The Adventure of the
Being one of the exciting episodes
in the career of the famous detective
Hemlock Holmes, as recorded
:: :: by his friend Dr. Watson :: ::
James Francis Thierry
The Adventure of the Eleven Cuff-Buttons
Well, you see, it was like this:
After my illustrious friend, Hemlock Holmes,
champion unofficial detective of the world, had
doped out "The Adventure of the Second
Stain,"—the last one to be pulled off after his
return to life,—thereby narrowly averting a
great war, he got sick of London life and hiked
over to the United States. He prevailed upon
me to accompany him to that remarkable country;
and we stayed there for three years, living
in New York City all the time. There, on many
occasions, Holmes displayed to great advantage
his marvelous powers, and helped the New York
police to clear up many a mystery that they had
been unable to solve; for we found the police
of that city to be just as stupid and chuckle-headed
as those of London.
While in New York Holmes and I both
learned to use American slang, and in case this
little book should happen to be read by any of
London society's "upper crust," I humbly beg
their pardon for any examples of slang that
may have crept into its pages.
Upon the death of King Edward in May,
1910, Hemlock Holmes was called back to
London by the Scotland Yard officials to solve
the mysterious disappearance of the British
royal crown, which somebody had swiped the
same day that Ed kicked the bucket; and of
course I had to trail along with him! Well, to
cover up a "narsty" scandal, my unerring
friend, Hemlock Holmes, detected the guilty
wretch within two days, but the culprit was so
highly placed in society that the cops couldn't
do a thing to him. In fact, he was one of the
dukes, and after King George, Ed's successor,
had recovered the crown,—which was found in
an old battered valise in a corner of the duke's
garage,—and had got a written confession out of
him in Holmes's old rooms in Baker Street, in
the presence of myself and Inspector Barnabas
Letstrayed, we all swore a solemn oath, on a
bound volume of Alfred Austin's poems, that
we would never, never tell who it was that had
stolen the English crown in the year 1910! Wild
horses shall not drag from me the name of that
ducal scoundrel, and, besides, there might be a
German spy looking over your shoulder as you
Holmes and I decided to stay back in the tight
little isle for a while after that episode, and
there in the same old den, at 221-B Baker Street,
in the city of London, we were domiciled on that
eventful April morning in 1912 that saw us introduced
to what turned out to be positively
the dog-gonedest, most mixed-up, perplexing,
and mysterious case we ever bumped up against
in all our long and varied career in Arthur Conan
Doyle's dream-pipe. It completely laid
over "The Sign of the Four" and "The Study
in Scarlet," and had "The Adventure of the
Blue Carbuncle" all beaten to a frazzle.
To be painfully precise about it, it was just
twenty minutes after nine, Monday morning,
April the eighth, 1912, the day after Easter, and
it was raining something fierce outside. The
whirling raindrops pattered against our second-story
windows, and occasional thunder and
lightning varied the scene.
Holmes was sitting, or, rather, sprawling in
a Morris chair, wrapped in his old lavender
dressing-gown, and was wearing the red Turkish
slippers King George had given him for
Christmas a few months before. He had his
little old bottle of cocaine on the table beside
him, and his dope-needle, which he had just
filled, in his hand. I was sitting on the opposite
side of the littered-up table, engaged in rolling
a pill, that is to say, a coffin-nail. I had just
poured out the tobacco into the rice-paper, and
Hemlock Holmes had pulled back his left cuff,
baring his tattooed but muscular wrist, just
ready to take his fifth shot in the arm since
breakfast, when all of a sudden there was a
terrible clatter and racket down at our front
door; we heard the door jerked open and then
slammed shut; somebody rushed up the stairway
three steps at a time; our own door was
kicked open, and a tall, bald-headed man, about
forty years old, wearing a monocle in his right
eye, and with a derby hat in one hand, and a
wet, streaming umbrella in the other, stood before
"Say! The cuff-buttons are gone,—the cuff-buttons
are gone! One pair of them, anyhow.
Come quick! The earl is nearly wild about it.
Money's no object to him!" the apparition
yelled at us.
I was so completely taken aback by the way
that chump had burst in on us that I spilled all
the beautiful tobacco off the cigarette-paper
onto the floor. Holmes, however, like the cold-blooded
old cuss that he always was, didn't
even bat an eye, but calmly proceeded to squirt
the cocaine into his wrist, and then, with the
usual deep sigh of contentment, he stretched
out full length in the chair, with his arms above
his head, and yawned.
"Well, my hasty friend from Hedge-gutheridge,
so you haven't got all your buttons, eh?"
he drawled. "I congratulate you upon your
frankness, as it isn't everybody who will admit
it. But sit down, anyhow, and make yourself
at home. Watson has the 'makings' over there;
I've got a cocaine-squirter here you can use, if
you wish, and you will find a nice dish of red
winter apples up on the mantelpiece. Beyond
the mere facts that you are a bachelor, live at
Hedge-gutheridge in County Surrey, do a great
deal of writing, belong to the Fraternal Order
of Zebras, and shaved yourself very quickly this
morning, I know nothing whatever about you."
Of course, I knew that was the cue for my
little song and dance.
"Marvelous! marvelous!" I shouted.
But our visitor was a long ways more surprised
than I was. He flopped down in a chair,
stared at Holmes as if he were a ghost, and
"Good Lord! How in thunder did you get
onto all that?"
My eminent friend smiled his old crafty smile,
as he waved his hands, and replied:
"Why, you poor simp, it's all as plain as that
little round window-pane called a monocle that
you've got stuck in your eye there. I knew
right away that you were a bachelor, because
there is a general air of seediness about you and
two buttons are missing from your vest; I knew
that you live at Hedge-gutheridge, because
you've got a ticket marked to that place sticking
out of your vest-pocket; I knew that you do lots
of writing, for the perfectly obvious reason that
you have ink smeared over the thumb and first
two fingers of your right hand; I knew that you
belong to the Fraternal Order of Zebras, because
I can see an F. O. Z. watch-charm on
your pocket; and, finally, I knew that you
scraped the incipient spinach off your mug very
rapidly this morning because I can see three
large recent razor-cuts on your chin and jaws!
Perfectly easy when you know how!" And old
Hemlock winked at me. "So spill out your
little story to me, one mouthful at a time, and
don't get all balled up while you're telling it
Our visitor gasped again in amazement, handed
Holmes his card, and began:
"Well, my name is Eustace Thorneycroft,
private secretary to George Arthur Percival
Chauncey Dunderhaugh, the ninth Earl of Puddingham,
who lives at Normanstow Towers,
near Hedge-gutheridge, over in Surrey. As
you are probably aware, the Earl's most precious
treasure is,—or, rather, are the six pairs
of fancy, diamond-studded, gold cuff-buttons
that His Majesty King George I presented to
his ancestor, Reginald Bertram Dunderhaugh,
the second Earl of Puddingham, upon King
George's accession to the British throne in the
"It is an historical fact that King George
paid twenty-four hundred pounds for the six
pairs of cuff-buttons,—their value being considerably
greater now,—and the diamond in each
one is as large as the end of a man's thumb; so
you can see at once how very valuable they are,
to say nothing of the sentimental value of having
been a present from a king to the Earl's
ancestor two centuries ago."
"Oh, yes; I have heard about the Puddingham
cuff-buttons," said Holmes, as he reached
over, and grabbing the cigarette I had just
rolled, calmly stuck it in his own mouth, and lit
it. "Old King George I had no more taste than
a Pittsburg millionaire! But go on with your
Thorneycroft continued, occasionally taking a
bite out of one of the apples Holmes had offered
"Well, just this Easter Monday morning,
when the Earl was being dressed by his valet,
an Italian named Luigi Vermicelli, he noticed
with horror that his nice pink-and-green silk
shirt, lying over the back of the mahogany arm-chair
beside his bed, had the ancestral cuff-buttons
missing from the cuffs!
"He is absolutely sure that they were in the
cuffs when he took the shirt off last night, since
he remembers distinctly having polished them
up a bit with his handkerchief when he retired,
and he cannot account for their mysterious disappearance.
He has a large and ferocious bulldog
on guard outside the castle every night, so
he is sure no burglar got in, as the dog made no
noise during the night.
"As for any possible suspicion attaching to
the Earl's servants, I will say that they have all
been with him for several years, all came highly
recommended, and he would not presume to suspect
any of them of having stolen the heirlooms."
"Which apparently reduces us to the two interesting
hypotheses that either the cuff-buttons
flew away by themselves or else the Earl
hid them while he was drunk," interrupted
Holmes, as he thoughtfully rubbed his left ear.
At this, the secretary stared, but went on:
"The constables from the village of Hedge-gutheridge,
a half a mile from the castle, to
whom the Earl telephoned immediately upon
discovering his loss, and who came up there
within twenty minutes after, were not so confident
of the servants' innocence, however, as
they insisted on lining up all fourteen of them
in the main corridor and searching them in a
very ungentlemanly manner! As an after-thought,
the constables even had the temerity to
search me, as if I would dream of doing such a
thing as that,—me, Eustace Thorneycroft!
"But they couldn't find the precious pair of
diamond cuff-buttons on them at all; so the
Earl had me beat it right into London on the
next train, and engage you to ferret out the
scoundrels responsible for this dastardly outrage!
His Lordship didn't even give me time
to finish my breakfast, he was so worked up
about it, and compelled me to catch the eight-fourteen
train out of Hedge-gutheridge, with a
rasher of bacon and a half-empty cup of coffee
on the dining table behind me. So that's why
you see me tearing into these red apples so
voraciously, Mr. Holmes! I reckon the swift
ride through the Surrey downs on a rainy morning
sharpened my appetite, too.
"So that's all there is to tell you, except that
here's a hundred gold sovereigns for your retaining
fee, and the Earl will positively pay
you a reward of ten thousand pounds more
when you recover the lost pair of cuff-buttons."
And Thorneycroft threw a chamois bag, full
of coins, across the table.
"Ah, ha! Five hundred cold bucks in Yankee
money!" cried Hemlock Holmes, as he
rubbed his hands with pleasure. "Gather up
this mazuma, Watson, and give His Nibs a receipt
for it, as we are both after the coin, only
you haven't got the nerve to admit it. Well,
Mr. Wormyloft,—er, I mean Thorneycroft,—tell
the Earl of Puddingham that I and my bone-headed
assistant here will guarantee to give him
a run for his money, and that if we don't find
the ancestral cuff-buttons, at least we'll tear up
half of County Surrey looking for them!"
Our bald-headed visitor here took up his hat
and umbrella and opened the door, about to depart.
"Gosh, it's raining worse than ever now!"
he said. "Well, I've got to shovel dust,—or,
rather, mud,—back to Normanstow Towers,
anyhow, or the Earl will raise the deuce with
me! Be sure to come out on the next train after
this, Mr. Holmes, which leaves London at one-twenty-two,
as the Earl will be expecting you,
and what's more, he'll have a coach-and-four
waiting for you at the Hedge-gutheridge station.
And the Earl's secretary stepped out, closed
the door after him, and was gone.
As we heard him going down the stairs, and
then leaving by the outer door, Holmes got up,
shook himself, stretched out his lanky arms, and
"Well, we've got a hundred pounds in gold
here, Watson," he said. "Now it's up to us to
scare up a good bluff at earning it! Let's see,—it's
ten o'clock now, and we must leave the
rooms at one o'clock to get to the station for the
one-twenty-two train. So we'll have luncheon,—or
lunch, just as you prefer,—at twelve-thirty.
That leaves me two hours and a half to
read 'Old Nick Carter.'"
Hemlock got out several yellow-back dime-novels
from the book-rack in the corner, pulled
the Morris chair over to the window, and
started in on his light literature.
"What! Aren't you worrying about the
Puddingham cuff-buttons at all? Aren't you
going to try to dope out an explanation of their
disappearance?" I inquired anxiously.
"There you go again, Watson, you old boob!"
my friend replied. "How many times must I
tell you that it is a capital mistake to theorize
in advance of the facts! Keep your shirt on till
we get out to the castle, Doc; and in the meantime
ich kebibble who swiped the cuff-buttons!"
I knew from long experience that it was useless
to argue with him, so I just sat there like a
bump on a log for the rest of the morning, wondering
why the Sam Hill it was that I still continued
to swallow such talk as that, when I knew
it was my duty to rise up and paste him one in
the eye for his sarcasms.
As Holmes and I were sitting down to luncheon
at twelve-thirty that noon, and Mrs. Hudson,
our old reliable landlady, was placing a
fried pork-chop on my plate, we were again
startled at hearing a terrific banging at the
front door. The rain had died down somewhat,
but it was still cloudy and disagreeable outside.
In a moment more our own door was thrust
open, and another visitor,—a young man of
about thirty,—butted in on our privacy.
"Oh, I'm sure I beg your pardon, gentlemen,"
said this guy as he entered, "but I am
Lord Launcelot Dunderhaugh, younger brother
of the Earl of Puddingham, whose secretary,
Mr. Thorneycroft, was here this morning. I
came to tell you that since his return, two more
pairs of those historic cuff-buttons have been
stolen, and to see that you come out to the castle
on the one-twenty-two train without fail!"
"Hum, that's hard lines, ain't it, Launcelot?"
said Holmes, as he waved him to a chair;
"you'll excuse us if Watson and I go on with
our luncheon while you talk. Got any idea who
lifted the second and third pair,—any clues at
all to the guilty wretches?"
"No, Mr. Holmes; I really haven't," replied
Lord Launcelot, as he sat down. "It's quite
annoying to have to think about such a disconcerting
event, so much out of my usual line,
And the Earl's brother contemplated the floor
in gloomy silence for the next twenty-five minutes,
while H. H. and I were feeding our faces.
When we had finished and had lit a couple of
cigarettes, Holmes, handing one to Launcelot,
"Well, it's just one o'clock. Time to beat it,
"All right, Mr. Holmes, I'm your man," said
And, the rain having stopped now, we left
the house together, after hurriedly packing a
few things in our suit-case.
We soon arrived at the station, where we
boarded the Surrey train. No further word
could be got out of our noble companion as we
sped through the southern London suburbs and
along the country landscape,—not even after
the April sun had straggled through the clouds
and begun to brighten up the scene.
"Ax-gibberish!" yelled the guard,—or words
to that effect,—as he slammed open the door of
our compartment, and the train slowed down
and at length stopped in front of a dinky little
two-by-four station, with a cluster of worm-eaten
old houses and a couple of sloppy-looking
store buildings near it that looked as if they had
all been erected prior to the Norman Conquest,
or even possibly antedated the Christian era.
"Well, I guess this must be Hedge-gutheridge
all right, in spite of the guard's mispronunciation
of its euphonious name," remarked
Holmes, stepping off the train onto the decayed
platform, which sagged perilously under his
As Launcelot and I followed suit, a short,
nervous-looking man of about thirty-five, with
a florid countenance, rushed out of the ancient
station toward us, and shouted:
"O Launcie, Launcie, misfortune has followed
misfortune upon our venerable family of
Dunderhaugh this miserable day! Two more
pairs of those cuff-buttons have been abstracted
during your absence, making five pairs in all
that are gone! I suppose this is the eminent
And the noble Earl of Puddingham hurriedly
shook hands with my boss.
"Right you are, Your Lordship," said
Holmes, "and here is the egregious Dr. Watson,
also at your service. You see, he's my old
side-kicker, and I couldn't think of entering
upon a crook-chase without him tagging along
after me to write it up in well-chosen language.
Do you get me, Steve? And, say, don't worry
about the cuff-buttons. We'll find 'em all
"Assuredly, Mr. Holmes," said the Earl, as
we all stepped into a coach that was waiting
back of the station, with Launcelot more gloomy
and depressed than ever.
"Home, Olaf! And get a move on!" This
to the fat little coachman who drove the ancestral
"Ay bane get there pooty qvick, Your Lordship,"
said that Norwegian worthy, as he
whipped up the horses, and in five minutes'
time we had dashed up to a large and imposing
stone castle with round towers at each corner,—apparently
about five hundred years old and
five stories high,—surrounded by an extensive
garden and park, with a small woods in the
rear: just the kind you read about, with green
gobs of ivy hanging down over the gray walls.
"Well, here we are, my friends," said the
Earl, as he stepped out; while two footmen in
light green livery assisted us to alight. "Let's
see if I've still got the sixth and last pair of my
diamond cuff-buttons safe here."
He fumbled with his cuffs a moment, and
"Yes, they're still here. What with Lloyd-George
soaking all the British nobility with his
preposterous income-tax, and everything going
to the demnition bow-wows generally, you can't
tell but that you'll be beaten out of your eye-teeth
the next minute!"
As Holmes stepped out of the Puddingham
coach and started up the broad stone stairway
leading to the main entrance of the five-story
castle, he stumbled over a good-sized rock lying
on the graveled road at the foot of the stairs,
and would have landed on his revered nose if I
had not caught him.
