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The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor

The Lord St. Simon marriage, and its curious termination, have long ceased to be a subject of interest in those exalted circles in which the unfortunate bridegroom moves. Fresh scandals have ecli sed it, and their more i!uant details have drawn the gossi s awa" from this four#"ear#old drama. As $ have reason to believe, however, that the full facts have never been revealed to the general ublic, and as m" friend Sherloc% &olmes had a considerable share in clearing the matter u , $ feel that no memoir of him would be com lete without some little s%etch of this remar%able e isode. $t was a few wee%s before m" own marriage, during the da"s when $ was still sharing rooms with &olmes in Ba%er Street, that he came home from an afternoon stroll to find a letter on the table waiting for him. $ had remained indoors all da", for the weather had ta%en a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal winds, and the 'e(ail bullet which $ had brought bac% in one of m" limbs as a relic of m" Afghan cam aign throbbed with dull ersistence. )ith m" bod" in one eas"#chair and m" legs u on another, $ had surrounded m"self with a cloud of news a ers until at last, saturated with the news of the da", $ tossed them all aside and la" listless, watching the huge crest and monogram u on the envelo e u on the table and wondering la(il" who m" friend*s noble corres ondent could be. +&ere is a ver" fashionable e istle,+ $ remar%ed as he entered. +,our morning letters, if $ remember right, were from a fish#monger and a tide#waiter.+ +,es, m" corres ondence has certainl" the charm of variet",+ he answered, smiling, +and the humbler are usuall" the more interesting. This loo%s li%e one of those unwelcome social summonses which call u on a man either to be bored or to lie.+ &e bro%e the seal and glanced over the contents. +-h, come, it ma" rove to be something of interest, after all.+ +Not social, then.+ +No, distinctl" rofessional.+ +And from a noble client.+ +-ne of the highest in /ngland.+ +0" dear fellow. $ congratulate "ou.+ +$ assure "ou, )atson, without affectation, that the status of

m" client is a matter of less moment to me than the interest of his case. $t is just ossible, however, that that also ma" not be wanting in this new investigation. ,ou have been reading the a ers diligentl" of late, have "ou not.+ +$t loo%s li%e it,+ said $ ruefull", ointing to a huge bundle in the corner. +$ have had nothing else to do.+ +$t is fortunate, for "ou will erha s be able to ost me u . $ read nothing exce t the criminal news and the agon" column. The latter is alwa"s instructive. But if "ou have followed recent events so closel" "ou must have read about Lord St. Simon and his wedding.+ +-h, "es, with the dee est interest.+ +That is well. The letter which $ hold in m" hand is from Lord St. Simon. $ will read it to "ou, and in return "ou must turn over these a ers and let me have whatever bears u on the matter. This is what he sa"s1 0, 2/A3 03. S&/3L-45 &-L0/S1 +Lord Bac%water tells me that $ ma" lace im licit reliance u on "our judgment and discretion. $ have determined, therefore, to call u on "ou and to consult "ou in reference to the ver" ainful event which has occurred in connection with m" wedding. 0r. Lestrade, of Scotland ,ard, is acting alread" in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no objection to "our coo eration, and that he even thin%s that it might be of some assistance. $ will call at four o*cloc% in the afternoon, and, should "ou have an" other engagement at that time, $ ho e that "ou will ost one it, as this matter is of aramount im ortance. +,ours faithfull", +ST. S$0-N. +$t is dated from 6rosvenor 0ansions, written with a !uill en, and the noble lord has had the misfortune to get a smear of in% u on the outer side of his right little finger,+ remar%ed &olmes as he folded u the e istle. +&e sa"s four o*cloc%. $t is three now. &e will be here in an hour.+ +Then $ have just time, with "our assistance, to get clear u on the subject. Turn over those a ers and arrange the extracts in their order of time, while $ ta%e a glance as to who our client is.+ &e ic%ed a red#covered volume from a line of boo%s of reference beside the mantel iece. +&ere he is,+ said he, sitting down and flattening it out u on his %nee. +Lord 3obert )alsingham de 7ere St. Simon, second son of the 2u%e of Balmoral. &um8 Arms1 A(ure, three caltro s in chief over a fess sable. Born in 9:;<. &e*s fort"#one "ears of age, which is

