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Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname if that is how he meant it to be understood is uncertain. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather. He then went on to Stonyhurst College, leaving in From to he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. This required that he provide periodic medical assistance in the towns of Aston now a district of Birmingham and Sheffield. While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories.

His first published story appeared in "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal" before he was Following his graduation, he was employed as a ship's doctor on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his doctorate on the subject of tabes dorsalis in She suffered from tuberculosis and died on 4 July Because if she weds, he will have no legal access to Sutherland's inheritance from her uncle New Zealand. His letter to the city proves it: Holmes has written to Windibank's wine importing office with a description of Mr. Hosmer Angel that was provided by Sutherland.

The office has written back confirming that the depiction of Angel corresponds with Windibank's own appearance. The problem is, Windibank hasn't broken any laws. There's nothing Holmes can do to punish him, though he does try to put a bit of the fear of God into the scoundrel. All Holmes can do is promise Watson that a louse like Windibank will eventually commit a crime so bad he'll be hanged for it. Watson gets a telegram one morning, asking him to meet Holmes at the train station for an adventure. Watson's wife says he's been looking a little down in the dumps, and encourages him to go.

So he does. McCarthy has been living as a tenant on the land of his much richer buddy, John Turner. Both of them knew each other back in Australia, where Turner struck it rich. McCarthy has a son, James, and Turner has a daughter. McCarthy was killed by a blow to the back of the head while standing next to Boscombe Pool. Witnesses saw McCarthy walking towards the pool, followed quickly by his son, James; they also saw the two of them fighting violently. James is found near the body of his father with blood on his hands.

To make matters worse for James McCarthy, when the police arrest him on suspicion of murdering his father, James says that he's getting his just desserts. Everyone including Watson thinks this sounds like a confession. Holmes is not so sure. After all, witnesses mention that Charles McCarthy called out "Cooee" to James — but how could he have known that James was behind him?

McCarthy didn't even know that James was in town. Couldn't McCarthy have been expecting someone else at the pool? And if James did kill his dad, why didn't he bother to make up a story explaining their argument? Why remain silent on that point? James's statement does add two new pieces of evidence: his father's last words were something about "a rat," and James noticed a grey cloak on the ground next to his father's body when he ran over to see him. When James looked up, the cloak was gone. Holmes goes to see James. He finds out that James has no idea who killed his father. Inspector Lestrade, the Scotland Yard officer who loves giving Holmes a hard time, is sure that James is guilty.

But Holmes keeps defending James: after all, he notes, "Cooee" is an Australian cry, and McCarthy's last words weren't " a rat " but " Ballarat ," an Australian city name. Doesn't it seem more likely that the last person to see McCarthy before his fatal injury was a fellow Australian? Lestrade sneers and takes his leave. Turner was a robber back in Australia, and McCarthy knew about it.

He had been blackmailing Turner for years.

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The last straw was that McCarthy had been trying to make his son marry Turner's daughter. But Turner will not tolerate McCarthy mixing his blood with Turner's daughter. So he picked up a rock and hit McCarthy over the head. When he heard James coming to the pool, he ran off, dropping his cloak. He managed to grab the cloak without being seen and got away. Turner agrees to sign a confession so that, if James McCarthy is convicted of murder, Holmes can get the young man off. But Turner is dying, and doesn't want to spend his final days in prison for justifiable homicide what with the blackmail and all.

Holmes agrees that Turner's about to meet a higher judge than England can provide. Fortunately, James's case is dismissed due to lack of evidence, James marries Miss Turner, and John Turner takes his secret to the grave seven months later. It's a dark and stormy night and Watson's wife is out of town, so he's sleeping over with Holmes. Their peaceful evening is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a young man, John Openshaw, who's worried about a series of weird events that have happened to his family. We get the whole back-story on John's family:John's father, Joseph Openshaw, is a bicycle factory owner.