"I fear that this is a bad omen," said the
Earl, frowning; "but I trust it may not prevent
the success of our undertaking."
"Don't worry! I wasn't hurt," answered
And we went up the stairway together.
The great bronze door opened, and a lady
dressed in the latest London style (or maybe it
was Paris) greeted us with:
"Welcome to Normanstow Towers, Mr.
Holmes, and Dr. Watson, also. I am sure that
my husband the Earl and all of us will be more
than glad if you recover the lost diamond cuff-buttons
"I hope so, madame," said Holmes, as the
Earl formally introduced us. "We will certainly
do our best."
The butler, standing beside the Countess Annabelle,
winked at us as she went into the drawing-room
on one side of the corridor, and beckoned
to us to enter the library on the other side.
"Well, Harrigan, you may pour us out each
a glass of wine," said the Earl, as Holmes,
Lord Launcelot, and I followed him into the
The library was a very handsomely furnished
library, but it looked as if the noble master of
Normanstow Towers did more drinking than
reading in its luxurious interior, as three trays
with at least a dozen empty glasses stood on the
broad mahogany table, while a decanter of
whiskey, a siphon of seltzer-water, and five
quart bottles of wine decorated a smaller table
at one side.
The butler filled four glasses with some excellent
Burgundy, and as we finished them, the
"Where are Uncle Tooter, Mr. Hicks, and Mr.
Budd,—and Thorneycroft, too, Harrigan?"
"They're all up in the billiard room, trying
to forget the unseemly tragedy that has marred
the tranquil tenor of our lives here," replied
Harrigan, winking at us again.
"Well, I only wish I, too, could forget it; but
how can I? King George will never receive me
again if those precious cuff-buttons aren't
And the Earl started up the stairs to the second
floor. "Come on up and join them, Mr.
Holmes, before you begin your usual tape-measuring,
snooping around with a magnifying-glass,
and analyzing cigar ashes! You see, I'm
on to all your little tricks."
"Well, say, hold on a minute, Puddy,—er, I
mean Your Lordship. I don't mind stalling
awhile before I begin pulling off my historic
stunts, as this detective business is only a graft
anyhow. But as my long suit has always been
to criticize the regular police force, I must ask
you why in thunder those constables from the
village aren't here on guard, considering that
three successive thefts have occurred here in
the same day," remonstrated my friend.
"Oh, they went back to Hedge-gutheridge at
noon," replied the Earl, shrugging his shoulders,
"telling me they would wait till all six
pairs of cuff-buttons were stolen before they
would do anything more, as they would then
probably have more clues to follow!"
"Can you beat it, Watson?" said Holmes to
me as we ascended the elegant stairway to the
fourth floor. "These guys are just about as
brainy as the average American cop I bumped
into on the other side of the Big Pond."
On the fourth floor we entered a large room
with a billiard table and a pool table in it, where
four men were busily engaged in killing time,—two
at each table.
"Put up your cues a minute, Uncle Tooter
and the rest of you, while I introduce you to
Mr. Hemlock Holmes, the celebrated butter-in
on other people's business, whom I have hired
at an exorbitant price to run down the depraved
scoundrels who cabbaged my diamond cuff-buttons.
If he can't catch 'em, nobody can, I guess.
Mr. Holmes, meet the Countess's uncle, Mr. J.
Edmund Tooter, of Hyderabad, India; my
friend, Mr. William Q. Hicks, of Saskatoon,
Canada; and Mr. William X. Budd, of Melbourne,
Australia." The Earl had us shake
hands with the three. "My secretary, Eustace
Thorneycroft, you have already met."
"Hello, Holmes, old fellow," was the smiling
greeting of this worthy. "I'll shoot you a game
of pool. Billiards is too intricate a game for
my limited intellect to follow."
"All right," agreed Holmes with a grin.
The Earl stepped to a speaking-tube on the
wall and called downstairs to the butler:
"Say, Harrigan, hurry us up a box of Havanas,—will
In a minute the jovial master of refreshments
came running up the stairs with a box of cigars
under each arm.
"I thought I might as well bring two, Your
Lordship," he explained.
"Sure, Harrigan; hand 'em around. Now,
smoke up, gents," said the Earl. "'Sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof.' As long as
I've still got the last pair of those blarsted cuff-buttons
in my cuffs,"—here he took off his coat
and displayed to full view the famous heirlooms,
which gleamed like a pair of locomotive
headlights,—"we'll wait till to-morrow before
tearing up the foundations of the castle looking
for the others!"
So they played on, at pool and billiards, for
the rest of that Monday afternoon, Hemlock
Holmes and the six gilded loafers, while I sat
idly in a chair at one side, smoking several good
cigars, my job being that of an innocent looker-on,
trying to figure out who was the biggest fool
in the place,—the easy-going Earl of Puddingham,
for shoveling out good money to my
grafting partner, or Holmes himself, for frittering
away his brilliant talents in such piffle
At six o'clock we were served a delectable dinner
in the great oak-paneled dining-room of the
castle, prepared by the Earl's French chef,
Louis La Violette; and we passed the evening
in the library, sipping away several more bottles
of the Earl's best vintages and listening to
the more or less improbable tales of their adventures
in the three faraway realms of the
world by Messrs. Tooter, Hicks, and Budd,
while Holmes managed to pump Harrigan on
the Q. T., and found out from him that the
Earl was rated at two million pounds, in the
form of several thousand acres of valuable
land up in Yorkshire, including one or two good-sized
At half-past ten Holmes and I retired for the
night, having been assigned to one of the spacious
guest-rooms on the third floor; and soon
we were wrapped in slumber.
Thud—thud—thud! Biff! Rattle! Bang!
came a noise from below.
I sat bolt upright in bed, and hollered through
the pitch-darkness at the top of my voice:
"Help! Police! Burglars! Robbers! Wake
up, Holmes, and catch 'em!"
Despite the racket I made, which was increased
by my jumping out of bed and falling
head-first over a chair, upsetting the latter, the
hardened old cuss slept on. When I yelled
again, and shook him by the shoulder, he half
opened his eyes and said:
"Well, what's eating you, Watson? Got the
nightmare? I told you that you took too much
mince-pie last night!"
"For Heaven's sake, didn't you hear the
noise downstairs, Holmes?" I shouted. "Somebody
is breaking in, trying to steal the Earl's
last pair of diamond cuff-buttons!"
Holmes yawned lazily, rolled over in bed, and
said, as he settled himself to sleep again:
"Well, I can't help it, Watson. I was hired to
work in the daytime, not at night. I guess the
excitement will keep till morning."
And,—would you believe it?—I couldn't get
another word out of him! I looked at my watch
by the moonlight, and found that it was thirteen
minutes after two a. m. Then, thinking I might
get a sight of the burglar from our bedroom
window, I drew the heavy, old-fashioned curtains
aside, and peered out over the silent landscape
thirty feet below. But I couldn't see a
blamed thing but trees and grass, and a moss-covered
stone wall out by the road; the Earl's
bulldog not being in evidence anywhere.
I knelt down by the window, put my elbows on
the sill, and resolved to wait there awhile, to
see if the nocturnal disturber would hike out
Apparently I fell asleep in this attitude, for
the next thing I knew, Holmes, fully dressed,
was bending over me with a grin on his face,
and it was broad daylight.
"Well, why don't you wake up yourself, Doc?
It's eight o'clock," he said. Then I arose sheepishly,
After our ablutions in the lavatory next door,—where
we helped ourselves to a bottle of
whiskey we found in a medicine cabinet on the
wall,—we descended the two flights of stairs to
the main floor. Finding nobody around, we
walked through the different rooms on an exploring
tour, seeking evidences of the disturbance
the night before.
"Say, they evidently don't use alarm-clocks
in this shack, Watson. Not a thing stirring
yet," said Holmes, as we came to a room with
the door slightly ajar.
"Hello, what's this?" he exclaimed, as we
entered the room. "His Lordship must have
retired in a rather submerged condition! Look
at him there!"
I was surprised to see the noble heir of all the
Puddinghams lying on the floor of his bedroom,
flat on his back, his eyes closed, and with one
foot resting on an overturned chair; and horrified,
as I came closer, to see a large purple
bruise on his forehead, and a heavy iron poker
lying on the floor beside him. The diamond cuff-button
was also gone from his right cuff, but
the rays of the morning sun, coming through
the east windows, shone on the other glittering
bauble, still in his left cuff.
Holmes very unconcernedly took a cigarette
out of his pocket and lit it, his eyes meanwhile
glancing about the room; but I dropped on my
knees beside the Earl and placed my ear over
his chest. To my horror, I could not hear even
the faintest heart-beat. My face paled as I
looked up at my companion.
"Holmes," I said solemnly, "the Earl is
dead! Murder has been added to robbery
"That so, Doc?" queried the cold-blooded old
cuss, blowing out a cloud of cigarette-smoke
and yawning. "Well, what'll I do first,—magnifying-glass
"Holmes," I remonstrated sharply, unable to
contain myself at his manner, "if you had come
down here six hours ago when we heard that
noise, we might have caught the criminals! Now
it's too late."
And I turned to examine the bruise on the
"Oh, keep your shirt on, Watson," retorted
Holmes, "I'm not the Earl's private bodyguard,
and what's more, I'm not concerned with
what might be, but with what is. Are you sure
he's dead, or are you only making another awkward
mistake? 'Twould be rather embarrassing,
I should think, to have the Earl wake up in
a minute and tell us he's not dead!"
At this insult to my professional ability as a
physician, I got on my ear, and said with a
"Well, if you don't think he's dead, just see
whether you can detect any heart-beat there,—smart
as you are."
Holmes was bending down over the apparent
corpse, when we heard some one walking along
the corridor outside.
"Quick, Watson, sneak into this closet here,
and observe developments!" whispered Holmes,
as he gripped me by the arm, and hustled me
into the closet, the door of which stood slightly
In a moment more Her Ladyship, Annabelle,
Countess of Puddingham, appeared in the
Earl's room, took one look at her husband's recumbent
form on the floor, and let out a scream
that might have been heard in the next county,
before she toppled over in a dead faint.
Holmes rushed out of the closet, seized her
just in time to prevent her falling over the
Earl's body, and whispered to me, as he placed
her propped up in a chair, and as various
people were heard running through the other
rooms toward us, attracted by the Countess's
"Well, she didn't have a hand in this, Doc.
That scream was genuine, and she didn't know
we were listening, either."
A small crowd of servants, all gaping in
amazement, now filled the doorway, and Holmes
"Which one of you people is the Earl's
valet?" Adding: "You had better lay your
master on the bed there."
One of the men stepped forward, and answered:
"I am the Earl's valet, sir. Is His Lordship
"Well, Dr. Watson says he is. But lay him
out on the bed, anyhow,—he will look more respectable
there than on the floor," said Holmes,
as Vermicelli, the valet, assisted by another
man, who said he was Peter Van Damm, valet
to Lord Launcelot, picked up the Earl's body
and deposited it, or him, on the bed.
Launcelot, Uncle Tooter, Budd, Hicks and
Thorneycroft here crowded themselves into the
room and, on seeing what had happened, added
to the general buzz of excited exclamations; but
Holmes took command of the situation, like the
old hand that he was, entirely used to such
gruesome sights, and stepped to the telephone
on a small table in one corner of the Earl's
"Give me the village constables,—any of
them,—at Hedge-gutheridge, quick!" he called
through the instrument. "This one of the constables?"—after
a moment. "This is Normanstow
Towers. The Earl of Puddingham has
apparently been murdered by some one attempting
to steal the last of his diamond cuff-buttons....
Hemlock Holmes, from London, talking.
Have all your men come up here at once and
surround the place, letting no one in or out!...
Whom do I suspect? Never mind whom I
suspect. I'd never suspect you constables of
having too much brains after the way you left
here yesterday noon, with the castle unguarded,—that's
a cinch!... Now don't take all day
getting here. Good-by!"
And Holmes slammed the receiver back on
the hook, whirled around on the chair, and faced
the gaping crowd of people in the room.
"Well, what are you looking at?" he demanded.
"Get together there, some of you, and
bring order out of chaos. You there, with the
vacant look on your face, are you the Countess's
maid?"—addressing one of the three
woman servants. "Take care of your mistress
there in that chair. Can't you see she's coming
out of her faint? If the cook is among you, he'd
better get back to the kitchen and prepare
breakfast. Watson, you take this revolver
here,"—fishing a six-shooter out of his pocket
and handing it to me,—"go to the rear entrance
of the castle, and stand guard there till those
tortoise-like constables arrive. Let no one in or
out; and I will do the same at the front entrance.
Do you get me, Steve?"
And Holmes jumped up, full of renewed
"pep," and boldly pushed those of the friends
and servants of the deceased Earl who didn't
move quickly right out of the room into the corridor,
the Countess having been assisted in the
meantime up to her own room on the second
floor by her Spanish maid.
"I say there, Holmes, don't you think you're
going it pretty strong?" protested Billie Budd,
the man from Australia, as he was shoved along
with the rest of them by the masterful detective.
"Just keep your shirt on, Mr. Budd," said
the latter, as he locked the door of the Earl's
room behind him and put the key in his pocket.
"I'm running this show, not you. I was sent
here to get results, and I'm going to get 'em,—see?"
"I guess the old cocaine is beginning to work
on him again," I muttered.
Then I started with the gun to the rear door
of the castle, while Holmes, after overawing the
others, stationed himself at the front door, with
another loaded and cocked revolver in his hand.
After about fifteen minutes of tiresome waiting,
while several of the servants peeped out at
me from the rear rooms as I stood sentinel at
the end of the corridor, just inside the great
iron barred door, I heard Holmes's welcome
shout from the front of the building:
"All right, Watson; the constables are here!"
In a moment a wooden-faced gink appeared,
who said he had come to relieve me. I put the
revolver in my pocket and rejoined Holmes in
the drawing-room, where I found him with Lord
Launcelot and the others.
"Well, boys, I've got four constables completely
surrounding the castle now,—one on
each side,—so we'll sit down to breakfast. It's
nearly nine o'clock now."
And Holmes moved toward the dining-room.
"All right, old top," said Launcelot, smiling
at the detective. "As long as George Arthur,—the
Earl, you know,—is disabled or dead, I am
the master of the house, and I'll back you up in
everything you do."
"Even if I should happen to arrest you for
stealing some of the cuff-buttons yourself, eh?"
queried Holmes with a grin, as we sat down to
our delayed breakfast.
Launcelot sort of choked at this, stared at the
speaker, and said:
"What queer things you do get off, Mr.
Holmes! Your idea of a joke, I suppose."
The ever-smiling butler we had met the day
before, whose spirits did not seem dampened by
the tragedies that had lately occurred, moved
around the table silently and quickly as he waited
on us seven men partaking of breakfast, with
a dead man in the other room.
As I watched them there, I noticed that the
five habitués of the castle all seemed rather embarrassed
when Holmes looked at them, and
would then look the other way, evidently on account
of his brutal remark to the Earl's brother.
Harrigan had just brought me a second cup
of coffee, holding it poised over the edge of the
table, when the door opened, and His Lordship,
the deceased Earl of Puddingham, walked in on
us, looking very pale, with one hand pressed to
I felt cold chills creep over me, as Harrigan
dropped the cup of coffee crash-splash on the
"Good-night! A ghost!"
Every one else in the room was so surprised
that he sat speechless, except Holmes. Billie
Budd swallowed a peach-stone in his astonishment,
and coughed and spluttered for quite a
"What, aren't you dead, George?" Launcelot
finally managed to gasp, as the Earl walked
over to his vacant chair at the head of the table
and sat down in it.
"Why, no; of course not. You're a fine bunch
of rumdums, though, I must say, to leave a man
like that, after he's been assaulted and
robbed!" said the Earl, as he motioned to Harrigan
to bring him some breakfast.
Holmes turned to me, with his customary irritating
grin, and said: "Well, Doc; what did I
tell you? Never count your coroner's fees before
The Earl bade Harrigan summon one of the
footmen and tell him to carry the news of his
sudden return to life to the Countess in her
room upstairs. Then he proceeded with his
breakfast, just as much alive as ever.
"For the benefit of you who do not know, I
will say that I have a very peculiar heart," he
volunteered after a pause, "and it sometimes
stops beating entirely for a while. All that I
remember since I retired last night,—with my
clothes on, after tossing off a few more glasses
in the library,—was being awakened in the middle
of the night by some one opening the door,
darting over to me, and jerking the diamond
cuff-button out of my right cuff, which was on
the side nearest the door, and my rising up out
of bed to hit him a crack, when I was knocked
unconscious in my struggles by the iron poker,
which the intruder seized from the fireplace.
