even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced
to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life and
to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which
shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like
untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew
higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in
the chimney. Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the
fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the
other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories until
the howl of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text,
and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of
the sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother's, and for a
few days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker
"Why," said I, glancing up at my companion, "that was surely the
bell. Who could come to-night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?"
"Except yourself I have none," he answered. "I do not encourage
"A client, then?"
"If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out
on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more
likely to be some crony of the landlady's."
Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there
came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. He
stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and
towards the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit.
"Come in!" said he.
The man who entered was young, some two-and-twenty at the
outside, well-groomed and trimly clad, with something of
refinement and delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella
which he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told
of the fierce weather through which he had come. He looked about
him anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his