Joseph's brother Elias, on the other hand, heads to Florida to start a plantation in the mids. Once the Confederacy loses, even though he's made lots of money in the South, Elias Openshaw flounces off back to England to retire with his fortune. Elias is a real tool and has no friends. But he's taken a liking to his nephew John Openshaw, and so he invites John to live with him.

Elias uses John as a kind of household manager and go-between with everyone else in the world. Elias mostly likes to stay locked up in his room drinking a lot. One day, Elias receives an envelope that says, on the back flap, "K. Inside the envelope are five orange pips.

Elias freaks out , runs to his locked room, and burns a bunch of papers he's been keeping locked up. After getting this envelope, Elias's bad behavior really becomes extreme: he seems alternately terrified and furious. Finally, one night, he gets drunk and winds up dead the next day. It seems that he ran out of the house and drowned in a small pool at the foot of the garden during that drunken spell.

The coroner rules his death a suicide, but John doesn't think it is. Next up, Joseph, Elias's brother, inherits his brother's fortune. What's weird, though, is that Joseph then receives the same envelope, also with the same instructions, initials, and orange pips. And he also winds up dead, from a fall in a rock quarry. The coroner decides it's an accident, but, again, John Openshaw's not certain. It's come down to John himself. He, too, has now received the fatal envelope. He has also found one tiny scrap of paper with some names and dates he doesn't understand, still in the fireplace where his uncle burned the papers before drowning.

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Now John wants Holmes's help. Holmes tells Openshaw to go home right away, put the scrap of paper and the envelope on the sundial with a note saying everything else has been burned, and above all not to do anything dumb like confront the murderers. They are known, Holmes tells Watson, for arranging unlikely deaths for people who support, among other things, African-American voting rights. Holmes continues that Elias must have been connected to this group: it can't be a coincidence that he left the States in , the same year the group apparently disbanded.

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But despite Holmes's solution of the case, he's too late: the next morning's newspaper carries news that John Openshaw fell into a river and drowned near the local train station. Holmes knows it's no accident, though. He resolves to get justice by tracking down the postmarks of the three fatal envelopes, all of which lead him to one ship, the "Lone Star," which was in the three origin cities at the right time to send these awful orange pips.

Holmes cables Savannah, Georgia with the news that there are men on the "Lone Star" wanted for murder in the U. The ship sinks on its way across the Atlantic, and Holmes never gets his direct revenge on the murderers of his client. One night, one of Mrs. Watson's friends, a lady named Kate Whitney, turns up at the Watsons' home. She's at her wit's end because her husband Isa, an opium addict, has been away from home for some time. She begs Watson to visit her husband's opium den to fish him out. Even though it's late at night, Watson agrees to head straight over.

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While there, who should he bump into but his good pal Sherlock Holmes, wearing the disguise of an addict. Holmes invites Watson to walk home with him, and explains that he's at the den trying to trace a missing person, one Neville St. This St. Clair lives in a small town called Lee with his wife and two children. He has regular habits that include going into the city at the same time every morning and coming home on the same train at night. He earns good money doing something vague in investments. The Monday before, St. Clair went into town early after promising to get some toy blocks for the kids.

Soon after he leaves, Mrs. Clair decides to go into the city as well, to run an errand. This errand brings her into kind of a bad part of town. As Mrs. Clair is walking down this nasty street, she looks up to see her husband's face looking down at her from a second-story window in fact, from the window of the exact same opium den Holmes has been staking out. She tries to get in to see him, but the owner of the opium den stops her. Clair runs to get some cops, the cops go in, but they don't find anyone on the second floor except this exceptionally ugly beggar, Hugh Boone.

No one buys Mrs. Clair's story that she saw her husband until they find the blocks St. Clair had promised to buy on a table in the den. So they arrest Boone on suspicion of murder. He's well known throughout London as one of the cleverest beggars in the city. He's got blood on his sleeve, but he also has a cut on his finger that, according to Boone, explains this.