He hit me on the forehead, and I didn't know
anything more until just a moment ago, when I
woke up with a headache, and only one cuff-button
left. If Mr. Holmes can lay hands on the
unholy miscreant who is guilty of this and the
previous outrages, he will have earned my everlasting
gratitude, also a reward of twenty thousand
pounds,—double what I had Thorneycroft
offer him yesterday."
"That sounds like business," said Holmes,
as he jumped up, the Earl and all of us being
finished by this time. "Watson, you can put it
down in your little red notebook that at precisely"—here
he glanced up at the ornate clock
on the mantelpiece—"twenty minutes after
nine, Tuesday morning, April the ninth, 1912,
the burglar-hunt began; just exactly twenty-four
hours, by the way, since we were first informed
of the Earl's loss."
"All right, go to it, Holmes," said the Earl.
"I guess you know how. I give you carte
blanche to go as far as you like."
We at once adjourned to the drawing-room, at
the right side of the front of the first floor of
the castle, and Hemlock Holmes issued his
"Your Lordship, the first thing I will pull off
is an examination of every one on the place,—your
relatives, friends, servants and all,—no
one is exempt. Your own story I have heard.
Here we were interrupted by the constable
whom Holmes had set to guard the front of the
castle, who came in and said:
"Hi beg pahdon, Mr. 'Olmes, but here is Inspector
Bahnabas Letstrayed, just arrived
from London, to see that everything is hall
"I don't see how it could be, when he ain't
right himself!" snapped Holmes, with a frown,
as the bulky form of our old friend in previous
adventures loomed up in the doorway. "Well,
come in, you old nuisance," he added, as he motioned
him to one end of the room. "It's enough
to make a man bite a piece out of the wall when
he has to contend with two such rummies as you
and Doc Watson around him, particularly when
he has a job on hand that requires close and attentive
Inspector Letstrayed removed his tweed cap
and joined us over by the mantel, with a fatuous
smile on his large face.
"As I was about to say, when Barnaby butted
in, the first man who noticed any of the cuff-buttons
stolen, next to the Earl himself, was
Luigi Vermicelli, his Italian valet. Call him
in," ordered Holmes.
On a motion from the Earl, his secretary
Thorneycroft went out to the corridor and
brought in the more or less scared valet.
"What's your full name?" demanded
"Luigi Vittorio Vermicelli."
"Where were you born?"
"At Brescia, in the north of Italy."
"How old are you,—and where did you work
before you gave the Earl the benefit of your
"Thirty-two. I was valet to a prominent
banker in Venice."
"Ever been in jail?"
"Why, er,—yes," and the Italian became embarrassed.
"I was arrested for intoxication
once just before I left Venice; but I was imprisoned
for only ten days."
"So you fell off the water-wagon, eh,—even
in the watery city?" commented Holmes.
"Well, were you sober when you put away the
Earl's shirt last night, with the diamond cuff-buttons
in it,—that is, sober enough to notice
that the buttons were really there in the cuffs?"
"Oh, yes, sir. I am quite sure that the cuff-buttons
must have been stolen during the
"Did you hear any noise Sunday night to indicate
that burglars were getting in?"
"No, sir; not a thing. I didn't even hear the
dog bark, as he usually does. I think that the
cuff-buttons were stolen by somebody inside the
"Ah, ha! This is getting interesting," said
Holmes, with animation. "And whom do you
suspect? Anybody in particular?"
"Yes, sir. I suspect Donald MacTavish, the
second footman. I saw him with something
shiny in his hand last night, which he hastily
concealed when he saw me coming."
"That will be all, Luigi," said Holmes; "you
The valet looked like Mephistopheles, as he
glanced around with a triumphant expression
on his swarthy face, and left the room.
"Bring in Lord Launcelot's valet next,
Thorneycroft," said Holmes. "And we may as
well sit down, as the examination of this crowd
will take some time."
The Earl and the rest of us found chairs in
the drawing-room as Thorneycroft, looking
very important, hustled out in the corridor to
rope in the next victim. The constables had
the servants all considerably frightened, and
they stood around on one foot with mixed expressions
on their faces. In a moment the
other valet confronted us.
"State your name, age, previous place of employment,
and whether you have ever been arrested,"
commanded Holmes, who seemed to be
speeding up a little on his inquisition.
I wondered at my friend's somewhat more
nervous manner as he questioned the second
servant, until I noticed his old cocaine-squirter
being shoved gently back into his pocket with
his left hand, as he pointed his right forefinger
at the servant. Holmes had evidently just
sneaked in an extra shot in the arm without
any one's getting wise, and I, who knew him
of old, was sure that he would have a fit on for
"Peter Adrian Van Damm. Twenty-nine.
Pretorius Brothers' diamond-importing house
in Amsterdam, Holland. No, sir," replied the
valet, just as quickly as Holmes had questioned
"I see that you are not to be flustered,"
nodded Holmes approvingly; "also that you are
familiar with diamonds. What would you think
of a man who would steal the Earl's diamond
"I would say that he didn't show very good
taste. They are too large and crude. Not fit
to be worn to a prize-fight," answered Van
"Impudent fellow! I'll fire you for that,"
growled the Earl.
"Hold on, Your Lordship, we may need this
man later. Don't do anything rash. Thorneycroft,
send candid Peter out, and bring in the
first footman," Holmes commanded, consulting
a list of the servants, which the Earl had given
"What's your name, age, previous place of
employment, and prison-record,—if any?"
snapped Holmes impatiently, as he noticed the
obese face and low brow of the man before him.
"Why, er,—ah,—my name is Hegbert Bunbury,
sir. Hi ham forty-two years old. Hi
hused to work for the Duke of Bridgerswold, sir,
but Hi 'ave come down hin the world, sir, and
now Hi ham working for honly a hearl. Er,
what was that hother question you harsked me,
"I asked if you had any prison-record."
"Well, now, what a question, Mr. 'Olmes!
Do you really think that Hi would stoop so low
as to swipe 'Is Lawdship's cuff-buttons?"
"I didn't ask you whether you stole the cuff-buttons
or not. I'll find out soon enough
whether you did. What I want to know is
whether you have ever been arrested for anything
And Holmes scowled at the fat footman before
him, who fidgeted uneasily as he replied:
"Well, er,—ah, yes; Hi was put in chokey
once about ten years ago for lifting a diamond
stick-pin belonging to a fellow-servant when Hi
was working for the Duke of Bridgerswold; but
Hi gave it back to him, Hi hassure you Hi did,
"After they compelled you to, I suppose, by
the third degree," commented Holmes, as he
glanced meaningly at the Earl, who frowned
heavily at Bunbury. "Well, do you suspect anybody
here of stealing the cuff-buttons?"
A smile passed over the footman's face, as he
"Yes, sir; Hi 'ave no 'esitation whatever in
saying that Hi suspect Teresa Olivano, the
Countess's Spanish maid, of having stolen
"I think that I can account for that accusation,"
said Uncle Tooter to Holmes. "This fellow
Bunbury was recently rejected when he
proposed marriage to Teresa. Now, you beat
it out of here at once," he added, as he turned
to the footman, "and keep your fake suspicions
The bald-headed secretary led the discomfited
Egbert outside, and, at Holmes's request,
returned with Donald MacTavish, the second
"Well, Donald, I don't suppose it makes any
difference how old you are, and your name I
already know. I only asked those routine questions
of the first three servants to humor my
fat friend from Scotland Yard here, Inspector
Barnabas Letstrayed, who represents the slow
and beef-witted majesty of the London police."
And Holmes winked at me, as he added: "Now,
Mac, have you ever been in prison?"
The second footman, who seemed just as embarrassed
as the first footman had been, shifted
his feet uneasily and answered:
"Well, I suppose you might call it that, Mr.
Holmes. About three years ago, when I was
employed at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, I
was taken before the village squire and given
three days in jail for having been caught with
a bottle in my pocket."
"It isn't a crime in Scotland to carry a bottle,
is it?" said Holmes, grinning.
"No; but they claimed that it was half full
of Scotch 'smoke,' and that I had been found
totally unconscious up in the hayloft at the
time," said MacTavish, with downcast eyes.
"Whom do you suspect of having stolen the
The man from Balmoral brightened up, as he
"I am inclined to believe that my partner,
Egbert Bunbury, stole them, sir. When he
went to propose to Miss Olivano, the Countess's
maid, yesterday afternoon, I saw something
sparkling in his hand."
"Think he intended to give her a diamond
cuff-button, instead of a diamond ring, Donald?"
"Well, who can say? Perhaps he was going
to have it taken out, and then reset in a ring."
"You're an original cuss,—aren't you, Donald?
Also pretty good at passing the buck.
The Italian valet we examined first accused you
of having stolen the Earl's precious heirlooms.
Now, go and fight it out with him. Thorneycroft,
you may bring in the butler."
"Ah, that reminds me," said the Earl, "I
feel pretty dry. Harrigan, you may pour me
out a glass of wine before you answer any of
Mr. Holmes's questions," he added as the genial
butler stood before us.
When the Earl had been sufficiently refreshed
from a bottle that stood handy on a
nearby table, Holmes began:
"What is your full name?"
"I have no full name. Despite the fact that
I belong to the Bartenders' and Butlers' Union,
I am always sober," said Harrigan, with
"Well, Mr. Smart Alec, what's your entire
"Joseph Patrick Harrigan, and I can lick the
first son-of-a-gun that says I stole those darned
"Nobody said you stole 'em. Where were
you born, and how did such an able man as
yourself come to be working in this menagerie
"I was born in little old New York, in the
Ninth Ward. I used to be a waiter in a Bowery
hash-foundry, and afterwards graduated
into one of the Broadway lobster-palaces. I
have the reputation of being one of the best
living judges of rare wines; and the Earl has
said many a time that he could not possibly do
without my talents."
"Is that the reason the Earl hired you,—because
you are so good at looking upon the
grape-juice when it is red?" asked Holmes with
a smile, as he winked at His Lordship.
"Your perspicacity is marvelous, Mr.
Holmes," replied Harrigan. "My reputation
having crossed the ocean, through the men who
knew me on Broadway coming over to visit
friends in London, the Earl heard of me, and
cabled me my expenses and an offer of double
the salary I was getting there; so I snapped it
up immediately, and here I am, in full charge of
the ancient Puddingham wine-cellars."
And Harrigan cleared his throat, threw out
his chest, and winked at me.
"Well, Joe," continued Holmes, "what do
you know about the lost and lamented cuff-buttons,—if
"Not a darned thing, and that's the Gospel
truth. And as to whom I may possibly suspect
of having cabbaged them, I'll come right out
flat-footed and say that I wouldn't put it past
a single person in the place, with the sole exceptions
of Louis La Violette, the French cook,
Heinie Blumenroth, the German gardener, and
myself! Nothing backward about me, you
know. I lay the whole crowd under a blanket
suspicion, on general principles; and I'll say,
furthermore, that I have particular reason to
suspect Bunbury, the first footman, of having
stolen the cuff-buttons, because he tried to steal
a necktie from my room last week, and I only
caught him in the nick of time, helping him out
of the room with a couple of well-placed kicks!"
"It's sad, indeed, Harrigan," said Holmes,
"to contemplate what one's fellow-man will
stoop to. Well, I guess I'll excuse you from any
further questions. Thorneycroft, call in His
Excellency, Monsieur La Violette, the Chief
Cook of this noble castle."
"Harrigan, you may pour me out another
glass of wine," interposed the Earl before the
butler had a chance to leave the room.
After His Lordship had been refreshed and
Harrigan had departed, the Earl said to
"Now go on with the bad news. Let's see
what kind of an alibi Louis the soup-maker,
pancake-tosser, and egg-breaker, has to offer."
And he nudged the fatuous Inspector Letstrayed
in the ribs. That worthy, who had
been thoughtfully regarding the ceiling for some
time, jumped back in surprise.
Just then Thorneycroft returned with the
cook,—a short, fat, and irascible-looking man,
with black eyes that seemed to snap fire as he
returned the stare of the phlegmatic Letstrayed,
black hair, and a black mustache and imperial,
à la Napoleon III.
"Ah, Monsieur La Violette, what do you
know concerning the recent sad affair here at
the castle,—the theft of the diamond cuff-buttons,
you know?" said Holmes, as the Frenchman
"The diamond cuff-buttons, I know, eh?
Sacré bleu!" shouted the Frenchman, his face
blazing red with anger, as he nearly hit the ceiling
in his wrath. "You mean to insinuate that
I know where they are, you—you! If you were
a gentleman, I'd challenge you to a duel for
"Here, here, keep your shirt on a minute,
Louis," Holmes advised reassuringly. "I
didn't mean to insinuate anything at all. I was
just looking for information."
La Violette regarded Hemlock Holmes for a
moment with the bitterest disdain, then he answered:
"Well, if you're such a smart and sagacious
detective as you have been cracked up to be,
you could ascertain who pilfered those accursed
cuff-buttons without using such common methods
as lining up the servants, and asking them
if they stole them or not. Any one of the servants
is likely to be guilty, except only Harrigan,
Blumenroth, and myself. All the others are
unspeakable imbeciles! Go ahead, then, and
get your information, without casting your
despicable insinuations upon me."
Holmes shrugged his shoulders, and looked
at the Earl.
Barnabas Letstrayed at this point evidently
thought it was up to him to pull off something;
and he did,—more than he thought.
"Er, Hi say," he began, with great importance,
as he motioned to the cook's cuffs,
"aren't those the lost cuff-buttons this fellow is
wearing now? They look just like them, Hi
Every one stared at La Violette's cuffs, and
that worthy nearly had an apoplectic fit, as the
Earl, after having taken one look at the cook's
jewelry, leaned back in his chair and laughed.
"Say, Inspector, those aren't the lost Puddingham
cuff-buttons by some lengths. They're
diamonds, all right, but the resemblance ends
there. The stolen ones are at least twelve times
bigger; that's all."
And the Earl laughed again.
Louis La Violette didn't laugh, however, but
made a mad rush at the obese police inspector
from London, who had so grievously and
wrongly accused him.
"Pig-dog, scoundrel, liar!" he yelled at the
top of his voice. "I'll carve you up into ribbons
for that! Take that, you big heap of over-grown
And the infuriated Gaul launched a blow with
his fist at Letstrayed that knocked that astonished
person out of his chair and tumbled him
flat on the floor, with the chair upside down on
top of him.
"Here, don't let's have another attempted
murder in the castle, La Violette," remonstrated
Holmes, as he pulled back the enraged
cook from a further assault on Letstrayed;
"contain yourself. Letstrayed is only a rumdum,
anyhow, as I have found out from long
experience with him. He's always making bad
breaks like that. You really mustn't mind
Louis shook off Holmes's grasp, and faced
the Earl, crying out:
"But I will mind him. I have been insulted.
I shall avenge it. I shall throw up my job, and
return instantly to that dear Paris! Why did
I ever leave it?"
"Good Heavens, Louis!" shouted the Earl in
alarm, "you mustn't think of doing that! I
couldn't get along without you and Harrigan,
the butler. Doggone it, Inspector," he added,
as that personage slowly and painfully arose
from the floor and brushed himself off, "now
you have done it. Offended the chef,—and the
best chef in the whole country, too! You'd better
go outside, and take a walk for your health
until Louis cools off. Your further presence
here will only tend to aggravate him. Louis,
I'll double your salary if you'll agree to stay.
It wasn't my fault, you know."
"Well, all right, Your Lordship," agreed La
Violette, after some hesitation, "I guess I'll
pocket my outraged pride, also the one hundred
per cent increase in salary, and let you
have the further benefit of my services. But
I want it distinctly understood by every one
present," he added, as he faced around to the
others, "that I wouldn't have those pestiferous
Puddingham cuff-buttons as a gift! Comprenez
vous cela, Mr. Hemlock Holmes of Baker
Street, London, and Broadway, New York?"
"Yes, I get you, Louis," replied Holmes, as
he glanced at his watch impatiently. "It's five
minutes after ten already, and the diamond
baubles haven't been found yet. If you'll
kindly stand aside, and let somebody else without
such a large supply of easily outrageable
pride have the floor, I'll examine them."
The Frenchman, with a sniff and with head
in air, walked out of the library; and my friend
summoned in the seventh servant so far, the
Russian second cook.
"Well, what's your name, stupid?" snapped
Holmes, as a colorless-looking fellow with vacant
eyes stood before us.
"Ivan Galetchkoff. I was born in Tikhorietzkaia,
Northern Caucasia, I work as second
cook in the Earl's kitchen, and I can tell you
just who stole his cuff-buttons; so I can!"
"Well, this is interesting, if true," commented
Holmes. "And whom do you accuse as
the guilty miscreant, Ivan?"
"I accuse that black scoundrel Vermicelli,
the Earl's valet. Oh, how I hate him, with his
smooth and slippery ways, and his air of superiority
over me, because he helps the Earl on
and off with his silk shirts, and I mix the hash
in the kitchen!" replied Ivan.
