The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page 9 of 10
"I see -- her ladyship's waiting-maid. Well, the temptation of
sudden wealth so easily acquired was too much for you, as it has
been for better men before you; but you were not very scrupulous in the means you used. It seems to me, Ryder, that there is
the making of a very pretty villain in you. You knew that this
man Horner, the plumber, had been concerned in some such
matter before, and that suspicion would rest the more readily
upon him. What did you do, then? You made some small job in
my lady's room -- you and your confederate Cusack -- and you
managed that he should be the man sent for. Then, when he had
left, you rifled the jewel-case, raised the alarm, and had this
unfortunate man arrested. You then --"
Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the rug and clutched
at my companion's knees. "For God's sake, have mercy!" he
shrieked. "Think of my father! of my mother! It would break
their hearts. I never went wrong before! I never will again. I
swear it. I'll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don't bring it into court!
For Christ's sake, don't!"
"Get back into your chair!" said Holmes sternly. "It is very
well to cringe and crawl now, but you thought little enough of
this poor Horner in the dock for a crime of which he knew
"I will fly, Mr. Holmes. I will leave the country, sir. Then
the charge against him will break down."
"Hum! We will talk about that. And now let us hear a true
account of the next act. How came the stone into the goose, and
how came the goose into the open market? Tell us the truth, for
there lies your only hope of safety."
Ryder passed his tongue over his parched lips. "I will tell you
it just as it happened, sir," said he. "When Horner had been
arrested, it seemed to me that it would be best for me to get
away with the stone at once, for I did not know at what moment
the police might not take it into their heads to search me and my
room. There was no place about the hotel where it would be
safe. I went out, as if on some commission, and I made for my
sister's house. She had married a man named Oakshott, and
lived in Brixton Road, where she fattened fowls for the market.
All the way there every man I met seemed to me to be a
policeman or a detective; and, for all that it was a cold night, the
sweat was pouring down my face before I came to the Brixton
Road. My sister asked me what was the matter, and why I was
so pale; but I told her that I had been upset by the jewel robbery
at the hotel. Then I went into the back yard and smoked a pipe
and wondered what it would be best to do.
"I had a friend once called Maudsley, who went to the bad,
and has just been serving his time in Pentonville. One day he had
met me, and fell into talk about the ways of thieves, and how
they could get rid of what they stole. I knew that he would be
true to me, for I knew one or two things about him; so I made up
my mind to go right on to Kilburn, where he lived, and take him
into my confidence. He would show me how to turn the stone
into money. But how to get to him in safety? I thought of the
agonies I had gone through in coming from the hotel. I might at
any moment be seized and searched, and there would be the
stone in my waistcoat pocket. I was leaning against the wall at
the time and looking at the geese which were waddling about
round my feet, and suddenly an idea came into my head which
showed me how I could beat the best detective that ever lived.
"My sister had told me some weeks before that I might have
the pick of her geese for a Christmas present, and I knew that
she was always as good as her word. I would take my goose
now, and in it I would carry my stone to Kilburn. There was a
little shed in the yard, and behind this I drove one of the
birds -- a fine big one, white, with a barred tail. I caught it, and
prying its bill open, I thrust the stone down its throat as far as
my finger could reach. The bird gave a gulp, and I felt the stone
pass along its gullet and down into its crop. But the creature
flapped and struggled, and out came my sister to know what was
the matter. As I turned to speak to her the brute broke loose and
fluttered off among the others.
" 'Whatever were you doing with that bird, Jem?' says she.
" 'Well,' said I, 'you said you'd give me one for Christmas,
and I was feeling which was the fattest.'
" 'Oh,' says she, 'we've set yours aside for you -- Jem's bird,
we call it. It's the big white one over yonder. There's twenty-six
of them, which makes one for you, and one for us, and two
dozen for the market.'
" 'Thank you, Maggie,' says l; 'but if it is all the same to
you, I'd rather have that one I was handling just now.'
" 'The other is a good three pound heavier,' said she, 'and we
fattened it expressly for you.'
" 'Never mind. I'll have the other, and I'll take it now,' said I.
" 'Oh, just as you like,' said she, a little huffed. 'Which is it
you want, then?'
" 'That white one with the barred tail, right in the middle of
" 'Oh, very well. Kill it and take it with you.'
"Well, I did what she said, Mr. Holmes, and I carried the bird
all the way to Kilburn. I told my pal what I had done, for he was
a man that it was easy to tell a thing like that to. He laughed
until he choked, and we got a knife and opened the goose. My
heart turned to water, for there was no sign of the stone, and I
knew that some terrible mistake had occurred. I left the bird
rushed back to my sister's, and hurried into the back yard. There
was not a bird to be seen there.