mature for marriage. )as =nder#Secretar" for the colonies in a late administration. The 2u%e, his father, was at one time Secretar" for Foreign Affairs. The" inherit >lantagenet blood b" direct descent, and Tudor on the distaff side. &a8 )ell, there is nothing ver" instructive in all this. $ thin% that $ must turn to "ou )atson, for something more solid.+ +$ have ver" little difficult" in finding what $ want,+ said $, +for the facts are !uite recent, and the matter struc% me as remar%able. $ feared to refer them to "ou, however, as $ %new that "ou had an in!uir" on hand and that "ou disli%ed the intrusion of other matters.+ +-h, "ou mean the little roblem of the 6rosvenor S!uare furniture van. That is !uite cleared u now ## though, indeed, it was obvious from the first. >ra" give me the results of "our news a er selections.+ +&ere is the first notice which $ can find. $t is in the ersonal column of the 0orning >ost, and dates, as "ou see, some wee%s bac%1 +A marriage has been arranged ?it sa"s@ and will, if rumour is correct, ver" shortl" ta%e lace, between Lord 3obert St. Simon, second son of the 2u%e of Balmoral, and 0iss &att" 2oran, the onl" daughter of Alo"sius 2oran. /s!., of San Francisco, 4al., =. S. A. That is all.+ +Terse and to the oint,+ remar%ed &olmes, stretching his long, thin legs towards the fire. +There was a aragra h am lif"ing this in one of the societ" a ers of the same wee%. Ah, here it is1 +There will soon be a call for rotection in the marriage mar%et, for the resent free#trade rinci le a ears to tell heavil" against our home roduct. -ne b" one the management of the noble houses of 6reat Britain is assing into the hands of our fair cousins from across the Atlantic. An im ortant addition has been made during the last wee% to the list of the ri(es which have been borne awa" b" these charming invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown himself for over twent" "ears roof against the little god*s arrows, has now definitel" announced his a roaching marriage with 0iss &att" 2oran, the fascinating daughter of a 4alifornia millionaire. 0iss 2oran, whose graceful figure and stri%ing face attracted much attention at the )estbur" &ouse festivities, is an onl" child, and it is currentl" re orted that her dowr" will run to considerabl" over the six figures, with

ex ectancies for the future. As it is an o en secret that the 2u%e of Balmoral has been com elled to sell his ictures within the last few "ears, and as Lord St. Simon has no ro ert" of his own save the small estate of Birchmoor, it is obvious that the 4alifornian heiress is not the onl" gainer b" an alliance which will enable her to ma%e the eas" and common transition from a 3e ublican lad" to a British eeress.+ +An"thing else.+ as%ed &olmes, "awning. +-h, "esA lent". Then there is another note in the 0orning >ost to sa" that the marriage would be an absolutel" !uiet one, that it would be at St. 6eorge*s, &anover S!uare, that onl" half a do(en intimate friends would be invited, and that the art" would return to the furnished house at Lancaster 6ate which has been ta%en b" 0r. Alo"sius 2oran. Two da"s later ## that is, on )ednesda" last ## there is a curt announcement that the wedding had ta%en lace, and that the hone"moon would be assed at Lord Bac%water*s lace, near >etersfield. Those are all the no# tices which a eared before the disa earance of the bride.+ +Before the what.+ as%ed &olmes with a start. +The vanishing of the lad".+ +)hen did she vanish, then.+ +At the wedding brea%fast.+ +$ndeed. This is more interesting than it romised to beA !uite dramatic, in fact.+ +,esA it struc% me as being a little out of the common.+ +The" often vanish before the ceremon", and occasionall" during the hone"moonA but $ cannot call to mind an"thing !uite so rom t as this. >ra" let me have the details.+ +$ warn "ou that the" are ver" incom lete.+ +>erha s we ma" ma%e them less so.+ +Such as the" are, the" are set forth in a single article of a morning a er of "esterda", which $ will read to "ou. $t is headed, *Singular -ccurrence at a Fashionable )edding*1 +The famil" of Lord 3obert St. Simon has been thrown into the greatest consternation b" the strange and ainful e isodes which have ta%en lace in connection with his wedding. The ceremon", as shortl" announced in the a ers of "esterda", occurred on the revious morningA but it is onl" now that it has been ossible to confirm the strange rumours which have been so ersistentl" floating about. $n s ite of the attem ts of the friends to hush the matter u , so much ublic attention has now been drawn to it that no good ur ose can be served b" affecting to disregard what is a common subject for conversation.

+The ceremon", which was erformed at St. 6eorge*s, &anover S!uare, was a ver" !uiet one, no one being resent save the father of the bride, 0r. Alo"sius 2oran, the 2uchess of Balmoral, Lord Bac%water, Lord /ustace, and Lad" 4lara St. Simon Bthe "ounger brother and sister of the bridegroomC, and Lad" Alicia )hittington. The whole art" roceeded afterwards to the house of 0r. Alo"sius 2oran, at Lancaster 6ate, where brea%fast had been re ared. $t a ears that some little trouble was caused b" a woman, whose name has not been ascertained, who endeavoured to force her wa" into the house after the bridal art", alleging that she had some claim u on Lord St. Simon. $t was onl" after a ainful and rolonged scene that she was ejected b" the butler and the footman. The bride, who had fortunatel" entered the house before this un leasant interru tion, had sat down to brea%fast with the rest, when she com lained of a sudden indis osition and retired to her room. &er rolonged absence having caused some comment, her father followed her, but learned from her maid that she had onl" come u to her chamber for an instant, caught u an ulster and bonnet, and hurried down to the assage. -ne of the footmen declared that he had seen a lad" leave the house thus a arelled, but had refused to credit that it was his mistress, believing her to be with the com an". -n ascertaining that his daughter had disa eared, 0r. Alo"sius 2oran, in conjunction with the bridegroom, instantl" ut themselves in communication with the olice, and ver" energetic in!uiries are being made, which will robabl" result in a s eed" clearing u of this ver" singular business. = to a late hour last night, however, nothing had trans ired as to the whereabouts of the missing lad". There are rumours of foul la" in the matter, and it is said that the olice have caused the arrest of the woman who had caused the original disturbance, in the belief that, from jealous" or some other motive, she ma" have been concerned in the strange disa earance of the bride.+ +And is that all.+ +-nl" one little item in another of the morning a ers, but it is a suggestive one.+ +And it is ##+ +That 0iss Flora 0illar, the lad" who had caused the disturbance, has actuall" been arrested. $t a ears that she was formerl" a danseuse at the Allegro, and that she has %nown the bridegroom for some "ears. There are no further articulars, and the whole case is in "our hands now ## so far as it has been set