"Well, that's hardly valid ground for accusing
him of the robbery,—don't you think?" said
"No; but I have other reasons, all right.
Vermicelli is the guy who attends to the Earl
in his bedroom, and he was the last man to see
the diamond cuff-buttons as His Lordship retired
Sunday night. Therefore, he certainly
stole them. I guess it doesn't take a London
detective to dope that out. Why didn't you
search his room the very first thing?"
And Galetchkoff looked about him with an
air of triumph.
"Evidently this subject of the Czar didn't observe
his object of suspicion going around with
something shiny in his hand, as the others did.
Call in the next boob," said Holmes.
The Russian hash-mixer departed, and a very
charming black-eyed señorita from sunny
Spain stood before us.
"What is your name, madam?" said Holmes,
with some embarrassment, since, as I have observed
before in the course of our mutual adventures,
he was a confirmed bachelor, and
didn't like women.
"Teresa Olivano, from Seville, sir. I am Her
Ladyship the Countess's maid, sir," she replied,
with a bewitching smile at my misogynist
"Er, ah,—well, what do you know about the
stolen cuff-buttons, if anything? Of course, I
don't mean to insinuate that you had a hand
She smiled again, and replied:
"I am quite sure that you will find the Earl's
stolen jewelry upon the person or concealed in
the room of Adelaide Meerckenloo, the second
chambermaid. I happened to overhear her
whispering to Natalie Nishovich, the first chambermaid,
last night, about some 'diamonds,' and
they abruptly stopped talking, and acted
greatly embarrassed, when I came into the
room where they were."
"Is that all you know about it?" said Holmes.
"Well, I should think it was enough. That
Adelaide is a regular old cat, and I am positive
she stole the diamond cuff-buttons. If you
don't want to take my word for it, then don't!"
And the Spanish lady walked out with a toss of
"Everybody accuses everybody else. This is
getting to be a joke," said Holmes, with a scowl
at me, which was quite undeserved, as I hadn't
been doing anything.
"Bring in the next victim, the first chambermaid,"
Eustace Thorneycroft, who had been acting
as a sort of bailiff for Holmes's court of inquisition,
now brought in a girl with the same
sort of lack of intelligence on her face as had
distinguished the Russian Galetchkoff.
"What's your name, there?" said Holmes.
"Natalie Nishovich, and I used to work in
King Alexander of Servia's royal palace in
Belgrade before his sudden death nine years
"Well, Natalie, have you seen the diamond
cuff-buttons lying around loose anywhere?"
"No, sir; but I have an idea that that conceited
Spanish girl that just walked out of here
stole them,—Teresa Olivano, I mean."
"Hum, have you overheard her talking about
the diamonds, or is it just on general principles?"
asked Holmes, as Tooter frowned severely
at the chambermaid.
"Just on general principles. I don't like her
"All right. Good-by. You've said enough.
Call in the next one," ordered Holmes; adding:
"They all seem to belong to the 'I-used-to-be'
club. You certainly have combed the world
looking for variegated characters, Earl. I suppose
the next one will be a Chinaman or a Patagonian."
But it wasn't; only a Belgian girl, with dark
eyes that couldn't look Holmes straight in the
face as he questioned her.
"What's your name, previous place of employment,
and opinion as to the present location
of the stolen cuff-buttons?"
"My name is Adelaide Meerckenloo, and I
used to be maid to the late Queen of Belgium.
I think the man who stole the Earl's diamonds
is Peter Van Damm, Lord Launcelot's valet.
He used to work for a diamond firm in Amsterdam,
Holland; so he would know best how to
dispose of them."
"Which is about as good a reason for your
suspicions as the others gave for theirs. You're
excused, Addie. Next," said Holmes.
"Well, you don't need to bite my head off
about it," grumbled Addie, as she went out,
and her place was taken by a cheerful and rubicund
coachman, the same one who had driven
us up from the station the day before.
"What's your name, antecedents, and knowledge
as to the diamond-theft?" Holmes demanded.
"Vell, Ay bane Olaf Yensen, from Aalesund,
Norvay. Ay bane the Earl's first coachman.
Und Ay suspect strongly that my partner out
at das stables, Carol Linescu, sviped das Earl's
cuff-buttons. Ay saw das rascal hiding someding
in das hay up in the loft last evening, und
Ay bet you, by Golly, that if you yump on him,
you vill find that he is das tief. So!"
And the fat little coachman looked around
with a cherubic smile on his face.
"All right, Yensie, maybe we will. You're
The man who had just been accused of the
robbery was now presented by the secretary.
He formed a marked contrast to his partner,—being
tall, dark and slender, with a hangdog expression
on his face.
"What's your name, and what have you got
to say about the disappearance of the diamonds?"
pursued the relentless inquisitor.
"Carol Linescu. I used to run a livery
stable in Bucharest, Roumania. The guy who
stole the diamonds is that fat little loafer Olaf
Yensen, the first coachman. I am the second
coachman. He must be the guilty one because
last week he tried to swipe my best pair of
boots while I was asleep."
"Terrible, ain't it? Any other reason?
No?—All right, Carol, beat it. Next! Now
shoot 'em along quick, Thorney," Holmes said
to the secretary, as the Roumanian went out,
and a heavy-set man with blond hair, whose
blue eyes blazed fiercely behind his spectacles,
"Your name, please. And what do you know
about the diamonds?"
"Heinrich Blumenroth, formerly of His Majesty
the King of Bavaria's royal gardens at
Munich, Germany. I don't know who stole the
diamonds, but I can say that any one in the place
is likely to have stolen them, except Harrigan,
La Violette, and myself. We are the only three
that are worth a darn. Nothing else, is there?
I'd like to get back to the gardens. Very busy
And the first gardener turned on his heel,
whereupon Holmes remarked with a grin:
"Sorry to have troubled you, Herr Blumenroth.
You're all right. You're exonerated.
A short and swarthy fellow entered, who
looked like a bandit.
"Well, what's your name, anyhow? Where
did you drop from, and what do you know about
this affair?" queried Holmes.
"Demetrius Xanthopoulos. I am the second
gardener, and I used to work in the King
of Greece's gardens at Corfu. I think that La
Violette, the chef, is the man who stole the cuff-buttons.
He's entirely too supercilious, and
kicks me out of the kitchen every time I try to
get in after a hand-out!"
"All right. If I were Louis I'd do the same.
Beat it. Next!"
"Er, ah,——I beg pardon, Holmes, you have
now examined all of the servants. Fourteen of
them, you know," said Thorneycroft.
"Oh, yes. That's right," said Holmes, as
he consulted the list in his hand; "but you people
here will have to be examined too,—every
one of you. No excuses, now," he added, as the
Earl started to object. "You hired me to find
those stolen cuff-buttons, and by thunder, I'm
going to find them, no matter who it hits!
Thorneycroft, what do you know as to the probable
The perspiration stood out on the secretary's
bald head, and he stammered greatly as he replied:
"Well, er,—ah, you know, that is——"
"Come, come! Don't keep me waiting all
day. Speak up."
"Well, if you must know, I think that the
Earl's Italian valet, Luigi Vermicelli, is the
man. He was the last man near the cuff-buttons
when the Earl retired Sunday night."
"Yes, that's what Galetchkoff said. I should
think that you'd show greater originality than
that, Eustace. Lord Launcelot, I shall have to
question you as to your opinion on the robbery."
"Well, I think that Pete Van Damm took 'em,—my
valet, you know. Entirely too fresh, that
fellow. Thinks he knows more than I do, bah
"Wouldn't be at all surprised if he did,"
muttered Holmes under his breath, adding
aloud: "Mr. Tooter, you are the Countess's
uncle, I believe. What do you know about the
"Mr. Holmes, I don't like to say it, because
he's an awfully good fellow, but between you
and me, I think that Joe Harrigan, the butler,
swiped the diamonds," answered the elderly
man from India. "He gets pretty well soused
sometimes, as I have observed, and you know
that a man in that condition is likely to do almost
"Under the same principle, then, you may be
guilty also, Uncle Tooter," interposed the Earl,
"because you know blamed well that I've caught
both you and Harrigan down in the wine-cellar
many a time since you've been here. I guess
that'll be about all from you."
The India merchant subsided, and Holmes
turned to Billie Hicks. "Mr. Hicks of Canada,
what do you say about it?"
"Unquestionably the guilty man is that Russian
scoundrel Ivan Galetchkoff," replied
Hicks, "he put pepper in the charlotte russe at
dinner on Sunday, and I nearly choked on it.
A man who would do that would steal sheep!"
"Well, Mr. Budd of Australia, we'll hear
from you," said Holmes, as he stretched out
his arms and yawned.
"Sorry as I am to say it, Mr. Holmes, there
stands the guilty wretch!" and Mr. Budd
pointed dramatically at the fidgeting and uneasy
Thorneycroft. "I saw him come out of
the Earl's room late Sunday night at an hour
when all good citizens should be in bed."
"You're entirely mistaken, Budd, I assure
you," said Thorneycroft nervously. "I am as
innocent as you are, and you know it. I just
went into His Lordship's room Sunday night
to get my pocket-comb."
Holmes grinned as he looked at the secretary's
more or less bald pate, and said:
"I don't see what you want with a comb,
Thorney. But we'll give your alibi due consideration,
nevertheless. Well, I guess I've
questioned everybody in the castle now, Your
Lordship, including the mutual admiration society
formed by Harrigan, La Violette and Blumenroth."
And Holmes turned an inquiring countenance
to the Earl.
"Er, well, not exactly, Holmes. You haven't
interrogated the Countess and myself," smiled
"By George, that's right! Here, somebody,
get the Countess in here."
In a moment the mistress of Normanstow
Towers stood before us. She gave a sniff of
disdain as she looked at her brother-in-law,
"I beg pardon, Your Ladyship, but what do
you know concerning this sad affair?" asked
Holmes politely,—that is to say, politely for
The Countess regarded Launcelot with a
frown, as she replied:
"I am practically certain that the man who
has brought this disgrace upon our ancient family
is Lord Launcelot, the Earl's own brother.
He was entirely in too much of a hurry to get
away from here yesterday morning to rush into
London to tell you about it. He did it just to
cover up his own theft."
"These family jars do beat the dickens," said
Holmes, scratching his head in perplexity,
while the Countess sailed out of the room, very
much on her dignity. "Your Lordship, what's
your own opinion as to the robbery?"
"Oh, good night! Don't ask me. I give it
up. Let's all have a drink, and then adjourn
somewhere else. The air is getting kind of
close in here, after all these hot accusations.
Harrigan," the Earl added, turning to the butler,
who had just returned from the corridor,
"pour us out one or two glasses of wine, or
three or four of them. Drink up, gentlemen,—you,
too, Letstrayed." And the Earl winked
After we had all imbibed freely of the blood
of the grape the Earl then led the way out to
the front door. Inspector Letstrayed seemed
to have something in his noodle, and after much
cogitation he finally came out with it.
"Er, Hi say, Mr. 'Olmes," he blurted out,
"you have forgotten to search any of the servants,
to see whether or not they have the diamond
cuff-buttons concealed about their persons,
"Say, Letstrayed, for the love of Mike, don't
interrupt me again with your well-meant but
rattle-headed advice, or I'll be liable to forget
myself and commit murder on the premises.
I'm running this show, not you,—gol darn it!"
And Holmes ground his teeth as he added:
"The idea of Letstrayed being chump enough
to think that the servants, if they have stolen
the diamonds, would risk discovery so boldly
as to carry them around with them!—and besides,
the village constables searched them yesterday.
It's a cinch he owes his appointment
as Inspector at Scotland Yard to a political
pull, and not to his merit!"
The sky looked rather changeable as we all
passed out by the great main entrance of Normanstow
Towers, and went down the broad
stone stairway to the lawn, alternately clouding
over and then letting the fugitive April sun
"Ah, fickle Springtime, it's just like a
woman!" said Uncle Tooter, with a deep-drawn
sigh that must have come all the way up from
"Well, what's eating him, the old duffer, I
wonder?" growled Holmes. "Is he falling in
love, at his age?"
"He's dippy over that Spanish maid, Teresa
Olivano, and I hear that she has refused him
twice," whispered the Earl so that only Holmes
and myself could hear him.
"For Heaven's sake, don't mention it in the
Countess's hearing, because she's simply wild
over her bachelor uncle being in love with a
servant, both on account of the social disgrace,
and because, if Uncle Tooter married Teresa,
she and I would lose a large part of the inheritance
that we expect when the old boy finally
cashes in. He's worth over forty million
dollars, or eight million pounds, all made in the
tea and spice business in India and Ceylon."
"Well, what gets me is why this Teresa ever
turned him down, then, instead of jumping at
the offer the first time he proposed," said
Holmes, with a grin. "Forty million cold bones
don't grow on every bush, you know."
"Teresa is a rather peculiar girl, Holmes, and
what would attract others doesn't attract her,"
replied the Earl.
"Very, very peculiar, I'll say," commented
Holmes cynically, as the Countess, Tooter,
Hicks, Budd, Letstrayed, Lord Launcelot, and
Thorneycroft stopped at the edge of the wide-spreading
lawn on observing its wetness.
"Come on, everybody, let's take a little stroll
around these beautiful ancestral acres. A few
rain-drops won't hurt you."
And, so saying, the masterful detective
grabbed the Earl and me by the arm and signalled
to the others to accompany us.
"I have a motive for doing this, Earl," whispered
Holmes to the latter, as the rest of the
party reluctantly followed us, "which I will
let you in on later."
I consented to be hauled around over the
drenched grass by my domineering partner, as
I knew from long experience that he was liable
to do almost anything while on a mystery-hunt,
and I accordingly kept my mouth closed. Billie
Budd had his hat knocked off by a low-hanging
limb of a tree that we passed under, and he let
out a few choice Australian cuss-words that he
had learned at the Ballarat gold mines, as he
scowled at Hemlock Holmes, the author of this
unaccountable promenade in the wet grass.
"Say, what do you think you're doing, anyhow,
Mr. Smart-Alec from London,—adopting
the Kneipp cure?" he growled.
"Don't you worry, Budd old boy, maybe I'll
find the lost diamond cuff-buttons out here in
the grass. The robbers may have dropped
them here as they fled," answered Holmes smilingly,
as he slapped the Earl on the back.
"Yes, and, then, again, they may not. I'll
just bet you a five-pound note, Holmes, that you
don't recover a single one of the eleven cuff-buttons
to-day," said Budd.
"Done!" shouted my partner. "Doc Watson,
you hold the stakes," he added, turning to me;
"here's my five."
"And here's my five," said Budd, with a
smile, as he handed me a five-pound note to
"That's it. I'm always the goat," I grumbled,
as I shoved the kale in my pocket. "Here
I am with the responsibility of keeping ten
pounds of other people's money safely, while
Holmes cops all the limelight!"
"Cheer up, Watson, old boy," said Holmes.
"Here,—have a cigarette! Now, I think we've
seen about enough of this lovely Puddingham
lawn," he added as he calmly surveyed the wide
green expanse that stretched for four hundred
feet out from the front of the castle to the road
and for three hundred feet on each side of the
massive pile, dotted here and there with trees
and incipient flower-beds, on the latter of
which Heinrich Blumenroth had been exercising
his skill, planting spring flowers. "So I guess
we'll go back inside, and consider the case of
the lost jewels further," continued Holmes.
And the whole nine of us obligingly trudged
after him like sheep after the bellwether, and
reëntered the castle.
It was now after eleven o'clock, and nothing
in the shape of a diamond cuff-button had
turned up yet, but I was not surprised, because
I knew that Hemlock Holmes had not yet put in
his best licks,—that is to say, had not yet
pulled off any of his deepest cogitations and deductions.
Just as I happened to see him slipping
his little old cocaine-squirter back in his
pocket after a surreptitious shot in the arm
(while our party was entering the drawing-room
on the left side of the front corridor),
Lord Launcelot evidently thought it incumbent
upon him to kid Holmes for the lack of results
so far; but he hadn't spoken more than a few
words of his would-be witty remarks when
Holmes turned and barked at him like a terrier.
"Say, you, lord or no lord, you'll have to
chop out the funny remarks on my method of
handling this case, or else I'll drop the whole
thing right here," he flung at the surprised
Launcelot. "I can't stand this eternal butting-in
while I'm trying to think!"
The Earl warned Launcelot to cease the comedy,
and then Holmes motioned all of them except
me out of the room, saying that he had
some deep thought on hand that would take up
at least two hours, and that we shouldn't be
called to luncheon until a quarter after one.
My stomach rebelled at this, but my head knew
better than to oppose the old boy when he had
a thought-tantrum on.
Billie Hicks,—he from Canada,—was the last
one to go, and as he was leaving he hurled this
Parthian shot at Holmes:
"Now go ahead and try to think, Holmes.