He swears he's innocent. The police find St. Clair's coat weighed down with coins in the nearby Thames, but not a trace of his body. Holmes and Watson go to visit Mrs. She greets them happily with the news that she's certain her husband is still alive. How does she know? She's received a letter from him, in his handwriting, with his wedding ring as further proof. Holmes is up all night thinking about this new evidence, but he finally gets it, and feels dumb for not seeing it sooner.

Watson is like — what? Holmes asks him to come for a morning drive into the city. Holmes and Watson arrive at the police station and ask to see Boone. He's fast asleep. Holmes pulls out a large sponge from his bag and suddenly gives Boone a vigorous face wash. Underneath the grease, face paint, fake scar, and wig, the famous beggar Boone turns out to be none other than Neville St. It all becomes clear: St. Clair was once a journalist. He posed as a beggar to research an article once and made the accidental discovery that he could make more money as a beggar than he ever did in regular business.

So all of those regular hours he's been working in the city, he's really been sneaking off to the room he's rented in that opium den to change into his Hugh Boone disguise. When his wife happened to walk by that one afternoon, he was just changing back into his Neville St. Clair clothes. He was too ashamed of being discovered to admit to her or, later, to the police what had actually happened. So he weighed down his coat with coins and tossed it out the window into the river, and then rapidly put his Hugh Boone disguise back on.

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He handed the owner of the opium den that letter for his wife and then waited for the police to arrive. Since he hasn't actually committed a crime, Inspector Bradstreet agrees to let St. Clair go — with the strict promise that they'll see no more of Hugh Boone around. If St. Clair goes back to his old tricks, his secret will become public and his family will be shamed. Clair promises, and that's that! When Watson comes over two days after Christmas to wish Holmes a happy holiday, he finds Holmes contemplating a battered old hat.

This hat has been brought to Holmes by Peterson, a hotel employee they both know. Here's the story behind the hat:Peterson surprises a group of guys harassing some older fellow on the street. Startled, the old guy runs away, dropping his hat and a goose. The goose is labeled "To Mrs. Henry Baker," but there are so many Henry Bakers in London that the note's not much help. Peterson brings both objects to Holmes to trace their ownership.

Holmes gives Peterson the goose but keeps the hat to see what he can reason from it to narrow down which Henry Baker. Holmes figures out that the hat's owner is a smart, well-educated guy who's fallen on hard times and perhaps into drink? Holmes and Watson are chatting over his deductions when Peterson comes running back into to Holmes's place. As his wife was preparing the goose for cooking, she found a blue diamond in the bird's throat.

Holmes identifies it at once as a jewel belonging to the Countess of Morcar, called the Blue Carbuncle, which was recently stolen from the Hotel Cosmopolitan. On the evidence of hotel employee James Ryder, a plumber named John Horner has been arrested, but the jewel still hasn't been found. Holmes puts an ad in the newspaper — Found: goose and black felt hat.

Holmes figures that Henry Baker the name attached to the goose's leg will definitely answer because he's poor and probably really misses his hat. Holmes also asks Peterson to buy Holmes a second goose. Indeed, Baker answers the ad, and he is exactly as Holmes described in the first scene: out of condition, bearing signs of alcohol addiction, but educated. The guy is relieved to get his hat back, but he shows no signs of distress that this second goose is not the original — in other words, he knows nothing about the blue diamond. Baker does put Holmes on the trail of the original goose, though, by telling the detective that he got the goose from the owner of the Alpha Inn.

Holmes uses this information to get to a Covent Garden poultry seller, where he's surprised to find someone else trying to figure out where a certain goose has gotten to. This someone else is James Ryder, the hotel employee who ratted out John Horner, the plumber. But Holmes knows better: he tells Ryder that he's found the jewel in the original goose and he knows Ryder himself is the culprit. Ryder basically disintegrates. He starts crying and carrying on.

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Holmes is disgusted, and demands that the guy pull himself together and tell Holmes how the diamond got into a goose's throat in the first place. Ryder explains: he decided to steal the carbuncle with the help of the Countess's lady's maid, Catherine Cusack. The two set up poor John Horner, and then Ryder made off with the stone. He planed to bring it to a friend of his who's been in prison and who knows how to sell stolen jewelry for gold.