forth in the ublic ress.+ +And an exceedingl" interesting case it a ears to be. $ would not have missed it for worlds. But there is a ring at the bell, )atson, and as the cloc% ma%es it a few minutes after four, $ have no doubt that this will rove to be our noble client. 2o not dream of going, )atson, for $ ver" much refer having a witness, if onl" as a chec% to m" own memor".+ +Lord 3obert St. Simon,+ announced our age#bo", throwing o en the door. A gentleman entered, with a leasant, cultured face, high#nosed and ale, with something erha s of etulance about the mouth, and with the stead", well#o ened e"e of a man whose leasant lot it had ever been to command and to be obe"ed. &is manner was bris%, and "et his general a earance gave an undue im ression of age, for he had a slight forward stoo and a little bend of the %nees as he wal%ed. &is hair, too, as he swe t off his ver" curl"#brimmed hat, was gri((led round the edges and thin u on the to . As to his dress, it was careful to the verge of fo ishness, with high collar, blac% froc%#coat, white waistcoat, "ellow gloves, atent#leather shoes, and light#coloured gaiters. &e advanced slowl" into the room, turning his head from left to right, and swinging in his right hand the cord which held his golden e"eglasses. +6oodda", Lord St. Simon,+ said &olmes, rising and bow# ing. +>ra" ta%e the bas%et#chair. This is m" friend and colleague, 2r. )atson. 2raw u a little to the fire, and we will tal% this matter over.+ +A most ainful matter to me, as "ou can most readil" imagine, 0r. &olmes. $ have been cut to the !uic%. $ understand that "ou have alread" managed several delicate cases of this sort sir, though $ resume that the" were hardl" from the same class of societ".+ +No, $ am descending.+ +$ beg ardon.+ +0" last client of the sort was a %ing.+ +-h, reall"8 $ had no idea. And which %ing.+ +The 5ing of Scandinavia.+ +)hat8 &ad he lost his wife.+ +,ou can understand,+ said &olmes suavel", +that $ extend to the affairs of m" other clients the same secrec" which $ romise to "ou in "ours.+ +-f course8 7er" right8 ver" right8 $*m sure $ beg ardon. As to m" own case, $ am read" to give "ou an" information which ma" assist "ou in forming an o inion.+ +Than% "ou. $ have alread" learned all that is in the ublic rints, nothing more. $ resume that $ ma" ta%e it as correct ## this article, for exam le, as to the disa earance of the bride.+

Lord St. Simon glanced over it. +,es, it is correct, as far as it goes.+ +But it needs a great deal of su lementing before an"one could offer an o inion. $ thin% that $ ma" arrive at m" facts most directl" b" !uestioning "ou.+ +>ra" do so.+ +)hen did "ou first meet 0iss &att" 2oran.+ +$n San Francisco, a "ear ago.+ +,ou were travelling in the States.+ +,es.+ +2id "ou become engaged then.+ +No.+ +But "ou were on a friendl" footing.+ +$ was amused b" her societ", and she could see that $ was amused.+ +&er father is ver" rich.+ +&e is said to be the richest man on the >acific slo e.+ +And how did he ma%e his mone".+ +$n mining. &e had nothing a few "ears ago. Then he struc% gold, invested it, and came u b" lea s and bounds.+ +Now, what is "our own im ression as to the "oung lad"*s ## "our wife*s character.+ The nobleman swung his glasses a little faster and stared down into the fire. +,ou see, 0r. &olmes,+ said he, +m" wife was twent" before her father became a rich man. 2uring that time she ran free in a mining cam and wandered through woods or mountains, so that her education has come from Nature rather than from the schoolmaster. She is what we call in /ngland a tombo", with a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered b" an" sort of traditions. She is im etuous ## volcanic, $ was about to sa". She is swift in ma%ing u her mind and fearless in carr"ing out her resolutions. -n the other hand, $ would not have given her the name which $ have the honour to bear+ ## he gave a little statel" cough ## +had not $ thought her to be at bottom a noble woman. $ believe that she is ca able of heroic self#sacrifice and that an"thing dishonourable would be re ugnant to her.+ +&ave "ou her hotogra h.+ +$ brought this with me.+ &e o ened a loc%et and showed us the full face of a ver" lovel" woman. $t was not a hotogra h but an ivor" miniature, and the artist had brought out the full effect of the lustrous blac% hair, the large dar% e"es, and the ex!uisite mouth. &olmes ga(ed long and earnestl" at it. Then he closed the loc%et and handed it bac% to Lord St. Simon. +The "oung lad" came to London, then, and "ou renewed "our ac!uaintance.+ +,es, her father brought her over for this last London season.

