friend?"

    There were footfalls outside, the door opened, and Inspector
    Morton appeared.

    "All is in order and this is your man," said Holmes.

    The officer gave the usual cautions.

    "I arrest you on the charge of the murder of one Victor Savage,"
    he concluded.

    "And you might add of the attempted murder of one Sherlock
    Holmes," remarked my friend with a chuckle. "To save an invalid
    trouble, Inspector, Mr. Culverton Smith was good enough to give
    our signal by turning up the gas. By the way, the prisoner has a
    small box in the right-hand pocket of his coat which it would be
    as well to remove. Thank you. I would handle it gingerly if I
    were you. Put it down here. It may play its part in the trial."

    There was a sudden rush and a scuffle, followed by the clash of
    iron and a cry of pain.

    "You'll only get yourself hurt," said the inspector. "Stand
    still, will you?" There was the click of the closing handcuffs.

    "A nice trap!" cried the high, snarling voice. "It will bring
    YOU into the dock, Holmes, not me. He asked me to come here to
    cure him. I was sorry for him and I came. Now he will pretend,
    no doubt, that I have said anything which he may invent which
    will corroborate his insane suspicions. You can lie as you like,
    Holmes. My word is always as good as yours."

    "Good heavens!" cried Holmes. "I had totally forgotten him. My
    dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies. To think that I
    should have overlooked you! I need not introduce you to Mr.
    Culverton Smith, since I understand that you met somewhat earlier
    in the evening. Have you the cab below? I will follow you when I
    am dressed, for I may be of some use at the station.

    "I never needed it more," said Holmes as he refreshed himself
    with a glass of claret and some biscuits in the intervals of his
    toilet. "However, as you know, my habits are irregular, and such
    a feat means less to me than to most men. It was very essential
    that I should impress Mrs. Hudson with the reality of my
    condition, since she was to convey it to you, and you in turn to
    him. You won't be offended, Watson? You will realize that among
    your many talents dissimulation finds no place, and that if you
    had shared my secret you would never have been able to impress
    Smith with the urgent necessity of his presence, which was the
    vital point of the whole scheme. Knowing his vindictive nature,
    I was perfectly certain that he would come to look upon his

    "But your appearance, Holmes--your ghastly face?"

    "Three days of absolute fast does not improve one's beauty,
    Watson. For the rest, there is nothing which a sponge may not
    cure. With vaseline upon one's forehead, belladonna in one's
    eyes, rouge over the cheek-bones, and crusts of beeswax round
    one's lips, a very satisfying effect can be produced.
    Malingering is a subject upon which I have sometimes thought of
    writing a monograph. A little occasional talk about half-crowns,
    oysters, or any other extraneous subject produces a pleasing
    effect of delirium."

    "But why would you not let me near you, since there was in truth
    no infection?"

    "Can you ask, my dear Watson? Do you imagine that I have no
    respect for your medical talents? Could I fancy that your astute
    judgment would pass a dying man who, however weak, had no rise of
    pulse or temperature? At four yards, I could deceive you. If I
    failed to do so, who would bring my Smith within my grasp? No,
    Watson, I would not touch that box. You can just see if you look
    at it sideways where the sharp spring like a viper's tooth
    emerges as you open it. I dare say it was by some such device
    that poor Savage, who stood between this monster and a reversion,
    was done to death. My correspondence, however, is, as you know,
    a varied one, and I am somewhat upon my guard against any
    packages which reach me. It was clear to me, however, that by
    pretending that he had really succeeded in his design I might
    surprise a confession. That pretence I have carried out with the
    thoroughness of the true artist. Thank you, Watson, you must
    help me on with my coat. When we have finished at the police-
    station I think that something nutritious at Simpson's would not
    be out of place."
    If you're writing a The Adventure of the Dying Detective essay and need some advice, post your Arthur Conan Doyle essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?