“Well, it is quite evident that there are two men — more perhaps, but at least two — who are determined for some reason to get at this fellow Blessington. I have no doubt in my mind that both on the first and on the second occasion that young man penetrated to Blessington’s room, while his confederate, by an ingenious device, kept the doctor from interfering.”
“And the catalepsy?”
“A fraudulent imitation, Watson, though I should hardly dare to hint as much to our specialist. It is a very easy complaint to imitate. I have done it myself.”
“By the purest chance Blessington was out on each occasion. Their reason for choosing so unusual an hour for a consultation was obviously to insure that there should be no other patient in the waiting-room. It just happened, however, that this hour coincided with Blessington’s constitutional, which seems to show that they were not very well acquainted with his daily routine. Of course, if they had been merely after plunder they would at least have made some attempt to search for it. Besides, I can read in a man’s eye when it is his own skin that he is frightened for. It is inconceivable that this fellow could have made two such vindictive enemies as these appear to be without knowing of it. I hold it, therefore, to be certain that he does know who these men are, and that for reasons of his own he suppresses it. It is just possible that to-morrow may find him in a more communicative mood. “
“Is there not one alternative,” I suggested, “grotesquely improbable, no doubt, but still just conceivable? Might the whole story of the cataleptic Russian and his son be a concoction of Dr. Trevelyan’s, who has, for his own purposes, been in Blessington’s rooms?”
I saw in the gas-light that Holmes wore an amused smile at this brilliant departure of mine.
“My dear fellow,” said he, “it was one of the first solutions which occurred to me, but I was soon able to corroborate the doctor’s tale. This young man has left prints upon the stair-carpet which made it quite superfluous for me to ask to see those which he had made in the room. When I tell you that his shoes were square-toed instead of being pointed like Blessington’s, and were quite an inch and a third longer than the doctor’s, you will acknowledge that there can be no doubt as to his individuality. But we may sleep on it now, for I shall be surprised if we do not hear something further from Brook Street in the morning.”
Sherlock Holmes’s prophecy was soon fulfilled, and in a dramatic fashion. At half-past seven next morning, in the first dim glimmer of daylight, I found him standing by my bedside in hls dressing-gown.
“There’s a brougham waiting for us, Watson,” said he.
“What’s the matter, then?”
“The Brook Street business.”
“Any fresh news?”
“Tragic, but ambiguous,” said he, pulling up the blind. “Look at this — a sheet from a notebook, with ‘For God’s sake come at once. P. T.,’ scrawled upon it in pencil. Our friend, the doctor, was hard put to it when he wrote this. Come along, my dear fellow, for it’s an urgent call.”
In a quarter of an hour or so we were back at the physician’s house. He came running out to meet us with a face of horror.
“Oh, such a business!” he cried with his hands to his temples.
“Blessington has committed suicide!”
“Yes, he hanged himself during the night.”
We had entered, and the doctor had preceded us into what was evidently his waiting-room.
“I really hardly know what I am doing,” he cried. “The police are already upstairs. It has shaken me most dreadfully.”
“When did you find it out?”
“He has a cup of tea taken in to him early every morning. When the maid entered, about seven, there the unfortunate fellow was hanging in the middle of the room. He had tied his cord to the hook on which the heavy lamp used to hang, and he had jumped off from the top of the very box that he showed us yesterday.”
Holmes stood for a moment in deep thought.
“With your permission,” said he at last, “I should like to go upstairs and look into the matter.”
We both ascended, followed by the doctor.