$ met her several times, became engaged to her, and have now married her.+ +She brought. $ understand. a considerable dowr".+ +A fair dowr". Not more than is usual in m" famil".+ +And this, of course, remains to "ou, since the marriage is a fait accom li.+ +$ reall" have made no in!uiries on the subject.+ +7er" naturall" not. 2id "ou see 0iss 2oran on the da" before the wedding.+ +,es.+ +)as she in good s irits.+ +Never better. She %e t tal%ing of what we should do in our future lives.+ +$ndeed8 That is ver" interesting. And on the morning of the wedding.+ +She was as bright as ossible ## at least until after the ceremon".+ +And did "ou observe an" change in her then.+ +)ell, to tell the truth, $ saw then the first signs that $ had ever seen that her tem er was just a little shar . The incident however, was too trivial to relate and can have no ossible bearing u on the case.+ +>ra" let us have it, for all that.+ +-h, it is childish. She dro ed her bou!uet as we went towards the vestr". She was assing the front ew at the time, and it fell over into the ew. There was a moment*s dela", but the gentleman in the ew handed it u to her again, and it did not a ear to be the worse for the fall. ,et when $ s o%e to her of the matter, she answered me abru tl"A and in the carriage, on our wa" home, she seemed absurdl" agitated over this trifling cause.+ +$ndeed8 ,ou sa" that there was a gentleman in the ew. Some of the general ublic were resent, then.+ +-h, "es. $t is im ossible to exclude them when the church is o en.+ +This gentleman was not one of "our wife*s friends.+ +No, noA $ call him a gentleman b" courtes", but he was !uite a common#loo%ing erson. $ hardl" noticed his a earance. But reall" $ thin% that we are wandering rather far from the oint.+ +Lad" St. Simon, then, returned from the wedding in a less cheerful frame of mind than she had gone to it. )hat did she do on reentering her father*s house.+ +$ saw her in conversation with her maid.+ +And who is her maid.+ +Alice is her name. She is an American and came from 4alifornia with her.+ +A confidential servant.+

+A little too much so. $t seemed to me that her mistress allowed her to ta%e great liberties. Still, of course, in America the" loo% u on these things in a different wa".+ +&ow long did she s ea% to this Alice.+ +-h, a few minutes. $ had something else to thin% of.+ +,ou did not overhear what the" said.+ +Lad" St. Simon said something about *jum ing a claim.* She was accustomed to use slang of the %ind. $ have no idea what she meant.+ +American slang is ver" ex ressive sometimes. And what did "our wife do when she finished s ea%ing to her maid.+ +She wal%ed into the brea%fast#room.+ +-n "our arm.+ +No, alone. She was ver" inde endent in little matters li%e that. Then, after we had sat down for ten minutes or so, she rose hurriedl", muttered some words of a olog", and left the room. She never came bac%.+ +But this maid, Alice, as $ understand, de oses that she went to her room, covered her bride*s dress with a long ulster, ut on a bonnet, and went out.+ +Duite so. And she was afterwards seen wal%ing into &"de >ar% in com an" with Flora 0illar, a woman who is now in custod", and who had alread" made a disturbance at 0r. 2oran*s house that morning.+ +Ah, "es. $ should li%e a few articulars as to this "oung lad", and "our relations to her.+ Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders and raised his e"ebrows. +)e have been on a friendl" footing for some "ears ## $ ma" sa" on a ver" friendl" footing. She used to be at the Allegro. $ have not treated her ungenerousl", and she had no just cause of com laint against me, but "ou %now what women are, 0r. &olmes. Flora was a dear little thing, but exceedingl" hot#headed and devotedl" attached to me. She wrote me dreadful letters when she heard that $ was about to be married, and, to tell the truth, the reason wh" $ had the marriage celebrated so !uietl" was that $ feared lest there might be a scandal in the church. She came to 0r. 2oran*s door just after we returned, and she endeavoured to ush her wa" in, uttering ver" abusive ex ressions towards m" wife, and even threatening her, but $ had foreseen the ossibilit" of something of the sort, and $ had two olice fellows there in rivate clothes, who soon ushed her out again. She was !uiet when she saw that there was no good in ma%ing a row.+ +2id "our wife hear all this.+ +No, than% goodness, she did not.+ +And she was seen wal%ing with this ver" woman afterwards.+

+,es. That is what 0r. Lestrade, of Scotland ,ard, loo%s u on as so serious. $t is thought that Flora deco"ed m" wife out and laid some terrible tra for her.+ +)ell, it is a ossible su osition.+ +,ou thin% so, too.+ +l did not sa" a robable one. But "ou do not "ourself loo% u on this as li%el".+ +$ do not thin% Flora would hurt a fl".+ +Still, jealous" is a strange transformer of characters. >ra" what is "our own theor" as to what too% lace.+ +)ell, reall", $ came to see% a theor", not to ro ound one. $ have given "ou all the facts. Since "ou as% me, however, $ ma" sa" that it has occurred to me as ossible that the excitement of this affair, the consciousness that she had made so immense a social stride, had the effect of causing some little nervous disturbance in m" wife.+ +$n short, that she had become suddenl" deranged.+ +)ell, reall", when $ consider that she has turned her bac% ## $ will not sa" u on me, but u on so much that man" have as ired to without success ## $ can hardl" ex lain it in an" other fashion.+ +)ell, certainl" that is also a conceivable h" othesis,+ said &olmes, smiling. +And now, Lord St. Simon, $ thin% that $ have nearl" all m" data. 0a" $ as% whether "ou were seated at the brea%fast#table so that "ou could see out of the window.+ +)e could see the other side of the road and the >ar%.+ +Duite so. Then $ do not thin% that $ need to detain "ou longer. $ shall communicate with "ou.+ +Should "ou be fortunate enough to solve this roblem,+ said our client, rising. +$ have solved it.+ +/h. )hat was that.+ +$ sa" that $ have solved it.+ +)here, then, is m" wife.+ +That is a detail which $ shall s eedil" su l".+ Lord St. Simon shoo% his head. +$ am afraid that it will ta%e wiser heads than "ours or mine,+ he remar%ed, and bowing in a statel", old#fashioned manner he de arted. +$t is ver" good of Lord St. Simon to honour m" head b" utting it on a level with his own,+ said Sherloc% &olmes, laughing. +$ thin% that $ shall have a whis%" and soda and a cigar after all this cross#!uestioning. $ had formed m" conclusions as to the case before our client came into the room.+ +0" dear &olmes8+ +$ have notes of several similar cases, though none, as $ remar%ed before, which were !uite as rom t. 0" whole examination served to turn m" conjecture into a certaint". 4ircumstantial

