The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page 6 of 10
"Ah! yes, I see. But you see, sir, them's not our geese."
"Indeed! Whose, then?"
"Well, I got the two dozen from a salesman in Covent Garden."
"Indeed? I know some of them. Which was it?"
"Breckinridge is his name."
"Ah! I don't know him. Well, here's your good health
landlord, and prosperity to your house. Good-night.
"Now for Mr. Breckinridge," he continued, buttoning up his
coat as we came out into the frosty air. "Remember, Watson
that though we have so homely a thing as a goose at one end of
this chain, we have at the other a man who will certainly get
seven years' penal servitude unless we can establish his innocence. It is possible that our inquiry may but confirm his guilt
but, in any case, we have a line of investigation which has been
missed by the police, and which a singular chance has placed in
our hands. Let us follow it out to the bitter end. Faces to the
south, then, and quick march!"
We passed across Holborn, down Endell Street, and so through
a zigzag of slums to Covent Garden Market. One of the largest
stalls bore the name of Breckinridge upon it, and the proprietor
a horsy-looking man, with a sharp face and trim side-whiskers
was helping a boy to put up the shutters.
"Good-evening. It's a cold night," said Holmes.
The salesman nodded and shot a questioning glance at my
"Sold out of geese, I see," continued Holmes, pointing at the
bare slabs of marble.
"Let you have five hundred to-morrow morning."
"That's no good."
"Well, there are some on the stall with the gas-flare."
"Ah, but I was recommended to you."
"The landlord of the Alpha."
"Oh, yes; I sent him a couple of dozen."
"Fine birds they were, too. Now where did you get them
To my surprise the question provoked a burst of anger from
"Now, then, mister," said he, with his head cocked and his
arms akimbo, "what are you driving at? Let's have it straight,
"It is straight enough. I should like to know who sold you the
geese which you supplied to the Alpha."
"Well then, I shan't tell you. So now!"
"Oh, it is a matter of no importance; but I don't know why
you should be so warm over such a trifle."
"Warm! You'd be as warm, maybe, if you were as pestered
as I am. When I pay good money for a good article there should
be an end of the business; but it's 'Where are the geese?' and
'Who did you sell the geese to?' and 'What will you take for the
geese?' One would think they were the only geese in the world,
to hear the fuss that is made over them."
"Well, I have no connection with any other people who have
been making inquiries," said Holmes carelessly. "If you won't
tell us the bet is off, that is all. But I'm always ready to back my
opinion on a matter of fowls, and I have a fiver on it that the bird
I ate is country bred."
"Well, then, you've lost your fiver, for it's town bred,"
snapped the salesman.
"It's nothing of the kind."
"I say it is."
"I don't believe it."
"D'you think you know more about fowls than I, who have
handled them ever since I was a nipper? I tell you, all those birds
that went to the Alpha were town bred."