Maybe you'll succeed in the attempt!"
Holmes threw a book at him, which narrowly
missed Hicks as he banged the door shut behind
him, and my partner immediately locked the
door, put the key in his pocket, pulled a couple
of cushions off a couch, placed them on the
piano, perched himself up on top of the improvised
seat, with his feet on the ivory keys, and
then calmly proceeded to fill his well-worn pipe
with some of that strong-smelling shag tobacco
that he generally used when he started a meditation,
or pipe-dream, just as you prefer to
I knew what was coming, so I opened one of
the windows all the way up, to let out the terrific
fumes of the uncivilized stuff that he
smoked, while he curled himself up comfortably
in his strange position on top of the piano,
with his chin resting on one hand, and his elbow
on some sheet-music, and then smoked away
like a steam-engine, as immovable as a bronze
statue, while he thought and pondered and meditated,
and then thought some more, about the
stolen diamond cuff-buttons,—with me all the
time sitting on the couch like a bump on a log,
trying my best to figure out the conflicting testimony
advanced by the fourteen different servants
and the seven other persons.
Time rolled on, and the clock on the marble
mantel struck half-past eleven,—twelve,—half-past
twelve,—one,—and at length came to a
quarter past one, while I couldn't dope out who
swiped the cuff-buttons to save my neck!
"I've got it!" shouted Holmes suddenly, as
he jumped off the piano, scattering the sheet-music
right and left, and paced up and down
in front of the mantel, while I heaved a sigh of
"Time for luncheon, ain't it, Holmesy, old
boy?" I questioned.
"Yes. Sure, Watson. I'm hungry, too, after
all that heavy thought. We'll go in and have
luncheon now, and then we'll get some swift action."
Thereupon Holmes led the way to the dining-room,
where the others awaited us.
And so we did get some swift action, but not
exactly what Holmes had expected, sad to relate.
To all adroit inquiries on the part of the
Earl as to what he had deduced, Holmes returned
a smiling and evasive answer during the
elaborate luncheon, which proceeded to the end,—when
the finger-bowls were brought on,—without
As my partner deftly massaged his long
tapering digits in the perfumed water, he
leaned over and whispered to Inspector Letstrayed,
who sat next to him. Letstrayed's eyes
bulged out, and Holmes then arose, pushed his
chair back, inserted his left thumb in the left
armhole of his vest, expanded his chest, cleared
his throat, and pointed his right fore-finger
dramatically at Billie Budd at the other end of
the table, as he said:
"Inspector Letstrayed, do your duty! There
stands the guilty wretch!"
As Holmes finished, the man from Scotland
Yard quietly got up, also cleared his throat,
waddled around the table in a very pompous
manner, placed his fat left hand on Budd's
shoulder, and said solemnly, in that sepulchral
tone of voice that he generally adopted for such
"William X. Budd, it now becomes my painful
duty to arrest you in the Queen's name—er,
no, I mean the King's (that's right, old Vic
is dead now),—to arrest you in the King's name
for the following high crimes and misdemeanors,
contrary to the statutes made and in such
cases provided, to wit: Burglary, Robbery,
Conspiracy, Assault and Battery, and Attempted
Murder! It is also my duty to inform
you that anything you may say will be used
against you, as usual, you know! Now come
with me quietly!"
"Aw, what the Sam Hill are you giving us,
you old dub? I never did anything to you to
have you call me names like that!" shouted
Budd, and he instantly wrenched himself loose
from Letstrayed's none too muscular grasp,
and ran at top speed out of the room and down
the long corridor outside, upsetting the contents
of his finger-bowl all over the leather seat of
his fancy chair.
The Countess promptly had hysterics, and
then fainted in the arms of her gaping brother-in-law,
Lord Launcelot, while everybody else,
except Holmes, myself, and the Earl, grew red
and white by turns; and Uncle Tooter, in attempting
to arise suddenly, fell out of his chair
and tumbled on the floor in a very undignified
"Holy smoke! Don't let him get away like
that, you pack of rummies! Get up and chase
him!" shouted Holmes in great excitement, as
he pulled a revolver out of his hip-pocket and
dashed madly out of the room after the fleeing
and recreant Budd, while the rest of us, galvanized
back to life by the sudden developments,
took after the great detective down the corridor,
in the way that they generally do in the
movies, all hollering: "Stop—thief!" at the
top of our voices.
Bang! Bang! Holmes shot twice at Budd,
but the bullets went wild, and we all continued
the chase through the kitchen, down the rear
stairway, and out through the wide gardens between
the castle and the stables, while Louis La
Violette, the French cook, cursed us volubly in
his best Parisian for disturbing him.
Budd was a pretty good runner, so he was
about a hundred feet ahead of us when Holmes
dashed up to the open front door of the Earl's
great stone stable-building. He took another
shot at Budd as the latter fled up the stairs to
the hay-loft, and then disappeared suddenly,
thus frightening the eight horses in their stalls
at the rear, who neighed loudly, while Holmes
and the rest of us piled up the stairs after him,
like a pack of dogs after a rabbit!
When we got up to the loft we found that it
covered the entire upper floor of the building;
was at least two hundred feet long by a hundred
and fifty feet wide, and except for a small
space just around the head of the stairs, was
filled up eight feet deep with odorous hay and
piles of straw.
Of course, not a trace of that scoundrel Budd
was to be seen. He was evidently somewhere
under the hay, because the shuttered windows
were too high up for him to have made his escape
through them in the short time that had
elapsed; and the pigeons that roosted around
on the rafters cooed their darned heads off just
as if they didn't know that a desperate crook
was concealed somewhere beneath the wide-spreading
piles of hay.
Holmes ground his teeth with rage as he recognized
his temporary defeat by the resourceful
guy from Australia, and it was a good thing
the Countess was still back in the castle being
assisted out of her fainting-spell by her Spanish
maid Teresa, because the language that
Hemlock Holmes used as he called down imprecations
on the head of the hay-hidden Budd
was frightful to hear!
"Gol darn it!" he said, when he had somewhat
recovered his usual equanimity; "this is
certainly the first and only time in my life that
I've been held up and stalled by such a common
thing as a load of hay! What in thunder did
you ever get in such an enormous lot of the
darned stuff for, anyhow?" he demanded, turning
to the Earl. "I should think there was
enough hay in here to feed a regiment of horses
for three years!"
"Well, you don't need to take it out on me,
Holmes," returned the Earl with some asperity.
"How could I foresee that some one would
steal my cuff-buttons and then run up here and
hide in the hay? I bought the hay two months
ago, when prices were lower than they are now,
so I got a lot of it, anticipating the rise in
prices that has followed since then; and I also
bought a large lot of corn, oats, bran, and so
on, which I keep downstairs. You're getting
to be rather unreasonable, don't you think?"
Holmes didn't reply, but stood there contemplating
the great piles of hay and straw in silent
wrath, while the hidden Budd was probably
smiling to himself somewhere underneath.
Lord Launcelot, who was watching the chagrined
expression on Holmes's face, leaned
back against the wall and said:
"Oh, Gee! I have to laugh! This is the
funniest thing I've seen for a long time!"
"It is, eh?" shouted Holmes, dashing at
Launcelot. "Now, you beat it! You've been
warned before not to interrupt while I'm thinking."
And he grabbed Launcelot by the arm and
hustled him down the stairs, then returned and
faced the Earl.
"Well, it would certainly be an endless job
to try to dig Budd out of all this hay, Your
Lordship," he said, "so we'll adopt some strategy,
and starve him out. We'll have Inspector
Letstrayed watch the loft here at the head of
the stairs, as I see this is the only way out,
have his dinner brought to him this evening,
while he stands guard, and then I'll stand guard
through the night, for I can keep awake better
than Fatty can. Then we'll keep up the sentinel
business all day to-morrow, if necessary,
Letstrayed and I relieving each other, till we
finally force that robber to come out and beg
for food,—when we'll nab him! How does that
sound for a scheme?"
"It listens well, Holmes,—that is, if Letstrayed
doesn't make a mess of it," said the
"Woe to him if he does, I can tell you." And
Holmes glared at the obese inspector, who sat
on the top step trying to get his breath back
after the hard race out from the castle. "But
then, I don't see how he can. Right here is the
only place where Budd could get out, and I'll
give Letstrayed my revolver to use instead of
his own, since mine is a little bit quicker on the
trigger. Here, Barney," he added as he
turned to the Inspector, "take my six-shooter,
and I'll take yours. Now see that you don't
spill the beans, like you've done before, and
stand guard faithfully this afternoon till six
o'clock, when we'll bring your dinner out to
you, and if William X. Budd tries to break away
from under the horse-feed, why, you know what
to do with your little cannon there!"
"Well, all right, fellows, I'll be the goat if
you'll send down to the village and telegraph
in to headquarters in London now, telling them
where I am. Say, Earl, haven't you got a pack
of cigarettes about your person that isn't working?"
asked Letstrayed, as he took up his station
on a particularly soft pile of hay nearby,
and stretched his fat legs over it comfortably.
"What! Smoke cigarettes up here in the hay,
and burn down my ancestral stables for me!"
shouted the Earl in surprise. "Good night!
You've got about as much brains as Holmes
says you have, Letstrayed. But here, I realize
that it'll be pretty lonesome up here watching
for a hidden crook with nobody but a lot
of pigeons for company, so you can take this
package of fine-cut, and chew to your heart's
content. Good-by, now."
Barnabas took the proffered pack of chewing
tobacco, and sighed deeply.
"Well, good-by. If you hear any shooting,
you'll know it's me," he said, as he took a big
mouthful of the fine-cut.
And so we left him to his afternoon vigil,
after Holmes had taken a look at the bulldog
chained up near the horses downstairs,—and
returning to the castle we all entered the library,
where the Earl called the butler, and
"Harrigan, you may pour us out each a glass
Harrigan smilingly agreed, and after we had
all imbibed, the Earl and Uncle Tooter played
chess on the great mahogany table in the center
of the room; Holmes and Thorneycroft
started a game of checkers, as did Lord Launcelot
and myself, sitting on the leather-covered
divans in the broad bay-window, while Billie
Hicks sprawled himself out in a comfortable
arm-chair at one side. The Countess did not
appear, being still upstairs in her own room
with her maid Teresa, and the various servants
were scattered through the numerous rooms of
the castle engaged in their various duties.
So the afternoon passed,—from a little after
two o'clock, when we returned from the stables,
until ten minutes after five, when suddenly two
loud shots split the silence, coming from the
direction of the rear of the castle.
"Ha! There he is now!" yelled Holmes, as
he jumped up instantly, knocking the checkerboard
and all the pieces into the lap of the astonished
Thorneycroft, and ran out into the corridor,
shouting to us to accompany him.
Holmes had pretty long legs, and he distanced
the rest of us while we did another Marathon
out to the stables, with the servants staring at
us out of the back windows. I hate to have to
tell it, but the sight that met our eyes in the
hay-loft was honestly enough to make an archangel
There, stretched out flat on his back on the
hay-littered floor near the top of the stairs,
bound and gagged, and snoring in the deepest
slumber, lay our luckless friend, Inspector Barnabas
Holmes turned pale with rage, and then he
"Asleep at the switch! And Billie Budd far
away by this time! Grab me, fellows, quick,
before I forget myself and murder him where
he lies! Oh, horrors!"
And he began to swear in French, which, as
I have remarked in one of our previous adventures,
was his mother's native tongue, to which
he resorted when so excited that he couldn't
express himself further in English.
The Earl and I untied the ropes that bound
the sleeping Letstrayed, removed the gag from
his mouth, which consisted of another piece of
rope, and shook him to his feet, where he stood
blinking in surprise, while Holmes leaned
against the nearest wall and shook his fists in
the air, while he made the air blue with variegated
"Let's leave them alone, boys, and return to
the castle, while the master-mind and his faithless
guard have it out between themselves,"
suggested the Earl.
Whereupon we all followed him quietly back
to the library, filled with mixed emotions.
When we were back again in the seats from
which we had recently been so sharply disturbed,
the Earl said to me:
"Well, Doctor Watson, what do you make of
it? You've had a good deal of experience with
the great detective. Tell us what you think."
"What I think of Inspector Letstrayed
wouldn't look very well in print," I began; "but
it's easy enough to see what happened. The
old dope fell asleep, so, of course, as soon as
Budd heard those elephantine snores, he
sneaked out from his hiding-place under the hay
and tied him up with the ropes while he slept,
took his revolver away from him, shot it off
twice out of pure bravado, and then beat it for
parts unknown. If he's as good a runner yet
as he was this noon, he must be over in the next
county by this time! Of course, it couldn't
have been Letstrayed who shot the revolver off,
because we found him still asleep and snoring;
and he couldn't have shot first at Budd and
then have been overpowered by the latter, because
he didn't have time enough in the short
minute between our hearing the shots and racing
out there to have fallen asleep again, especially
when he was tied up so tightly. I think
you will find that I am right,—when Holmes returns
with the information he has pried out of
Holmes returned soon afterward, still fuming
and growling over his second setback of
the day, with Letstrayed trailing along behind
him, looking like a flour-sack that had been
stepped on! The latter sat down quietly, without
a word, and Holmes corroborated my deductions.
He said Letstrayed told him he
didn't know a thing about what had taken place
until we untied the ropes from him; for he had
fallen asleep in his too comfortable position on
the pile of hay, and had not been awakened even
by the shots.
"I'm so mad I could chew nails," said
Holmes. "The only thing I can do now is to
send a telegram down to the village to be dispatched
to the authorities in all the surrounding
towns, asking them to apprehend Budd
when he shows up. Can your secretary here
be trusted to send the messages right, Earl?"
He sized up the bald-headed Thorneycroft
with a critical eye, as he spoke, and suddenly
changed his mind.
"No. I'll go down to Hedge-gutheridge myself
and send the telegrams. Then I know it'll
be done right, without a third balling-up. Ta,
ta! I'll be back in half an hour."
And my erratic partner was out of the building
before we hardly knew what had happened.
At a quarter of six he returned, somewhat
out of breath, and announced that we might as
well sit down to dinner, since he would not resume
operations until morning. The Earl
quietly accepted his tacit assumption of mastery
of the castle, since he recognized by this
time that Hemlock Holmes simply had to have
his own way while on a case, or else he wouldn't
The dinner as prepared by Louis La Violette,—and
served by Joe Harrigan the butler,—was
fully as scrumptious and all to the mustard as
the one we had partaken of the evening before,
and so was the wine served afterwards. We
passed the evening in the library smoking and
swapping lies, while Her Ladyship the Countess
pleaded a severe headache and remained in her
room, her dinner being served up there by her
maid. At about half-past ten we retired; that
is, the others retired, but Holmes grabbed me
by the arm as soon as we had entered our room
upstairs, and whispered:
"I'm going to pull off something now, Watson.
We'll have to wait here until they're all
asleep, as Letstrayed was out in the hayloft this
afternoon, and then I'm going to get some
Well, the two of us sat up in our room for
an hour, and when his watch pointed to half-past
eleven, my partner said:
"Hist! Here we go now. Take off your
Grumblingly I complied, and he did the
same. Then Holmes led me down the corridor
to Thorneycroft's room, and noiselessly opened
"I'm going to steal his shoes," he whispered.
"Steal his shoes! What the——" I began under
my breath; but I subsided as Holmes
tightened his warning grip on my arm and tiptoed
quietly into the bedchamber of the sleeping
secretary. He took the pair of shoes under the
chair beside the bed, and then just as quietly
passed out, closing the door behind us.
Only a dimly flickering gas-light on the wall
of the corridor illuminated the strange scene as
we left Thorneycroft's room, and Holmes tiptoed
along in his stocking feet to the next room,
inhabited by Lord Launcelot, the Earl's
"Say, are you going to swipe all their shoes,
Holmes?" I whispered in his ear, as we softly
opened Launcelot's door. "If you don't look
out, there'll be another detective from London
sent down here to investigate their disappearance!"
"Oh, shut up, you old duffer!" he answered
irritably. "Can't you ever learn anything after
all your long association with me? If you can't
do anything else right, at least keep still, and
don't arouse these sleeping dummies."
I obeyed, and so the two of us gradually
worked our way around to the four other rooms,
taking the shoes we found beside the bed in
each room, until we had six pairs of them—Thorneycroft's,
Lord Launcelot's, Uncle Tooter's,
Billie Hicks's, Billie Budd's (who, fortunately
for Holmes's purposes, had left a pair of
shoes in his room, and had escaped that afternoon
in another pair) and even the Countess's.
I demurred considerably at burglarizing her
room and stealing her dainty high-heeled shoes;
but the cold-blooded Holmes would stop at nothing,
and took her shoes along with the rest.