evidence is occasionall" ver" convincing, as when "ou find a trout in the mil%, to !uote Thoreau*s exam le.+ +But $ have heard all that "ou have heard.+ +)ithout, however, the %nowledge of reexisting cases which serves me so well. There was a arallel instance in Aberdeen some "ears bac%, and something on ver" much the same lines at 0unich the "ear after the Franco#>russian )ar. $t is one of these cases ## but, hello, here is Lestrade8 6ood#afternoon, Lestrade8 ,ou will find an extra tumbler u on the sideboard, and there are cigars in the box.+ The official detective was attired in a eajac%et and cravat, which gave him a decidedl" nautical a earance, and he carried a blac% canvas bag in his hand. )ith a short greeting he seated himself and lit the cigar which had been offered to him. +)hat*s u , then.+ as%ed &olmes with a twin%le in his e"e. +,ou loo% dissatisfied.+ +And $ feel dissatisfied. $t is this infernal St. Simon marriage case. $ can ma%e neither head nor tail of the business.+ +3eall"8 ,ou sur rise me.+ +)ho ever heard of such a mixed affair. /ver" clue seems to sli through m" fingers. $ have been at wor% u on it all da".+ +And ver" wet it seems to have made "ou,+ said &olmes la"ing his hand u on the arm of the eajac%et. +,es, $ have been dragging the Ser entine.+ +$n heaven*s name, what for.+ +$n search of the bod" of Lad" St. Simon.+ Sherloc% &olmes leaned bac% in his chair and laughed heartil". +&ave "ou dragged the basin of Trafalgar S!uare fountain.+ he as%ed. +)h". )hat do "ou mean.+ +Because "ou have just as good a chance of finding this lad" in the one as in the other.+ Lestrade shot an angr" glance at m" com anion. +$ su ose "ou %now all about it,+ he snarled. +)ell, $ have onl" just heard the facts, but m" mind is made u .+ +-h, indeed8 Then "ou thin% that the Ser entine la"s no art in the matter.+ +$ thin% it ver" unli%el".+ +Then erha s "ou will %indl" ex lain how it is that we found this in it.+ &e o ened his bag as he s o%e, and tumbled onto the floor a wedding#dress of watered sil%, a air of white satin shoes and a bride*s wreath and veil, all discoloured and soa%ed in water. +There,+ said he, utting a new wedding#ring u on the to of the ile. +There is a little nut for "ou to crac%, 0aster &olmes.+

+-h, indeed8+ said m" friend, blowing blue rings into the air. +,ou dragged them from the Ser entine.+ +No. The" were found floating near the margin b" a ar%#%ee er. The" have been identified as her clothes, and it seemed to me that if the clothes were there the bod" would not be far off.+ +B" the same brilliant reasoning, ever" man*s bod" is to be found in the neighbourhood of his wardrobe. And ra" what did "ou ho e to arrive at through this.+ +At some evidence im licating Flora 0illar in the disa earance.+ +$ am afraid that "ou will find it difficult.+ +Are "ou, indeed, now.+ cried Lestrade with some bitter# ness. +$ am afraid, &olmes, that "ou are not ver" ractical with "our deductions and "our inferences. ,ou have made two blun#ders in as man" minutes. This dress does im licate 0iss Flora 0illar.+ +And how.+ +$n the dress is a oc%et. $n the oc%et is a card#case. $n the card#case is a note. And here is the ver" note.+ &e sla ed it down u on the table in front of him. +Listen to this1 +,ou will see me when all is read". 4ome at once. +F. &. 0. Now m" theor" all along has been that Lad" St. Simon was deco"ed awa" b" Flora 0illar, and that she, with confederates, no doubt, was res onsible for her disa earance. &ere, signed with her initials, is the ver" note which was no doubt !uietl" sli ed into her hand at the door and which lured her within their reach.+ +7er" good, Lestrade,+ said &olmes, laughing. +,ou reall" are ver" fine indeed. Let me see it.+ &e too% u the a er in a listless wa", but his attention instantl" became riveted, and he gave a little cr" of satisfaction. +This is indeed im ortant,+ said he. +&a8 "ou find it so.+ +/xtremel" so. $ congratulate "ou warml".+ Lestrade rose in his trium h and bent his head to loo%. +)h",+ he shrie%ed, +"ou*re loo%ing at the wrong side8+ +-n the contrar", this is the right side.+ +The right side. ,ou*re mad8 &ere is the note written in encil over here.+ +And over here is what a ears to be the fragment of a hotel bill, which interests me dee l".+ +There*s nothing in it. $ loo%ed at it before,+ said Lestrade.