But how should Ryder get the precious gem to his friend without getting caught? Well, Ryder had been staying over with his sister that night. She raises geese, and she had already offered him one. Ryder took a chance by stuffing the gem into the throat of one of the geese and then claiming it for his own. But when he opened the goose up later on, he saw that he's killed the wrong goose in the shuffle. Hence his efforts to try and figure out where his particular goose got to once his sister brought her flock to market. Ryder weeps and begs Holmes not to ruin him, and Holmes tells him to get out.

After all, Holmes tells Watson, 1 Ryder's so scared he'll never do anything wrong again, and 2 it's not Holmes's job to make up for the fact that the police suck. Watson jumps pretty far back in time in this story, to the period before his marriage when he and Holmes were still roomies at B Baker Street. One morning, Holmes wakes Watson early because he has a client he wants Watson to see. She's a lady of about thirty with prematurely white hair who's shaking with terror. The situation is this: The lady's name is Helen Stoner. She has a stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, who is the last representative of a great family that has utterly used up all of its resources.

Helen's mother died eight years ago in a train accident.

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Her will left Roylott a steady income, but it also included provisions for Helen and for her twin sister, Julia, if they ever get married. A marriage of either or both of his stepdaughters would leave Roylott really struggling financially. Personally speaking, Roylott is also a pretty terrible guy: he's extremely violent and temperamental, and he's actually done time in India for beating his Indian butler to death. Apparently, he was lucky to escape a death sentence there. And yet, the Stoner sisters' mother married him. So, anyway, flash to two years ago when Julia, Helen's sister, gets engaged.

She complains to Helen that her sleep is being disturbed by a strange whistling sound in the middle of the night. Helen dismisses this as nothing, but one night two weeks before Julia's wedding, Helen hears a horrible scream. It's Julia in the bedroom next door. Helen runs over to find Julia looking terrified and ill. Julia slips into convulsions, but before she falls unconscious never to awaken , she makes reference to "a speckled band. Now Helen herself has become engaged to a nice young fellow, Percy Armitage.

Her stepfather has started some random construction on the wall outside her bedroom that has made Helen move into her sister's old bedroom next to her stepfather's. And she's pretty freaked out because she, like her sister before her, has begun to hear a low whistle in the middle of the night. Holmes reassures her that he'll do what he can, and offers to come out to their estate that night.

As soon as Stoner leaves Holmes's office, Dr. Grimesby Roylott announces himself. He makes a threaten and says that if Holmes gets involved, he'll be sorry. Holmes doesn't take this warning very seriously. So he and Watson head out to Roylott's estate that afternoon to set up a plan.

Holmes tells Stoner to go to bed early but not to stay in her sister's former bedroom. He and Watson plan to sneak in and spend the night there to find out what's up. Holmes and Watson do in fact manage to sneak into Julia Stoner's old room. It has some weird features: a bell-pull that's not actually attached to a bell, a ventilator that connects Julia's room with Roylott's, and a bed that's nailed to the floor. All of these changes to the house date to about two years ago. At around 3am, Holmes and Watson hear an eerie low whistle. Holmes strikes a match and starts beating the bell pull with his cane.

Suddenly, they hear a yell from the next room. It's Roylott, and he's stone dead. He's been killed by his own trained poisonous snake, which he has been sending into the next room through the ventilator to try to murder his second stepdaughter. It's all about money: Roylott doesn't want Stoner to marry Percy Armitage and take away her part of the inheritance. But he's gotten his just desserts: killed by the snake he's been trying to turn on other people.

Holmes seems totally OK with that. One morning at around 7am, two men come to Watson's house from nearby Paddington train station. One of the two is a guard who knows Watson. He's come to drop off a patient. The other guy is, well, the patient: a young man named Victor Hatherley who appears at some point to have misplaced his thumb. After treating Hatherley, Watson brings him to Holmes so they can get to the bottom of Hatherley's weird adventure. Here's the story: Hatherley's an orphan with no family. He's a hydraulics engineer who set up his own private practice two years ago, but he hasn't been getting any business.

