The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page 5 of 10
"Mr. Henry Baker, I believe," said he, rising from his armchair
and greeting his visitor with the easy air of geniality which he
could so readily assume. "Pray take this chair by the fire, Mr.
Baker. It is a cold night, and I observe that your circulation is
more adapted for summer than for winter. Ah, Watson, you have
just come at the right time. Is that your hat, Mr. Baker?"
"Yes, sir, that is undoubtedly my hat."
He was a large man with rounded shoulders, a massive head,
and a broad, intelligent face, sloping down to a pointed beard of
grizzled brown. A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight
tremor of his extended hand, recalled Holmes's surmise as to his
habits. His rusty black frock-coat was buttoned right up in front,
with the collar turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his
sleeves without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in a slow
staccato fashion, choosing his words with care, and gave the
impression generally of a man of learning and letters who had
had ill-usage at the hands of fortune.
"We have retained these things for some days," said Holmes,
"because we expected to see an advertisement from you giving
your address. I am at a loss to know now why you did not
Our visitor gave a rather shamefaced laugh. "Shillings have
not been so plentiful with me as they once were," he remarked.
"I had no doubt that the gang of roughs who assaulted me had
carried off both my hat and the bird. I did not care to spend more
money in a hopeless attempt at recovering them."
"Very naturally. By the way, about the bird, we were compelled to eat it."
"To eat it!" Our visitor half rose from his chair in his
"Yes, it would have been of no use to anyone had we not
done so. But I presume that this other goose upon the sideboard,
which is about the same weight and perfectly fresh, will answer
your purpose equally well?"
"Oh, certainly, certainly," answered Mr. Baker with a sigh of
"Of course, we still have the feathers, legs, crop, and so on of
your own bird, so if you wish --"
The man burst into a hearty laugh. "They might be useful to
me as relics of my adventure," said he, "but beyond that I can
hardly see what use the disjecta membra of my late acquaintance
are going to be to me. No, sir, I think that, with your permission, I will confine my attentions to the excellent bird which I
perceive upon the sideboard."
Sherlock Holmes glanced sharply across at me with a slight
shrug of his shoulders.
"There is your hat, then, and there your bird," said he. "By
the way, would it bore you to tell me where you got the other
one from? I am somewhat of a fowl fancier, and I have seldom
seen a better grown goose."
"Certainly, sir," said Baker, who had risen and tucked his
newly gained property under his arm. "There are a few of us
who frequent the Alpha Inn, near the Museum -- we are to be
found in the Museum itself during the day, you understand. This
year our good host, Windigate by name, instituted a goose club,
by which, on consideration of some few pence every week, we
were each to receive a bird at Christmas. My pence were duly
paid, and the rest is familiar to you. I am much indebted to you,
sir, for a Scotch bonnet is fitted neither to my years nor my
gravity." With a comical pomposity of manner he bowed solemnly to both of us and strode off upon his way.
"So much for Mr. Henry Baker," said Holmes when he had
closed the door behind him. "It is quite certain that he knows
nothing whatever about the matter. Are you hungry, Watson?"
"Then I suggest that we turn our dinner into a supper and
follow up this clue while it is still hot."
"By all means."
It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ulsters and wrapped
cravats about our throats. Outside, the stars were shining coldly
in a cloudless sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into
smoke like so many pistol shots. Our footfalls rang out crisply
and loudly as we swung through the doctors' quarter, Wimpole
Street, Harley Street, and so through Wigmore Street into Oxford Street. In a quarter of an hour we were in Bloomsbury at the
Alpha Inn, which is a small public-house at the corner of one of
the streets which runs down into Holborn. Holmes pushed open
the door of the private bar and ordered two glasses of beer from
the ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord.
"Your beer should be excellent if it is as good as your
geese," said he.
"My geese!" The man seemed surprised.
"Yes. I was speaking only half an hour ago to Mr. Henry
Baker, who was a member of your goose club."