+-ct. ;th, rooms :s., brea%fast Es. <d., coc%tail 9s., lunch Es. <d., glass sherr", :d. $ see nothing in that.+ +7er" li%el" not. $t is most im ortant, all the same. As to the note, it is im ortant also, or at least the initials are, so $ congratulate "ou again.+ +$*ve wasted time enough,+ said Lestrade, rising. +$ believe in hard wor% and not in sitting b" the fire s inning fine theories. 6ood#da", 0r. &olmes, and we shall see which gets to the bottom of the matter first.+ &e gathered u the garments, thrust them into the bag, and made for the door. +'ust one hint to "ou, Lestrade,+ drawled &olmes before his rival vanishedA +$ will tell "ou the true solution of the matter. Lad" St. Simon is a m"th. There is not, and there never has been, an" such erson.+ Lestrade loo%ed sadl" at m" com anion. Then he turned to me, ta ed his forehead three times, shoo% his head solemnl", and hurried awa". &e had hardl" shut the door behind him when &olmes rose to ut on his overcoat. +There is something in what the fellow sa"s about outdoor wor%,+ he remar%ed, +so l thin%, )atson, that $ must leave "ou to "our a ers for a little.+ $t was after five o*cloc% when Sherloc% &olmes left me, but $ had no time to be lonel", for within an hour there arrived a confectioner*s man with a ver" large flat box. This he un ac%ed with the hel of a "outh whom he had brought with him, and resentl", to m" ver" great astonishment, a !uite e icurean little cold su er began to be laid out u on our humble lodging#house mahogan". There were a cou le of brace of cold woodcoc%, a heasant, a ate de foie gras ie with a grou of ancient and cobwebb" bottles. &aving laid out all these luxuries, m" two visitors vanished awa", li%e the genie of the Arabian Nights, with no ex lanation save that the things had been aid for and were ordered to this address. 'ust before nine o*cloc% Sherloc% &olmes ste ed bris%l" into the room. &is features were gravel" set, but there was a light in his e"e which made me thin% that he had not been disa ointed in his conclusions. +The" have laid the su er, then,+ he said, rubbing his hands. +,ou seem to ex ect com an". The" have laid for five.+ +,es, $ fanc" we ma" have some com an" dro ing in,+ said he. +$ am sur rised that Lord St. Simon has not alread" arrived. &a8 $ fanc" that $ hear his ste now u on the stairs.+ $t was indeed our visitor of the afternoon who came bustling

in, dangling his glasses more vigorousl" than ever, and with a ver" erturbed ex ression u on his aristocratic features. +0" messenger reached "ou, then.+ as%ed &olmes. +,es, and $ confess that the contents startled me be"ond measure. &ave "ou good authorit" for what "ou sa".+ +The best ossible.+ Lord St. Simon san% into a chair and assed his hand over his forehead. +)hat will the 2u%e sa",+ he murmured, +when he hears that one of the famil" has been subjected to such humiliation.+ +$t is the urest accident. $ cannot allow that there is an" humiliation. + +Ah, "ou loo% on these things from another stand oint.+ +$ fail to see that an"one is to blame. $ can hardl" see how the lad" could have acted otherwise, though her abru t method of doing it was undoubtedl" to be regretted. &aving no mother, she had no one to advise her at such a crisis.+ +$t was a slight, sir, a ublic slight,+ said Lord St. Simon, ta ing his fingers u on the table. +,ou must ma%e allowance for this oor girl, laced in so un recedented a osition.+ +$ will ma%e no allowance. $ am ver" angr" indeed, and $ have been shamefull" used.+ +$ thin% that $ heard a ring,+ said &olmes. +,es, there are ste s on the landing. $f $ cannot ersuade "ou to ta%e a lenient view of the matter, Lord St. Simon, $ have brought an advocate here who ma" be more successful.+ &e o ened the door and ushered in a lad" and gentleman. +Lord St. Simon,+ said he +allow me to introduce "ou to 0r. and 0rs. Francis &a" 0oulton. The lad", $ thin%, "ou have alread" met.+ At the sight of these newcomers our client had s rung from his seat and stood ver" erect, with his e"es cast down and his hand thrust into the breast of his froc%#coat, a icture of offended dignit". The lad" had ta%en a !uic% ste forward and had held out her hand to him, but he still refused to raise his e"es. $t was as well for his resolution, erha s, for her leading face was one which it was hard to resist. +,ou*re angr", 3obert,+ said she. +)ell, $ guess "ou have ever" cause to be.+ +>ra" ma%e no a olog" to me,+ said Lord St. Simon bitterl". +-h, "es, $ %now that $ have treated "ou real bad and that $ should have s o%en to "ou before $ wentA but $ was %ind of rattled, and from the time when $ saw Fran% here again $ just didn*t %now what $ was doing or sa"ing. $ onl" wonder $ didn*t fall down and do a faint right there before the altar.+ +>erha s, 0rs. 0oulton, "ou would li%e m" friend and me to