And the worst part of it was that he made me
carry them all! Toting around a large and awkward
collection of six pairs of shoes in my arms,
through the dark corridors of an ancient castle
in the middle of the night, was certainly something
new in my sleuthing experience, and I so
expressed myself when we finally got back to
our own room, and Holmes had closed the door
behind us. I laid down the pile of shoes on
the floor in one corner of the room, and grumbled:
"I've done a good many funny things since I
took up this job of being your side-partner,
Holmes, but I never thought I'd sink so low as
to go sneaking around into people's rooms while
they're asleep and steal their shoes!"
"Oh, forget it, Doc. I'll tell you more about
it in the morning," was all that my tyrannical
partner would reply.
And in a short time we were both in bed, with
the light out,—at last.
I was rather tired by this time, and was just
dozing off when Holmes suddenly jumped up
to a sitting posture, and said:
"By the great horn spoon, I almost forgot
that Letstrayed still has my perfectly good revolver
and I have his, since we exchanged this
afternoon out in the hay-loft. I must go and
get it back, or there's no telling what may happen
to it in his incompetent keeping!"
Then, before I could say a word, Holmes
bounced over me with his long legs, went over
to his coat-pocket, took out the Inspector's revolver,
opened the door, and started down the
corridor, in his flapping nightgown.
In a minute or so I heard a loud noise as of
some one falling over a chair in the dark, and I
knew it must be Holmes in Letstrayed's room,
exchanging the guns. I had to stuff a corner
of the pillow into my mouth to keep from laughing.
Holmes soon returned, with his own revolver
in his hand, and fire in his eye, so I knew
it wouldn't be safe to kid him about it. All I
"What did you find?"
"Nothing," he answered. "Go to sleep."
I did so with alacrity.
Zing-g-g-g-g! went the alarm-clock, which
Holmes had placed on the chair beside our bed.
Jumping up to turn it off, I saw with vexation
that it was only six o'clock.
"What in thunder did you set it so early for,
Holmes?" I demanded. "They don't blow any
early factory-whistle around here."
"Well, I have some work to do,—scientific
work that admits of no delay. You can lay in
bed till they call you for breakfast, if you want
to," was Holmes's reply, piling out of bed and
jerking his clothes on as if he were a fireman answering
a fire. Then he took out the magnifying
glass that he always carried in his pocket,
and a microscope out of our suit-case, pulled a
chair over to one of the windows, and began to
go over the twelve shoes one by one, first with
the magnifying glass and then with the microscope,
which was arranged so that objects as
large as the shoes could be inspected through
it, all the time taking down notes in his little
I couldn't for the life of me see what he
was up to nor what he expected to find from
the shoes; and still less could I figure out why
he had insisted on our all walking out in the wet
grass the morning before.
Every once in a while his eyes would light up
with a subdued gleam of triumph, and I knew
he was on the trail of something or other. Suddenly
he jumped up and jerked the window-shade
so that it flew up to the top of the window,
then dragged his chair closer to the window,
and continued examining the shoes
through his two instruments. At length, after
more than an hour had passed, he put them
down with a deep-drawn sigh of relief, after
hastily scribbling a few more notes, and turned
"Well, Doc, what would you say as to the
shoes from a cursory examination, without the
instruments?" he inquired with a smile.
By this time I, having arisen and dressed,
was kind of anxious to see what was going to
happen next. I picked up one of the shoes that
we had pilfered from Thorneycroft's room, and
turned it over in my hands.
"All I can say about it is that this particular
shoe ought to be sent to the cobbler's. There's
a small hole in the middle of the sole," I said,
"and it should also have this smear of red clay
wiped off," I added, as I pointed to the stain
along the outer side of the shoe.
"Oh, use your bean, Doc, use your bean!"
cried Holmes. "Is that all you can detect?"
"Well, that's all there is to detect without
your magnifying glass and microscope there,"
"Honestly, Watson, I think you're getting
dumber and dumber every day! Think, man,
think! Where in this immediate vicinity did
you see red clay like that before?" said Holmes.
I scratched my head with perplexity, and after
a moment it came to me:
"Oh, yes; out behind the stables, near where
the horses' stalls are. I remember now having
seen the clay there when we were out after
Billie Budd yesterday afternoon."
"Well, that shows that Eustace Thorneycroft,
the owner of the shoe, was out behind the stable
some time recently," said Holmes; "a rather
incongruous place for a private secretary, and
one of such sedentary and scholarly appearance
too. Putting two and two together, it is
not a very violent assumption to say that Eustace
went out to the stables for a very special
purpose, and what more special purpose could
he have than to hide the diamond cuff-buttons,
or at least some of them, which he probably
stole! Comprends-tu cela, tu imbécile?" Then
my partner added: "Of course, I couldn't exactly
swear to it yet that Eustace is the guilty
gink we are after, but I'm going to disguise
myself as a race-track follower and go out and
talk 'horses' to the two coachmen, Yensen and
Linescu, and we'll probably learn some more.
I've found a good many other clues on the other
shoes, which I will not divulge into your capacious
ears until later. Suffice it to say, however,
that the reason I made you people walk out
on the wet grass yesterday was not because I
own stock in a cough-and-cold medicine company,
as you might think, but because I wanted
whatever telltale stains there might be on the
six pairs of shoes (indicating to my trained eye
where their owner had been recently) to become
moistened and to stick more firmly to the
shoes, so they wouldn't dry up and get knocked
off before I could grab the shoes and inspect
them. You see, Watson, there are more ways
of killing a cat than by choking it to death
As the sarcastic old cuss continued his lecture,
he shoved all the twelve shoes he had examined
into the lower drawer of the dresser in the room,
locking it and putting the key in his pocket.
"I guess breakfast must be about ready
now," said Holmes, as he glanced at his watch;
"it's twenty minutes after seven. If there's
any of that whiskey left that we found on the
shelf in the lavatory yesterday morning, I'm
going to help myself to some more of it. I feel
kind of chilly after sitting up for an hour inspecting
We washed, after Holmes had taken the chill-remedy,
and were passing down the front stairway
to the lower hall on our way to the dining-room
when I suddenly thought of the consequences
of our nocturnal escapade.
"Say, Holmes," I whispered anxiously,
"what'll we do when all these people report the
loss of their footgear to the Earl?"
"What'll we do, you chump? Why, sit tight
and say nothing, of course. Just leave it to your
revered Uncle Dudley to deal with the situation.
I'll handle 'em, all right; and if you forget
yourself so far as to blab out where the
shoes are, by Gosh, I'll decapitate you! Now,
And Holmes squeezed my arm warningly.
Nobody else was in the dining-room yet, but
just as we entered, the rotund figure of Egbert
Bunbury obtruded itself upon the otherwise
pleasant scene, and Egbert stammered:
"Oh, er,—ah, Mister 'Olmes, Hi was just
going hupstairs to call you."
"Oh, you were, were you, Eggie," said
Holmes cuttingly. "Well, I found my way down
here, and Doctor Watson also, without your
kind assistance. If I were you, I'd have him
prescribe for you, as I'm afraid you're walking
in your sleep!"
In a moment His Lordship and the others,—including
the Countess this time,—came in, and
we all sat down to breakfast. As Harrigan
was pouring out a cup of coffee for Thorneycroft,
the latter said to the Earl: "Do you know
that to-day is the tenth of the month,—Wednesday,
April the tenth?"
"Well, what of it, Eustace? Ich kebibble
about the date, just so Mr. Holmes here recovers
my diamond cuff-buttons for me," replied the
Earl, as he smiled at my partner.
"Why, on the tenth of each month you have
to send a check for ten pounds to the treasurer
of the Society for the Amelioration of Indigent
Pearl-Divers of the Andaman Islands, in London,
according to the promise you signed last
fall," said Eustace.
"Do I?" said the Earl, stirring his oatmeal.
"Well, I fell for it in the fall all right—haw!
Everybody laughed, as in duty bound when
the boss cracks a joke, no matter how punk it
is; and then Holmes put his oar in.
"I say, Thorneycroft, is the pearl-diving business
out there in the Andamans as good as the
diamond-swiping industry in this country?"
Thorneycroft, greatly embarrassed at the
brutal insinuation of Holmes, colored deeply,
and didn't seem to know what to say for a
"Why, how should I know? If you've got
the goods on anybody, as the quaint American
expression has it, go ahead and arrest them,"
he finally stammered.
"What peculiar things you do say, Mr.
Holmes," said the Countess, leaning forward
with interest, as she looked meaningly at Lord
Launcelot. "I wonder if your remarkable talents
will discover who made away with my
best pair of shoes last night. I missed them
the first thing this morning, as they were the
ones I wore Easter Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday,
and I wanted to wear them again to-day."
"Why, my shoes are gone, too! I thought
at first I had mislaid them in my room, but a
thief must have been in the castle!" chorused
everybody at once, while I heard Holmes
quietly chuckle in his throat. "If a certain
person in high social standing," continued the
Countess, "thinks that such outrages, first the
theft of the Earl's diamond cuff-buttons and
then the theft of our shoes, are to be lightly
condoned because of his close relationship to
the Earl, then he is greatly mistaken!"
And she again looked daggers at Lord
"Oh, come, come, Your Ladyship," protested
Holmes with a smile, "you mustn't be too hard
on your brother-in-law. I don't think he took
the shoes last night. In fact, I am quite sure
of it. I'll guarantee to get your shoes back
for you before noon to-day, and you can gamble
"Why, of course," interposed Launcelot
hastily. "Billie Budd must have come back in
the middle of the night, and stolen the shoes,
after he escaped yesterday afternoon. I guess
he's probably hiding around in the neighborhood
I was just opening my mouth to get off a witticism
about who took the shoes, when Holmes,
observing me, gave me a warning kick under
the table, so I desisted.
After breakfast was over,—at which meal Inspector
Letstrayed ate at least three times as
much as any one else,—Holmes announced he
was going down to Hedge-gutheridge to investigate
some clues, and would not be back until
noon. He signaled to me to accompany him,
and when nobody was looking, we hurriedly
beat it upstairs to our room, where Holmes
quickly took out a disguise from the suit-case,
took off his regular clothes, and put on the new
outfit, which consisted of a well-worn and dirty
suit of loud yellow checks, with a dinky little
red cap, broken tan shoes, and a riding-whip to
carry in his hand. Then he deftly got out his
make-up stuff, and in a moment had fixed a
lump of flesh-colored wax on the bridge of his
long aquiline nose, and painted his face red
with actors' grease-paint until he looked as if
he had been drunk for a week. Changing his
voice, he addressed me in a thick Cockney dialect:
"My name is now Dick Henderson, from the
Epsom race-track, and don't you forget it, old
Sawbones, or I'll make hash out of you!"
"All right, Dick, I'm on, as usual. Say,
now's a good chance to put back those six pairs
of shoes in their respective owners' rooms before
Natalie and Adelaide, the chambermaids,
get up here," I said.
"Good for you, Doc! You betray a gleam
of intellect at last. We'll replace the stolen
brogans at once," congratulated Holmes.
We, thereupon, went around to the six rooms
and restored the shoes, without encountering
anybody who might ask embarrassing questions.
Holmes,—in his elegant disguise,—and I now
descended the stairs and quickly slid out of the
front door. It was now a quarter after eight.
Making his way around the castle, keeping close
to the walls, so as not to be seen from the high
windows by any one inside, Holmes led me out
to the stables.
Here I hid myself in one of the horses' stalls,
and Holmes walked into another one, where he
found fat little Olaf Yensen, the first coachman,
currying one of the noble steeds.
"Hello, there, What's-your-name," Holmes
called out, addressing Olaf. "My name is Dick
Henderson. I just came around to ask you
what you know about some of the Earl of Puddingham's
eight fine horses here being entered
in the coming races at Epsom. If you can give
me any information about the horses, so I can
bet on them with a good chance to win, why I'll
make it worth your while, you know."
And he winked at the coachman, who stood
open-mouthed in admiration of the false Dick
Henderson's noisy clothes.
"You bane a pretty sporty feller, Mister Henderson,
but Ay really haven't heard that das
Earl is going to have any of dese horses run in
das races," replied Olaf, as he scratched his
round little head; "but Ay tink if he does, this
horse here will run, because he is das best in das
Puddingham stables. Yust look at vat a elegant
pair of legs he has,—er, I mean two pair
of legs! Oh, my! he can run like das vind, Ay
"Well, that's good. What's this wonderful
horse's name?" said Holmes, as he took out a
notebook and pencil.
"His name bane Ajax II, und Ay take care of
him myself. My assistant, Carol Linescu, bane
no good, und Ay vouldn't trust him. He bane
asleep up in the hayloft now. My name bane
And the coachman went ahead currying the
sleek-looking Ajax II, who whinnied with pleasure
as the currycomb slid over his glossy brown
"All right, Olaf. Much obliged to you.
Here, have a drink of this," said Holmes, with
a grin, as he took from his hip-pocket a small
bottle of whiskey, which he had thoughtfully
provided for just such occasions as this, and
offered it to Olaf.
"Thanks, Mr. Henderson. Gesundheit!" returned
Olaf, taking a swig of the stuff.
"I heard down at the village this morning,"
Holmes continued, "as I came through, that the
Earl had eleven very valuable diamond cuff-buttons
stolen, and that the celebrated detective
from London, Mr. Hemlock Holmes, is here now
investigating the case. I wonder who swiped
the shiners, anyhow."
"Oh, my! Oh, my!" and Olaf nearly choked
on the whiskey as he spluttered in reply. "Ay
know vere one of das cuff-buttons is, all right!
Und Ay bet you das long-legged old fake Hemlock
Holmes never finds it, either! He is a big
bluffer. He doesn't do a single thing but stand
around und talk sassy to us fellers at the castle,
und since das Earl is half-stewed all the time,
drinking das expensive vine mit Harrigan das
butler, old Holmes, he finds it darned easy to
pull das vool over das Earl's eyes, und make
him believe he is earning das big fee he vill
charge him! Ha, ha! He may snoop around
here all he likes, but he'll never find das cuff-button,
because Ay have got it hid in a goot
hiding-place! Mr. Billie Budd, das gentleman
from Australia, he took one pair of das cuff-buttons,
und he gave one of dem to me to hide
for him, until das excitement blows over, und
den I give it back to him, und he pays me a big
reward for it, und he takes it in to London and
sells it for many tousand moneys. He escaped
yesterday afternoon when das big walrus of a
police inspector from London tried to arrest
him; und he's not far away, Ay bet you."
Holmes had very good control of his facial
muscles, and didn't crack a smile while the unsuspecting
Olaf dribbled out the whole thing to
him, but I, hidden in the next stall, had a hard
time suppressing a laugh when I heard Holmes
criticized to his face after that fashion.
"Well, that's very interesting, Olaf, I'm
sure," said Holmes ingratiatingly. "Would
you mind telling me just where this diamond
cuff-button is hidden, now?"
Olaf put his tongue in his cheek, and winking
at the false race-track follower, replied:
"Vat you want to know for? Ay bane taking
no chances mit it, so Mr. Budd, ven he comes
back, vill get it safe, und pay me das big reward
he promised me."
"Oh, well; you don't need to tell if you don't
want to," replied Holmes carelessly. "By the
way, hasn't this great racer here got something
the matter with his left hind hoof? There
seems to be a lump just above it."
And Holmes pointed to Ajax's hoof, which
his quick and discerning eyes had noticed while
Olaf was making his long speech. The shot
must have struck home, for Olaf showed great
emotion at once.
"Oh, no, nuttings at all, nuttings at all!" he
cried nervously, his hands working convulsively
and his face very red. "Das horse he vas born
dat way! Dat's all!"
"He was, eh? It looks kind of funny to me,
though," was Holmes's quick reply. "I know
something about veterinary surgery, and maybe
I can fix it up for you. Here, h'ist up there,
And before Olaf could prevent him Holmes
had grabbed the horse's leg up between his own
knees, whipped out his pocket-knife, and
scraped away at the strange lump between the
pastern and the hoof. He found it to be a lump
of mud, which rolled out on the straw-littered
floor of the stall, broke into pieces, and then disclosed
to our wondering eyes one of the mysteriously
stolen diamond cuff-buttons!
"Great Cæsar's ghost!" yelled Holmes at the
top of his voice; "here's one of them, anyhow!"
And he grabbed up the glittering jewel from
the floor, and confronted the astounded and
"So the horse was born with a diamond on
his hoof, eh? That beats a baby's being born
with a golden spoon in its mouth, as they say
some of them are. But hold on a minute, O
faithful confidant of the Australian crook. My
name isn't really Dick Henderson. It's," and
Holmes suddenly jerked off the false lump on
his nose and resumed his natural tone of voice,
"Hemlock Holmes, at your service! Now you,
As he uttered these words, Holmes pulled out
his revolver, covered the shrinking coachman,
and motioned him toward the castle.
