“Well, then, we will presume that she had once come on a visit to England, and that this Harold had persuaded her to fly with him.”
“That is more probable.”
“Then the brother — for that, I fancy, must be the relationship -comes over from Greece to interfere. He imprudently puts himself into the power of the young man and his older associate. They seize him and use violence towards him in order to make him sign some papers to make over the girl’s fortune of which he may be trustee — to them. This he refuses to do. In order to negotiate with him they have to get an interpreter, and they pitch upon this Mr. Melas, having used some other one before. The girl is not told of the arrival of her brother and finds it out by the merest accident.”
“Excellent, Watson!” cried Holmes. “I really fancy that you are not far from the truth. You see that we hold all the cards, and we have only to fear some sudden act of violence on their part. If they give us time we must have them.”
“But how can we find where this house lies?”
“Well, if our conjecture is correct and the girl’s name is or was Sophy Kratides, we should have no difficulty in tracing her. That must be our main hope, for the brother is, of coursc, a complete stranger. It is clear that some time has elapsed since this Harold established these relations with the girl — some weeks at any rate — since the brother in Greece has had time to hear of it and come across. If they have been living in the same place during this time, it is probable that we shall have some answer to Mycroft’s advertisement.”
We had reached our house in Baker Street while we had been talking. Holmes ascended the stair first, and as he opened the door of our room he gave a start of surprise. Looking over his shoulder, I was equally astonished. His brother Mycroft was sitting smoking in the armchair.
“Come in, Sherlock! Come in, sir,” said he blandly, smiling at our surprised faces. “You don’t expect such energy from me do you, Sherlock? But somehow this case attracts me.”
“How did you get here?”
“I passed you in a hansom.”
“There has been some new development?”
“I had an answer to my advertisement.”
“Yes, it came within a few minutes of your leaving.”
“And to what effect?”
Mycroft Holmes took out a sheet of paper.
“Here it is,” said he, “written with a J pen on royal cream paper by a middle-aged man with a weak constitution.
Sir [he saysl:
“In answer to your advertisement of to-day’s date, I beg to inform you that I know the young lady in question very well. If you should care to call upon me I could give you some particulars as to her painful history. She is living at present at The Myrtles, Beckenham.
“He writes from Lower Brixton,” said Mycroft Holmes. “Do you not think that we might drive to him now, Sherlock, and learn these particulars?”
“My dear Mycroft, the brother’s life is more valuable than the sister’s story. I think we should call at Scotland Yard for Inspector Gregson and go straight out to Beckenham. We know that a man is being done to death, and every hour may be vital.”
“Better pick up Mr. Melas on our way,” I suggested. “We may need an interpreter.”
“Excellent,” said Sherlock Holmes. “Send the boy for a four-wheeler, and we shall be off at once.” He opened the table-drawer as he spoke, and I noticed that he slipped his revolver into his pocket. “Yes,” said he in answer to my glance, “I should say, from what we have heard, that we are dealing with a particularly dangerous gang.”
It was almost dark before we found ourselves in Pall Mall, at the rooms of Mr. Melas. A gentleman had just called for him, and he was gone.
“Can you tell me where?” asked Mycroft Holmes.
“I don’t know, sir,” answered the woman who had opened the door; “I only know that he drove away with the gentleman in a carriage.”
“Did the gentleman give a name?”
“He wasn’t a tall, handsome, dark young man?”
“Oh, no, sir. He was a little gentleman, with glasses, thin in the face, but very pleasant in his ways, for he was laughing all the time that he was talking.”
“Come along!” cried Sherlock Holmes abruptly. “This grows serious,” he observed as we drove to Scotland Yard. “These men have got hold of Melas again. He is a man of no physical courage, as they are well aware from their experience the other night.This villain was able to terrorize him the instant that he got into his presence. No doubt they want his professional services, but, having used him, they may be inclined to punish him for what they will regard as his treachery.”
Our hope was that, by taking train, we might get to Beckenham as soon as or sooner than the carriage. On reaching Scotland Yard, however, it was more than an hour before we could get Inspector Gregson and comply with the legal formalities which would enable us to enter the house. It was a quarter to ten before we reached London Bridge, and half past before the four of us alighted on the Beckenham platform. A drive of half a mile brought us to The Myrtles — a large, dark house standing back from the road in its own grounds. Here we dismissed our cab and made our way up the drive togeter.