leave the room while "ou ex lain this matter.+ +$f $ ma" give an o inion,+ remar%ed the strange gentleman, +we*ve had just a little too much secrec" over this business alread". For m" art, $ should li%e all /uro e and America to hear the rights of it.+ &e was a small, wir", sunburnt man, clean#shaven, with a shar face and alert manner. +Then $*ll tell our stor" right awa",+ said the lad". +Fran% here and $ met in *:;, in 0cDuire*s cam , near the 3oc%ies, where a was wor%ing a claim. )e were engaged to each other, Fran% and $A but then one da" father struc% a rich oc%et and made a ile, while oor Fran% here had a claim that etered out and came to nothing. The richer a grew the oorer was Fran%A so at last a wouldn*t hear of our engagement lasting an" longer, and he too% me awa" to *Frisco. Fran% wouldn*t throw u his hand, thoughA so he followed me there, and he saw me without a %nowing an"thing about it. $t would onl" have made him mad to %now, so we just fixed it all u for ourselves. Fran% said that he would go and ma%e his ile, too, and never come bac% to claim me until he had as much as a. So then $ romised to wait for him to the end of time and ledged m"self not to marr" an"one else while he lived. *)h" shouldn*t we be married right awa", then,* said he, *and then $ will feel sure of "ouA and $ won*t claim to be "our husband until $ come bac%.* )ell, we tal%ed it over, and he had fixed it all u so nicel", with a clerg"man all read" in waiting, that we just did it right thereA and then Fran% went off to see% his fortune, and $ went bac% to a. +The next $ heard of Fran% was that he was in 0ontana, and then he went ros ecting in Ari(ona, and then $ heard of him from New 0exico. After that came a long news a er stor" about how a miners* cam had been attac%ed b" A ache $ndians, and there was m" Fran%*s name among the %illed. $ fainted dead awa", and $ was ver" sic% for months after. >a thought $ had a decline and too% me to half the doctors in *Frisco. Not a word of news came for a "ear and more, so that $ never doubted that Fran% was reall" dead. Then Lord St. Simon came to *Frisco, and we came to London, and a marriage was arranged, and a was ver" leased, but $ felt all the time that no man on this earth would ever ta%e the lace in m" heart that had been given to m" oor Fran%. +Still, if $ had married Lord St. Simon, of course $*d have done m" dut" b" him. )e can*t command our love, but we can our actions. $ went to the altar with him with the intention to ma%e him just as good a wife as it was in me to be. But "ou ma" imagine what $ felt when, just as $ came to the altar rails, $ glanced bac% and saw Fran% standing and loo%ing at me out of the first ew. $ thought it was his ghost at firstA but when $

loo%ed again there he was still, with a %ind of !uestion in his e"es, as if to as% me whether $ were glad or sorr" to see him. $ wonder $ didn*t dro . $ %now that ever"thing was turning round, and the words of the clerg"man were just li%e the bu(( of a bee in m" ear. $ didn*t %now what to do. Should $ sto the service and ma%e a scene in the church. $ glanced at him again, and he seemed to %now what $ was thin%ing, for he raised his finger to his li s to tell me to be still. Then $ saw him scribble on a iece of a er, and $ %new that he was writing me a note. As $ assed his ew on the wa" out $ dro ed m" bou!uet over to him, and he sli ed the note into m" hand when he returned me the flowers. $t was onl" a line as%ing me to join him when he made the sign to me to do so. -f course $ never doubted for a moment that m" first dut" was now to him, and $ determined to do just whatever he might direct. +)hen $ got bac% $ told m" maid, who had %nown him in 4alifornia, and had alwa"s been his friend. $ ordered her to sa" nothing, but to get a few things ac%ed and m" ulster read". $ %now $ ought to have s o%en to Lord St. Simon, but it was dreadful hard before his mother and all those great eo le. $ just made u m" mind to run awa" and ex lain afterwards. $ hadn*t been at the table ten minutes before $ saw Fran% out of the window at the other side of the road. &e bec%oned to me and then began wal%ing into the >ar%. $ sli ed out, ut on m" things, and followed him. Some woman came tal%ing something or other about Lord St. Simon to me ## seemed to me from the little $ heard as if he had a little secret of his own before marriage also ## but $ managed to get awa" from her and soon overtoo% Fran%. )e got into a cab together, and awa" we drove to some lodgings he had ta%en in 6ordon S!uare, and that was m" true wedding after all those "ears of waiting. Fran% had been a risoner among the A aches, had esca ed, came on to *Frisco, found that $ had given him u for dead and had gone to /ngland, followed me there, and had come u on me at last on the ver" morning of m" second wedding.+ +$ saw it in a a er,+ ex lained the American. +$t gave the name and the church but not where the lad" lived.+ +Then we had a tal% as to what we should do, and Fran% was all for o enness, but $ was so ashamed of it all that $ felt as if $ should li%e to vanish awa" and never see an" of them again ## just sending a line to a, erha s, to show him that $ was alive. $t was awful to me to thin% of all those lords and ladies sitting round that brea%fast#table and waiting for me to come bac%. So Fran% too% m" wedding#clothes and things and made a bundle of them, so that $ should not be traced, and dro ed them awa" somewhere where no one could find them. $t is li%el" that we