I now came out of my hiding-place in the next
stall, and accompanied the strange procession
into the castle: Yensen, holding his hands up,
his face almost green with fright, in front;
Holmes, with his drawn revolver pointed at
him, immediately behind, and yours truly bringing
up the rear, while the bulldog barked
loudly at us from his kennel next to the stalls.
As we marched along the garden-paths, Holmes
demanded of his victim:
"Say, wasn't Thorneycroft out here at the
stable to see you along with Billie Budd, Olaf?"
"Yes, he was, Mr. Holmes," answered the
"And they both made it up with you to hide
the cuff-button, eh? Now tell me how you came
to put it in such an outlandish place! Talk
quick, now!" said Holmes.
"Ay had it hidden up in the hay-loft first,
und Ay yust vas taking it out to admire it vile
Ay curried das horse, ven Ay heard you coming
along, und Ay got scared, und put some mud
over it und shoved it under das horse's pastern
as das nearest place Ay could tink of! Please
don't hurt me now, Mr. Holmes. Ay never
sviped anyt'ing before!" pleaded Olaf, as he
cringed along toward the castle, every other
moment looking around nervously behind him
at Holmes's revolver.
"Except that you tried to steal Linescu's
boots, according to his testimony," returned
Holmes dryly just as we entered the rear door
of the castle, and proceeded along the corridor
toward the library. "But don't be afraid.
We'll talk about the proper retribution for your
crime after all the rest of the cuff-buttons are
found. Do you know anything about them?"
"Not a thing, Mr. Holmes,—not a t'ing. The
only one Ay saw is das one you captured now,"
Holmes marched his captive into the library,
where the Earl and Thorneycroft, who had been
sitting down at the table going over some bills
and other papers, jumped up in surprise at the
sight of us; while Holmes informed them of
his identity beneath the race-track disguise.
Thorneycroft turned pale when he saw his recent
accomplice, Olaf Yensen, in the hands of the
avenging detective, and he had to grab the edge
of the table to steady himself.
"Your Lordship, here is the first one of the
diamond cuff-buttons recovered for you, with
my compliments," said Holmes triumphantly,
laying the gem on the table before the astonished
Earl. "Your coachman is not really
the thief,—only a receiver of stolen goods.
Thorneycroft," he added, as he turned to the
latter, "the game is up! I'm onto you! You
stole the cuff-button and gave it to Olaf to hide
for you, and William X. Budd knows where the
rest are, and you probably do, too. Now make
a clean breast of it, and avoid further trouble."
My partner seated himself in one of the
leather easy-chairs, lit a cigarette, crossed his
legs comfortably, and listened while the confused
and guilty secretary tried to find his voice.
The Earl sat down hard in another chair and
listened with all his ears.
"Er, er,—oh, this is terrible! Billie Budd
stole 'em, not me. He came into my room early
Monday morning, while I was dressing, and
showed me the pair of cuff-buttons he said he
had stolen during Sunday night, and gave me
one to keep for him until he had a good chance
to dispose of it. Then, right after I returned
from calling on you to inform you of their loss,
which was about half-past ten, he and I went
out to the stables and he gave the other one to
Olaf here to hide for him. Here's the one I
have been keeping, Mr. Holmes," stammered
Thorneycroft, as he took the second sparkling
cuff-button out of his vest-pocket and laid it on
the table beside the one recovered from Olaf.
"When the village constables came up here to
search us, I simply slipped the thing into the
upper edge of my shoe until they had gone, and
I've been carrying it here in my vest-pocket
And Eustace paused as he drew out his handkerchief
and mopped his perspiring face.
"Then you had it right with you when you
burst into my office in Baker Street to tell me
of the loss, and your nervous excitement at the
time was a fake,—you big stiff?" Holmes asked,
blowing out a cloud of cigarette-smoke.
"Yes. I acknowledge with shame that I did.
But it was that scoundrel Budd that burglarized
His Lordship's room and stole the jewels originally,
and the coachman and myself are both
simply receivers of stolen goods, not robbers.
O Your Lordship, this is awful," Eustace
added, turning to the Earl. "I am a graduate
and an honor man of Oxford University, as you
know, and I surely must have been intoxicated
when I let Budd entice me into his damnable
scheme! The reason he took the jewels was because
he had been losing heavily at cards in
London recently, as he told me, and wanted to
sell them to recoup his losses. I'll swear I
didn't have a thing to do with the disappearance
of the other nine cuff-buttons, because if I did,
I'd tell you. That's all."
The Earl looked at Holmes sitting there puffing
out smoke in a very dégagé attitude, with
the smile of triumph still on his eagle-like face,
in spite of his absurd disguise, then he looked
at the confused and embarrassed Thorneycroft
standing at one side of the table, anxiously rubbing
his hands, then he looked at the red-faced
Olaf standing near him, and finally he looked at
me sitting in another chair, furnishing the calm
and sober background for all this sensationalism,—as
"Well, by Jove, I hardly know what to say,
and that's the truth, Holmes," he remarked at
length; "but the fact that my recreant secretary
has just now voluntarily coughed up the second
cuff-button without trying to hide it again in his
shoe, as he might have done, inclines me to let
him live this time. So I'll forgive you, Eustace,
but don't you ever let it happen again, or
I might forget myself so far as to have you
blackballed from all of the London clubs you belong
to," added the Earl, shaking his finger at
"Thank you, Your Lordship, thank you!"
cried the latter profusely, "I shall endeavor to
deserve your consideration by doing my best to
help you find the other cuff-buttons still missing."
"Keep the change, Eustace," said the Earl
dryly. "Now, Holmes, what'll we do with this
little stiff over here?"
And he pointed to the still trembling coachman,
who stood fumbling his cap in his hands.
"Why, he looks harmless enough," commented
Holmes; "I knew he didn't have brains
sufficient to plan the robbery, but was merely
Billie Budd's tool. So I think you might as
well forgive him, too, Your Lordship, and thus
get all the states' evidence they can turn for
us. Thorneycroft," he added, turning to the
secretary, "you accused Luigi Vermicelli, the
Earl's valet, of having stolen the cuff-buttons,
and you there, Olaf, accused your stable-partner,
Carol Linescu, of the theft. I shall give
your statements due consideration, and lay for
the accused parties accordingly. Now, Watson,
we'll get busy and see if we can't recover
some more of the cuff-buttons before luncheon.
It's only a little after nine now," looking at his
watch, "and we have nearly three hours left.
And, by the way, I believe I made a bet of five
pounds with Billie Budd yesterday morning
that I would find some of the cuff-buttons that
same day. He won the bet, since I didn't find
the heirlooms until to-day, but inasmuch as the
aforesaid Budd is a fugitive from justice, I'll
just confiscate the stakes and call myself the
winner! Doc, hand over those ten pounds
you've been keeping there."
I did so at once, glad to be relieved of the responsibility,
and old Hemlock Holmes was
about twenty-five dollars ahead by Budd's disappearance,
although still nine diamond cuff-buttons
"You may go back to the stables now, Olaf,"
said the Earl to the coachman; who beat it immediately,
glad to get out of any further arraignment.
"And you, Eustace, can get busy
again with these darned bills we were auditing
when Holmes came in with his news."
He took up the two glittering baubles, put
them in his pocket, and drew up his chair again
to the table, while Eustace resumed his former
"Oh, say! I nearly forgot. We must celebrate
a little on this!" the Earl suddenly cried,
as he pounded his fist on the table.
"Harrigan," he called out, "bring up a bottle
of my very best Burgundy, and set 'em up to
Mr. Holmes and Doctor Watson, in honor of the
glad return of my ancestor's historic cuff-buttons!"
The jovial butler seemed always to be within
earshot whenever the Earl wanted him, and in
a moment entered the library and ventured:
"The best Burgundy you have is the 1874
Beaune, Your Lordship. Shall I bring that?"
"Sure! P. D. Q.! I'm feeling a little dry
again, anyhow," said the Earl, as he winked at
us, while the still somewhat embarrassed
Thorneycroft looked out of the window at the
birds singing their spring songs among the
Harrigan left the room, and in a few minutes
returned from the cellar with a long dark bottle
that seemed to hold the ruby-red sparkles
of the sunset on the hills of eastern France imprisoned
in its depths. He uncorked it, and
deftly poured out three glasses of the ancient
wine, one of which the Earl took up in his hand
while Holmes and I each took one of the remaining
"Eustace, I'll have to cut you out of this, I'm
sorry to say. Holmes, I drink to your swift
and happy recovery of the other nine cuff-buttons.
At the welcome word of cheer we each put
ourselves outside of the finest fermented grape-juice
that had ever tickled my throat.
"Thanks. Now we'll get down to business
again," said Holmes, full of renewed "pep," as
he set down his glass on the table and turned to
me. "Doc, let's go up to our room while I get
this horrible suit of clothes off of me, and wash
the red grease-paint off my face. Ta, ta, Your
Lordship; see you later, with some more cuff-buttons,
And we both left the library and went upstairs,
where Holmes rapidly changed his
clothes and washed off the make-up in the lavatory
nearby. When he stood before me again
in civilized habiliments, he began:
"Doc, I'm going to jump onto this man Vermicelli,
the valet. My deductions lead me to
believe that he has another one of the jewels
stowed away somewhere, and it's up to me to
So we left our room and went down the stairway,
hot on the trail of the slippery valet from
Venice. As we rounded the foot of the stairway
at the second floor, halfway down to the
main scene of operations, Holmes's quick ear
detected the sound of voices in a room nearby,
though my slower ears couldn't hear a thing.
He put his finger to his lips, took me by the
arm, and quietly stole along the corridor with
me to the half-open door whence the subdued
voices proceeded. Arriving there, we halted,
while Holmes cautiously listened a moment,
then put his head in at the door and coughed.
He pushed the door open immediately and
walked in, with me at his heels, determined not
to miss any of it, whatever it was.
Seated in a rocking-chair by the window was
the elderly figure of the Countess's bachelor
uncle, J. Edmund Tooter, the retired tea and
spice merchant from Hyderabad, India, holding
his niece's Spanish maid, Teresa Olivano,
on his lap. As we entered so unceremoniously
the two of them ceased their billing and cooing,
hastily relaxed the half-Nelson grip they had
on each other, and faced us with considerable
resentment showing in their faces, though
Teresa didn't get off Tooter's lap, as I thought
"Well, what do you mean by this impudent
intrusion, Holmes?" demanded Tooter angrily.
"I guess a man can hold his affianced wife in
his lap if he feels like it, without having a
cheeky detective walk in on him."
"Your what?" asked Holmes, with surprise.
"My affianced wife, I said. And it's none of
your business, either, any more than it is my
niece's, or the Earl's. We had planned to elope
and get married in London this afternoon, but
I suppose now you'll run around and tell everybody
in sight what you know."
Tooter whispered something to Teresa,
whereupon she gave him a parting kiss, flounced
off his lap, and passed out of the room, with her
head high in the air, her black eyes snapping,
and saying something that sounded like: "Impertinent
loafers!" as she passed us.
Uncle Tooter arose from the rocker and stood
by the window, where he seemed to be trying
to slide something from his left hand into his
left trousers-pocket, his right side being turned
Holmes noticed the act, as did I, but said
nothing of it for the moment.
"Well, Tooter, by George, I'm surprised at
you," he commented sarcastically; "to think
that at your advanced age,—and you must be
pretty well up in the fifties,—you'd fall for the
sweet-love-in-the-springtime stuff that gets the
younger people, and that you'd engage yourself
in marriage with a servant, too, and one
who had previously refused you a couple of
times. Of course, as you say, it's none of my
business, but I'm used to having people tell me
that; and furthermore, it comes within the line
of my duty to intrude my nose into other people's
business whenever I judge it to be warranted
by the circumstances. Teresa has been
accused by Natalie, the first chambermaid, of
having stolen the diamond cuff-buttons——"
"Which is an infernal lie, and I can prove
it!" shouted Tooter.
"And you have been accused inferentially by
the Earl of possible guilt in connection with the
theft also, owing to your occasional lapses from
sobriety, which is rather a polite way of putting
it," went on the unperturbed Holmes. "By the
way, I'll just trouble you for that little package
you slid into your left trousers-pocket there."
Tooter flushed with embarrassment, and refused
"Watson, lock the door, and put the key in
your pocket!" yelled Holmes.
I locked the door at once, put the key in my
pocket, and then stood with my back up against
it, while Holmes stood in the center of the room,
facing the flushed and uncomfortable Tooter,
who remained by the window, with his left hand
clutching the mysterious little package in his
"Now then, Tooter, I've got the goods on you,
both figuratively and literally, so you might as
well come across with it," urged Holmes. "I
don't want to resort to forcible methods unless
I am compelled to."
"I'm sorry, Holmes. I'd like to oblige you,
but if this gets out about me carrying it around
with me, I'm a goner."
"I guess you will be a goner. The idea of a
man of your standing stooping to such a trick
as that! You can't plead any lack of funds as
an excuse for your regrettable error, either, as
you are known to be well heeled."
"But think of the resulting notoriety,
Holmes. I could never again be received in the
best circles of London society, and I'm sure the
King would cut me dead!"
"Well, I suppose it would hurt your standing
there, Tooter; but you've got to take the consequences
of your act. You're considerably old
enough to know what you're doing, you know.
Come on, now, give it up peaceably, or I'll forget
myself and try jiu-jitsu on you."
But Uncle Tooter still refused to give up the
little package, and Holmes, losing his patience,
walked over to him and grabbed his left arm,
while Tooter doggedly tried to wriggle out of
his grasp. In a moment, Holmes, by a quick
turn of his wrist, had forced the little package
out of Tooter's hand, and it fell on the floor.
Holmes immediately pounced on it, picked it
up, and started to open it, but suddenly his jaw
dropped, his face showed deep disappointment,
and he angrily confronted Tooter.
"Say, what in thunder are you trying to pull
off here, anyhow? This is a sample package of
your confounded 'Tooter's Best Teas, Imported
From Ceylon.' It's not one of the diamond
cuff-buttons at all!" he cried.
"Well, who said it was, you elongated
chump?" shouted the aroused Tooter. "I don't
know anything about the Earl's cuff-buttons.
You've been hanging around here nearly two
days now, and you haven't found any yet; and
then you have the nerve to steal my tea sample!"
"Why, I just recovered two of the cuff-buttons
a little while ago, one from Yensen, and one
from Thorneycroft, and I supposed I was about
to get back the third one from you," replied
Holmes in angry perplexity; "you certainly
talked as if you had one of the stolen gems there
in your hand. What did you mean by agreeing
with me that it would seriously hurt your social
standing, when all you were trying to conceal
was a tea-packet, huh?"
"Because I'm not supposed to be 'in trade,'
that's why, Mr. Impudence. Any direct connection
between myself and the tea industry,
such as my bringing in this sample package to
Teresa, so she could induce Louis the chef to
use it in the castle, would at once bar me from
further consideration as a retired gentleman
by the London upper crust, into whose exclusive
circles I have but recently wormed myself
with such untiring pertinacity. Now, do you
understand why I didn't want to show you the
Holmes scowled at the tea sample, as he
turned it over in his hand, and cursed softly
under his breath as he replied:
"I don't quite get you, Tooter. Everybody
knows that you were born in obscurity, gradually
worked your way up, and made all your
money in the tea and spice business, so why in
the deuce should they care if you take it into
your head to be a salesman for your own teas
at your nephew-in-law's residence?"
Tooter sighed deeply, shrugged his shoulders,
"Well, that's the rigorous lesson I had to
learn in the West End, Holmes. You are evidently
not familiar with the customs and mental
viewpoint of society people, or you would
know that while it is permissible to acquire
wealth by going out and working your head off
for it, it is a most serious offense and an unforgivable
faux pas if you are caught trying to
drum up trade for your establishment after you
have landed at the top of the social heap. You
see, I am supposed to let my managers do that,
while I confine myself to spending the coin that
they make for me. I guess that's explaining
it about as well as it could be."
And Tooter contemplated the scene outside
the window, where the little green buds were
just beginning to push themselves out on the
This explanation naturally didn't soothe
Holmes to any great extent, as he had always
despised society people and their ways, and the
sudden shock of the disappointment, coming
just after he had so successfully recovered the
first two cuff-buttons, made him lose his temper
entirely, particularly as he looked around
and noticed me grinning at his sour expression.
As a result, both his paternal English and his
maternal French completely failed him in giving
an outlet to his feelings, and he started to
swear in German.
As the longer and heavier words of Teutonic
profanity came from his lips, I quietly unlocked
the door, and motioning to Uncle Tooter, we
both tiptoed out of the room and started downstairs,
leaving Holmes to his devotions. As I
went down the stairway toward the library the
last thing I heard him say was: "Schweinhund!"
which sounds pretty bad.
Tooter and I walked in on the Earl and his
secretary, and told them of the bad break
Holmes had just made, which caused the Earl
to lie back in his chair and roar, though Tooter
was more concerned about the social disgrace of
having been caught with the tea sample.