He's desperate for money, so he's really excited when a client comes to him offering a huge sum of money for one night's work. The client is a vaguely creepy fellow named Colonel Lysander Stark, who's happy to pay top dollar for Hatherley's services if he's willing to keep a secret. The secret Hatherley has to keep is that Stark is working on processing a bunch of fuller's earth a kind of clay used in filtering for oils on his land. He has a big press to shape this earth into blocks for transport.

If his neighbors find out, they'll realize they have valuable fuller's earth deposits on their land, too, and they won't sell that land to Stark for cheap. Something's gone wrong with the press, though, so he needs Hatherley to tell him how to fix it. Hatherley's not totally satisfied with this explanation, but he comes out with Stark anyway. They arrive on the last train to a small country station, and Stark confuses Hatherley further by insisting they drive in a carriage with the blinds drawn so Hatherley can't see where they're going.

They reach Colonel Stark's house. Stark leaves Hatherley in a drawing room for a bit. Suddenly, a mysterious German-accented woman bursts in and warns Hatherley to run away. But he really needs that money, and he has his pride, so he won't. The lady darts away and then Stark and his manager, a silent fat man named Mr. Ferguson, both come in to take Hatherley to the press. The instant Hatherley sees the press, he knows that Stark is lying about what he's using it for. Hatherley gives some advice about what Stark can do to fix it, but when Stark notices Hatherley's interest in some metal deposits all around the room, he quickly jumps out of the press apparatus, locks Hatherley in, and starts the machine.

Hatherley is about to get squashed. Luckily, just as things are starting to look really bad for our young engineer, he notices that the walls of the press are actually made of wood. He manages to kick out a loose panel and escape into a new passage in the house. There, he meets the woman who tried to warn him. She leads him to an open window, but they're not fast enough, and Stark appears carrying a cleaver.

Stark warns the woman "Elise" away. Hatherley manages to get out the window, where he's hanging on the sill by his fingertips. Stark hacks at Hatherley's hands with the cleaver, cutting off Hatherley's thumb and sending him dropping to the garden. Hatherley tries to run away, but he faints from the blood loss. He has the vague memory of someone carrying him. When he wakes up the next morning, he's lying next to the train station. He takes the train to London, meets up with a helpful guard, and that's how he wound up at Watson's.

Holmes is very interested in all of this. He, Watson, and Hatherley pick up police reinforcements and head over to the train station near Stark's home. Inspector Bradstreet is very excited: he believes that this is a silver counterfeiting gang that Scotland Yard's been trying to find for ages. That's what Stark and his gang have really been using the press for, hence all of the nickel and tin that Hatherley noticed.

But by the time the group gets to Stark's house, the inspector's dream of a bunch of arrests is ruined. Stark's house has burned to the ground, possibly thanks to the lamp shut in with Hatherley when Stark started the press. It looks like the gang was able to flee, but neither Stark nor Ferguson nor Elise are ever seen again. Holmes suspects that it was Ferguson and Elise who carried Hatherley to the train station out of pity.

Hatherley, for his part, is disappointed: he's lost his money and his thumb, and what has he gained? A good story, replies Holmes. It's , just a few weeks before Watson's marriage. The wet weather has made Watson's old war wound act up a little, so he's mostly been staying inside reading the papers. At one point, Holmes comes in holding an envelope with a nobleman's seal on it. It belongs to Lord St. Simon, son of the Duke of Balmoral and one of the highest aristocrats in England.

Watson gives Holmes the skinny on what the papers have been saying about a scandal surrounding St. Simon: his wife has disappeared.

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Here's the back-story: Hatty Doran is the daughter of an American millionaire. She manages to get through the ceremony tying her to St. But then, at the wedding breakfast after the ceremony, she excuses herself after ten minutes, goes upstairs, grabs a long coat and, apparently, just walks out the side door.