should have gone on to >aris to#morrow, onl" that this good gentleman, 0r. &olmes, came round to us this evening, though how he found us is more than $ can thin%, and he showed us ver" clearl" and %indl" that $ was wrong and that Fran% was right, and that we should be utting ourselves in the wrong if we were so secret. Then he offered to give us a chance of tal%ing to Lord St. Simon alone, and so we came right awa" round to his rooms at once. Now, 3obert, "ou have heard it all, and $ am ver" sorr" if $ have given "ou ain, and $ ho e that "ou do not thin% ver" meanl" of me.+ Lord St. Simon had b" no means relaxed his rigid attitude, but had listened with a frowning brow and a com ressed li to this long narrative. +/xcuse me,+ he said, +but it is not m" custom to discuss m" most intimate ersonal affairs in this ublic manner.+ +Then "ou won*t forgive me. ,ou won*t sha%e hands before $ go.+ +-h, certainl", if it would give "ou an" leasure.+ &e ut out his hand and coldl" gras ed that which she extended to him. +$ had ho ed,+ suggested &olmes, +that "ou would have joined us in a friendl" su er.+ +$ thin% that there "ou as% a little too much,+ res onded his Lordshi . +$ ma" be forced to ac!uiesce in these recent develo ments, but $ can hardl" be ex ected to ma%e merr" over them. $ thin% that with "our ermission $ will now wish "ou all a ver" good#night.+ &e included us all in a swee ing bow and stal%ed out of the room. +Then $ trust that "ou at least will honour me with "our com an",+ said Sherloc% &olmes. +$t is alwa"s a jo" to meet an American, 0r. 0oulton, for $ am one of those who believe that the foll" of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far#gone "ears will not revent our children from being some da" citi(ens of the same world#wide countr" under a flag which shall be a !uartering of the =nion 'ac% with the Stars and Stri es.+ +The case has been an interesting one,+ remar%ed &olmes when our visitors had left us, +because it serves to show ver" clearl" how sim le the ex lanation ma" be of an affair which at first sight seems to be almost inex licable. Nothing could be more natural than the se!uence of events as narrated b" this lad", and nothing stranger than the result when viewed, for instance b" 0r. Lestrade, of Scotland ,ard.+ +,ou were not "ourself at fault at all, then.+ +From the first, two facts were ver" obvious to me, the one that the lad" had been !uite willing to undergo the wedding ceremon", the other that she had re ented of it within a few

minutes of returning home. -bviousl" something had occurred during the morning, then, to cause her to change her mind. )hat could that something be. She could not have s o%en to an"one when she was out, for she had been in the com an" of the bridegroom. &ad she seen someone, then. $f she had, it must be someone from America because she had s ent so short a time in this countr" that she could hardl" have allowed an"one to ac!uire so dee an influence over her that the mere sight of him would induce her to change her lans so com letel". ,ou see we have alread" arrived, b" a rocess of exclusion, at the idea that she might have seen an American. Then who could this American be, and wh" should he ossess so much influence over her. $t might be a loverA it might be a husband. &er "oung womanhood had, $ %new, been s ent in rough scenes and under strange conditions. So far $ had got before $ ever heard Lord St. Simon*s narrative. )hen he told us of a man in a ew, of the change in the bride*s manner, of so trans arent a device for obtaining a note as the dro ing of a bou!uet, of her resort to her confidential maid, and of her ver" significant allusion to claimjum ing ## which in miners* arlance means ta%ing ossession of that which another erson has a rior claim to ## the whole situation became absolutel" clear. She had gone off with a man, and the man was either a lover or was a revious husband ## the chances being in favour of the latter.+ +And how in the world did "ou find them.+ +$t might have been difficult, but friend Lestrade held information in his hands the value of which he did not himself %now. The initials were, of course, of the highest im ortance, but more valuable still was it to %now that within a wee% he had settled his bill at one of the most select London hotels.+ +&ow did "ou deduce the select.+ +B" the select rices. /ight shillings for a bed and eight ence for a glass of sherr" ointed to one of the most ex ensive hotels. There are not man" in London which charge at that rate. $n the second one which $ visited in Northumberland Avenue, $ learned b" an ins ection of the boo% that Francis &. 0oulton, an American gentleman, had left onl" the da" before, and on loo%ing over the entries against him, $ came u on the ver" items which $ had seen in the du licate bill. &is letters were to be forwarded to EE< 6ordon S!uareA so thither $ travelled, and being fortunate enough to find the loving cou le at home, l ventured to give them some aternal advice and to oint out to them that it would be better in ever" wa" that the" should ma%e their osition a little clearer both to the general ublic and to Lord St. Simon in articular. $ invited them to meet him here, and, as "ou see, $ made him %ee the a ointment.+

+But with no ver" good result,+ $ remar%ed. +&is conduct was certainl" not ver" gracious.+ +Ah, )atson,+ said &olmes, smiling, + erha s "ou would not be ver" gracious either, if, after all the trouble of wooing and wedding, "ou found "ourself de rived in an instant of wife and of fortune. $ thin% that we ma" judge Lord St. Simon ver" mercifull" and than% our stars that we are never li%el" to find ourselves in the same osition. 2raw "our chair u and hand me m" violin, for the onl" roblem we have still to solve is how to while awa" these blea% autumnal evenings.+ ?F/ndF@