The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page 7 of 10
"You'll never persuade me to believe that."
"Will you bet, then?"
"It's merely taking your money, for I know that I am right.
But I'll have a sovereign on with you, just to teach you not to be
The salesman chuckled grimly. "Bring me the books, Bill,"
The small boy brought round a small thin volume and a great
greasy-backed one, laying them out together beneath the hanging
"Now then, Mr. Cocksure," said the salesman, "I thought
that I was out of geese, but before I finish you'll find that there
is still one left in my shop. You see this little book?"
"That's the list of the folk from whom I buy. D'you see?
Well, then, here on this page are the country folk, and the
numbers after their names are where their accounts are in the big
ledger. Now, then! You see this other page in red ink? Well, that
is a list of my town suppliers. Now, look at that third name. Just
read it out to me."
"Mrs. Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road -- 249," read Holmes.
"Quite so. Now turn that up in the ledger."
Holmes turned to the page indicated. "Here you are, 'Mrs.
Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road, egg and poultry supplier."
"Now, then, what's the last entry?"
" 'December 22d. Twenty-four geese at 7s. 6d.' "
"Quite so. There you are. And underneath?"
" 'Sold to Mr. Windigate of the Alpha, at 12s.' "
"What have you to say now?"
Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined. He drew a sovereign from his pocket and threw it down upon the slab, turning
away with the air of a man whose disgust is too deep for words.
A few yards off he stopped under a lamp-post and laughed in the
hearty, noiseless fashion which was peculiar to him.
"When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the
'Pink 'un' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him
by a bet," said he. "I daresay that if I had put lOO pounds down in
front of him, that man would not have given me such complete
information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was
doing me on a wager. Well, Watson, we are, I fancy, nearing
the end of our quest, and the only point which remains to be
determined is whether we should go on to this Mrs. Oakshott
to-night, or whether we should reserve it for to-morrow. It is
clear from what that surly fellow said that there are others
besides ourselves who are anxious about the matter, and I
His remarks were suddenly cut short by a loud hubbub which
broke out from the stall which we had just left. Turning round
we saw a little rat-faced fellow standing in the centre of the
circle of yellow light which was thrown by the swinging lamp,
while Breckinridge, the salesman, framed in the door of his stall,
was shaking his fists fiercely at the cringing figure.
"I've had enough of you and your geese," he shouted. "I
wish you were all at the devil together. If you come pestering me
any more with your silly talk I'll set the dog at you. You bring
Mrs. Oakshott here and I'll answer her, but what have you to do
with it? Did I buy the geese off you?"
"No; but one of them was mine all the same," whined the
"Well, then, ask Mrs. Oakshott for it."
"She told me to ask you."
"Well, you can ask the King of Proosia, for all I care. I've
had enough of it. Get out of this!" He rushed fiercely forward,
and the inquirer flitted away into the darkness.
"Ha! this may save us a visit to Brixton Road," whispered
Holmes. "Come with me, and we will see what is to be made of
this fellow." Striding through the scattered knots of people who
lounged round the flaring stalls, my companion speedily overtook the little man and touched him upon the shoulder. He
sprang round, and I could see in the gas-light that every vestige
of colour had been driven from his face.
"Who are you, then? What do you want?" he asked in a