The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page 8 of 10
"You will excuse me," said Holmes blandly, "but I could not
help overhearing the questions which you put to the salesman
just now. I think that I could be of assistance to you."
"You? Who are you? How could you know anything of the
"My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know
what other people don't know."
"But you can know nothing of this?"
"Excuse me, I know everything of it. You are endeavouring
to trace some geese which were sold by Mrs. Oakshott, of
Brixton Road, to a salesman named Breckinridge, by him in turn
to Mr. Windigate, of the Alpha, and by him to his club, of
which Mr. Henry Baker is a member."
"Oh, sir, you are the very man whom I have longed to meet,"
cried the little fellow with outstretched hands and quivering
fingers. "I can hardly explain to you how interested I am in this
Sherlock Holmes hailed a four-wheeler which was passing.
"In that case we had better discuss it in a cosy room rather than
in this wind-swept market-place," said he. "But pray tell me,
before we go farther, who it is that I have the pleasure of
The man hesitated for an instant. "My name is John Robinson," he answered with a sidelong glance.
"No, no; the real name," said Holmes sweetly. "It is always
awkward doing business with an alias."
A flush sprang to the white cheeks of the stranger. "Well
then," said he, "my real name is James Ryder."
"Precisely so. Head attendant at the Hotel Cosmopolitan. Pray
step into the cab, and I shall soon be able to tell you everything
which you would wish to know."
The little man stood glancing from one to the other of us with
half-frightened, half-hopeful eyes, as one who is not sure whether
he is on the verge of a windfall or of a catastrophe. Then he
stepped into the cab, and in half an hour we were back in the
sitting-room at Baker Street. Nothing had been said during our
drive, but the high, thin breathing of our new companion, and
the claspings and unclaspings of his hands, spoke of the nervous
tension within him.
"Here we are!" said Holmes cheerily as we filed into the
room. "The fire looks very seasonabe in this weather. You look
cold, Mr. Ryder. Pray take the basket-chair. I will just put on my
slippers before we settle this little matter of yours. Now, then!
You want to know what became of those geese?"
"Or rather, I fancy, of that goose. It was one bird, I imagine
in which you were interested -- white, with a black bar across the
Ryder quivered with emotion. "Oh, sir," he cried, "can you
tell me where it went to?"
"It came here."
"Yes, and a most remarkable bird it proved. I don't wonder
that you should take an interest in it. It laid an egg after it was
dead -- the bonniest, brightest little blue egg that ever was seen. I
have it here in my museum."
Our visitor staggered to his feet and clutched the mantelpiece
with his right hand. Holmes unlocked his strong-box and held up
the blue carbuncle, which shone out like a star, with a cold
brilliant, many-pointed radiance. Ryder stood glaring with a
drawn face, uncertain whether to claim or to disown it.
"The game's up, Ryder," said Holmes quietly. "Hold up,
man, or you'll be into the fire! Give him an arm back into his
chair, Watson. He's not got blood enough to go in for felony
with impunity. Give him a dash of brandy. So! Now he looks a
little more human. What a shrimp it is, to be sure!"
For a moment he had staggered and nearly fallen, but the
brandy brought a tinge of colour into his cheeks, and he sat
staring with frightened eyes at his accuser.
"I have almost every link in my hands, and all the proofs
which I could possibly need, so there is little which you need tell
me. Still, that little may as well be cleared up to make the case
complete. You had heard, Ryder, of this blue stone of the
Countess of Morcar's?"
"It was Catherine Cusack who told me of it," said he in a