The Earl was an easy-going and good-natured
cuss, without the narrow prejudices of his
snobbish friends, and readily promised not to
tell anybody about it. He also simply grinned
when Tooter told him that Teresa had just
promised to marry him, and said his revered
uncle-in-law would have to assume the job of
telling his niece that she would have to find a
In a few minutes Holmes rejoined us as if
nothing had happened, and we forbore from
kidding him about it.
"Well, the next victim I am going to jump
onto is your valet, Your Lordship, and I think
I'm going to strike pay dirt this time," were
his first words. "Where is the rascal now?"
"He's over in my room, sorting out my
clothes," said the Earl.
"All right. Come on, Watson, we'll nail him
before he gets away from the scene of his
Whereupon I accompanied Holmes across the
corridor to the room back of the drawing-room,
which was the Earl's.
Luigi was in there, engaged in laying out
several suits of clothes on the bed. He looked
up in surprise as we entered.
"Ah, Luigi, you haven't got any of the stolen
cuff-buttons concealed up your sleeve there,
have you? I would really hate to think that
you had," remarked Holmes, grinning sardonically.
On hearing this thinly-veiled accusation Vermicelli's
swarthy face got even blacker, if possible,
than it generally was, and he snarled:
"No. I'm sick of hearing about them!"
"I'm afraid we can't take your unsupported
word for that, though, Luigi. We'll have to
frisk you. Now, then, stand still while Doc
Watson goes through your pockets for the gems,
or at least for some incriminating evidence."
And Hemlock pulled out his trusty six-shooter
and covered the valet.
The latter got so scared at the sudden gun-play
that he fell backward on the bed, right over
one of the Earl's best suits, which made it easier
for me to search him. I went through all
his pockets without finding anything that we
were after until I tapped his inside coat-pocket.
Here I got hold of a small crumpled piece of
paper, drew it out and read the following on it:
Dear Luigi: Meet me at Wuxley's feed store in the village
at five p. m. to-day, and we'll go in to London and sell
the pair of diamond cuff-buttons. Be on your guard against
that Holmes fellow.
"Ha, ha! Ha, ha! a couple of times!"
chuckled Holmes, grabbing the note from me
and eagerly glancing over it. "I can tell at
once that this note was written by a man who
thinks he is going to meet the Earl's valet, but
who is bound to be disappointed."
"Well, will you let me go now? You've got
the note," said Vermicelli, with a scowl at
Holmes's gun, with which the detective still covered
"You don't think I'm so soft as all that, do
you? Let you go now, and thereby give you a
chance to warn your Greek accomplice in the
gardens that I've got his note? Not so that
you could notice it, Luigi," scoffed Holmes.
"Up into your own room you go, behind lock
and key, until after five o'clock, while I quietly
don your light green clothes, and disguised as
yourself, go down to the guilty rendezvous at
Brother Wuxley's feed store, and take the cuff-buttons
away from him. I'll have the cooks
send you up something at noontime, so you
won't starve in the meanwhile. Now march."
And Holmes flourished his revolver at the
Luigi didn't wait to be told a second time, but
went up the stairs with considerable alacrity,
while Holmes and I followed close behind.
When we reached the fifth and top floor, we entered
Luigi's room there, and the latter changed
clothes with Holmes. As they were both of the
same height and build, and were both of dark
complexion, the second gardener would not recognize
my partner that evening until he got up
close to him, so Holmes was playing it rather
"I think I'll just keep these valet's togs on,
for the fun of it, and then I'll be all ready when
five o'clock comes," said Holmes after we had
locked Luigi in his room and were descending
the stairs. "Gee, but I wish they'd put in an
elevator in this darned old-fashioned castle!
My legs are getting kind of tired running up
and down five flights of stairs."
As we reëntered the library, where the Earl,
Tooter, and Thorneycroft looked up with surprise
as they saw Holmes come back in Vermicelli's
clothes, Lord Launcelot and Billie
Hicks came in. They had been up in the billiard
room for some time, and came down to
see whether anything had developed in their absence.
Upon being told that Holmes had recovered
two of the cuff-buttons from Yensen
and Thorneycroft, and was in a fair way to recover
a third one from Xanthopoulos, they were
"We left Inspector Letstrayed asleep on one
of the billiard tables," said Launcelot, with a
grin; "but I guess Holmes was able to get along
pretty well without him. A little while ago I
heard the first gardener, Blumenroth, swearing
something fierce on the second floor. What was
he doing up there, anyhow?"
"How do you know it was Blumenroth?"
asked Holmes, as he nudged me.
"Because it was in German, and he's the
only German here."
"Do you understand German yourself?"
"Then how do you know it was swearing?"
"Oh, I could tell by the tone of it."
"Well, if you couldn't understand the words,
no harm was done. Say, fellows, how do I look
in the valet's togs?" asked Holmes turning
around as if he was in a tailor shop trying on
a new suit.
"It fits you kind of quick under the shoulders,
Holmes, but I guess it will do," said the
Earl, with a critical eye.
"What are you wearing those valet's clothes
for, anyhow?" exclaimed Hicks.
Holmes winked his crafty old wink, and replied:
"Along about five-thirty this evening you'll
find out, after I return from a little date I have
made down at the village. It's twenty-five minutes
of ten now, and a number of things may
happen in between, so just keep your eyes
"This detective stuff is just one darned disguise
after another, ain't it, Holmes? A little
while ago you were a race-track loafer, now
you're a valet, and Heaven only knows what
you'll be to-morrow," said Launcelot, as he
curled up in the window-seat and lit a cigarette.
"Well, I don't mind it," was Holmes's reply.
"Now, Watson, I'll need you again. I've had
my eye on a certain party since my deduction-trance
yesterday noon, and was waiting for her
sense of shame to impel her to confess her part
in the cuff-button robbery; but since she has not
as yet done so, I shall be forced to resort to
sterner measures. Come with me, and leave
these fellows to kill time any way they like until
And the old sleuth started to lead me out of
"She, did you say? Is one of the women
servants guilty also?" queried the Earl.
"Well, why not?" snapped Holmes. "I
don't believe in this doctrine of feminine impeccability.
But don't try to spill the beans by
getting me to reveal my hand before I've played
it now. Good-by, George."
We left the room, going upstairs to the second
floor, where Holmes tapped lightly on the
door of the Countess's room.
"Come in," called the Countess.
"Well, Mr. Holmes, to what am I indebted
for the honor of this visit, and for the privilege
of seeing you rigged up in the valet's clothes?"
she asked,—a little coldly, I thought, as she motioned
us to chairs, and laid down the French
novel she had been reading.
"Only to my desire for a little information
relative to your noble husband's cigars, Your
Ladyship. It would greatly assist me in clearing
up the mystery of the robbery. Never mind
the disguise. I've worn worse," returned
The Countess frowned.
"Why, have some of the Earl's cigars been
stolen, too, as well as the cuff-buttons?" she
"No; but they have something to do with
them, though. Now, when was the last time
that the Earl smoked a Pampango cigar, and
where was he at the time?"
"Those wretched things from the Philippines,—with
the terrible odor? He only smoked one
this week, and that was Monday morning, just
after breakfast, in his room. I made Harrigan
take the box of them away and hide it, so he
couldn't get any more."
"Ah," said Holmes, a smile gleaming on his
eager face, "that was just the time when some
of the diamond cuff-buttons disappeared.
Now, where were you all during Monday morning?"
"Right here in my own room, of course, having
Teresa arrange my hair. I had breakfast
served to me in here, and didn't go downstairs
"And when was the Earl's room swept out?"
"Really, Mr. Holmes, what funny questions
you do ask!" said the Countess, smiling. "The
Earl's room was swept out about half-past
eleven that noon, as soon as I came down and
ordered Natalie to do it, after I saw the mess of
cigar-ashes the Earl had left on the carpet."
"It's my business to ask funny questions,
also to catch thieves, no matter how highly
placed in society they are," said Holmes, rising
from his chair. "Your Ladyship, you have
now unwittingly given yourself away entirely.
You stole at least one of the cuff-buttons, I am
positive. Now, give it up before I publish it
from the housetops."
And Holmes stood there, with arms folded,
and regarded the Countess in a very grim and
determined manner, while I stood at one side,
my mouth open,—as usual.
The Countess turned white, then red, then
pulled out her handkerchief and began to weep,
which was disconcerting to the relentless
"To think that I should be insulted so by a
perfect stranger in my own home!" And the
Countess wept some more. "What earthly
connection is there between your silly questions
about the Earl's cigars and the diamond-robbery,
I should like to know?"
"Simply this," returned Holmes patiently,
as the Countess wiped her tear-stained face
with her handkerchief; "with the aid of my
powerful microscope I was enabled to find that
the specks of cigar-ashes adhering to the soles
of your shoes that you wore Monday, the ones
that I was compelled to take for evidence last
night, and replaced in your room this morning,
were from a Pampango cigar; and as you told
me that the only time recently that the Earl
smoked one of that brand was Monday morning,
in his room, and that his room was swept
out Monday noon, that proves conclusively that
you were in his room during Monday morning.
The fact that you also claimed to have been up
here in your own room all during Monday morning
shows that you had a strong motive for
concealing your presence in the Earl's room at
the time some of the cuff-buttons disappeared,
which can only mean that you wished to cover
up your theft. Is that clear enough?"
"I suppose so," remarked the Countess listlessly,
rising and going over to her dresser at
one side of the room, where she unlocked one of
the drawers, took out the cuff-button Holmes
was after, and handed it to him. "Here is your
horrid old diamond cuff-button! I wish I had
never seen it. I am not the thief, anyhow.
That miserable fellow from Australia is the one
that stole it, Billie Budd, and he gave it to me
to hide for him until he could dispose of it
safely. I did it for a joke on George, as I never
did like the hideous glaring things, even if they
were a present from King George I to his ancestor.
And that's all I know about it,—so there!
Budd only gave me one of the cuff-buttons, and
I don't know where the others are, and I can't
say that I care very much, either. Now are
you finished with me?"
"Entirely so, Your Ladyship, except to inform
you that since breakfast this morning I have recovered
two other cuff-buttons beside this one,
from Thorneycroft and Yensen, and they both
gave me the same song and dance that you did,
about the wicked William Budd having been the
author of their downfall. He seems to have
had a whole lot to do with the robbery, and is
also the man who assaulted your husband during
Monday night when he entered his room to
steal the last pair of the cuff-buttons, and was
evidently frightened away before he could
smouch the one in his left cuff, having taken the
one in his right cuff. I am satisfied that you
had nothing to do with the assault, but your action
in receiving the one stolen gem from Budd,
and then striving to throw the blame for it on
your brother-in-law, Lord Launcelot, is reprehensible
enough. I shall see what the Earl has
to say about it."
And in a moment Holmes, bowing suavely,
motioned me to follow him out of the room.
We came downstairs again, and Holmes
tackled the Earl in the library.
"Well, Your Lordship, here's the third one
of your bally cuff-buttons," he began, as he
handed it to him. "And the name of the person
who had it is——"
The voice grew inaudible to me as Holmes
bent down and whispered the name into the
At the shock of the revelation the Earl slid
down in his chair until he seemed to be sitting
on his shoulder-blades, feebly put one hand up
to his brow, and exclaimed:
"What? My wife? Good Heavens! I say
there, Harrigan, you may pour me out a glass
of wine,—I mean a stiff bracer of brandy!"
In a moment the butler came running in with
a bottle of the fire-water, and poured out a glass
of it for the Earl, who grabbed it, and downed
it at one gulp, then said:
"Now I feel somewhat restored, Holmes. Tell
me how on earth you found out that she took
My marvelous partner told the gaping quintette,—composed
of the Earl, Tooter, Thorneycroft,
Launcelot, and Hicks,—how he had pried
the third cuff-button out of Her Ladyship, and
when he had finished the Earl rang for Donald
MacTavish, the second footman, and sent
him after the Countess. In a few minutes,
Scotty had bowed the mistress of the castle into
our presence, and she stood in the doorway,
very cold and reserved.
"Well, Annabelle, what have you got to say
for yourself?" demanded the Earl. "I've been
robbed by my coachman, robbed by my secretary,
and now, by thunder, I've even been
robbed by my wife! And Holmes says that you
claim that William X. Budd of Australia put
you up to it! How about it, eh?"
"Well, George, you know I never did like
those diamond cuff-buttons, and when Billie
Budd came to me Monday morning with one of
them, I thought it would be a good chance to play
a trick on you. I didn't know that the others
were going to be stolen too, and I thought you
would have enough left. You have any number
of regular pearl cuff-links, anyhow, that can be
worn to society functions, and not as if you were
an end-man in a minstrel show, which is all that
those big, glaring diamond things are fit for!
Mr. Holmes told me he had replaced all the
shoes that disappeared last night, as he took
them for the purpose of finding out where the
stolen cuff-buttons were by his peculiar hocus-pocus
methods, so you can't accuse me of having
taken them too. I found my pair of shoes
in a corner of my room when I returned there
after breakfast. Now will you forgive me?
Billie Budd is gone, so I don't suppose there
will be any further trouble," the Countess concluded,
gazing appealingly at her husband.
The others all looked up with surprise as she
mentioned the return of the shoes, and then
turned their eyes toward Holmes with mixed
admiration and perplexity, while the Earl replied:
"Well, you may thank your lucky stars, Annabelle,
that I am such an easy-going fellow as
I am known to be, or else high life in London
would be aroused by gossip of another divorce.
I'll forgive you; but don't let it happen again."
"All right, George, thank you; but I still
think that Launcelot is responsible for the disappearance
of the other eight cuff-buttons."
With which Parthian shot, the Countess of
Puddingham left the room.
"Still got it in for Brother Launcie, eh?"
grinned Holmes, as the Earl put the third gem
in his vest-pocket. "Look here, I want to know
the reason for this prejudice on her part."
"Well, I don't mind telling you," returned
the Earl with a smile, as the accused Launcelot
got very embarrassed. "My brother was
greatly opposed to my marrying Annabelle, for
social reasons, because of her proximity to the
tea and spice business,—as I suppose you have
become aware,—so naturally after we were married
she hasn't looked on him with very much
favor, to say the least. But ich kebibble," he
added, as he straightened up in his chair.
"We've got back three out of the lost eleven
gems, anyhow, so we'll all go down to the wine-cellar,
and celebrate a little. Thorneycroft, I
guess we have all those bills audited for payment,
and checks made out for them, so I'll declare
a holiday for you, and invite you down to
share the drinks, since you didn't steal the third
gem. Come along, gentlemen."
To which invitation we all responded by following
the genial Earl down the corridor,
through the kitchen,—where Louis and Ivan
were quarreling about something or other, as
usual,—and down the cellar-stairs to that mysterious
region where Harrigan the butler held
"Well, what'll you have, gentlemen?" asked
Joseph the butler, always appearing at just the
right moment. "We have Château Margaux,
Chambertin, Beaune, Veuve Clicquot, Pommery,
Amontillado, Chianti, Johannisberger,
Tokay, and a number of others in the wines;
Muenchener, Culmbacher, and Dortmunder
in the imported beers; Coleraine whiskey,
"Say, hold on a minute, till I get my breath,
will you?" pleaded Holmes. "I think you may
crack me a bottle of that Tokay over there. I
have a weakness for the Hungarian wine."
Harrigan administered the Tokay to Holmes,
and then turned to me:
"What'll you have, Doctor Watson?"
"Well, they all look alike to me," I replied,
as I stood there rubbing my chin and sizing up
the immense array of wet goods in bottles and
casks that stretched along this part of the cellar,—on
shelves and on the cement floor; "I
guess I'll take a little of each."
"Shame on you, Doc, both for your indiscriminate
taste and your too great thirst," chided
Holmes, as everybody else laughed.
Harrigan was kept busy for a while uncorking
and pouring out the libations, while we all
drank to the recovery of the three cuff-buttons,
and wished the old boy from Baker Street good
luck in getting back the rest of them.
Uncle Tooter was just lifting up a glass of
madeira to propose a new toast, when all of a
sudden there came a terrible noise from the kitchen
above us, a clatter of pots and pans, the
overturning of a table, and the sound of angry
"I guess Louis and Ivan must be breaking up
housekeeping. Let's go up and see what the
difficulty is," said the Earl.
And we all beat it upstairs to the kitchen.
Arriving there, we found that the excitable
French chef had treed his Russian assistant on
top of a tall cupboard that ran along one side
of the room, while various kitchen utensils
strewn over the floor testified to a preliminary
skirmish. As we entered the door leading from
the cellar stairs Ivan jumped down and ran out
the rear door, while La Violette grabbed up a
butcher-knife from a table and gave chase to
"For the love of Mike, now what?" exclaimed
Following our leader we piled out the rear door
after the two cooks. Running down the flight
of stone steps to the rear lawn, the two started
a grand chase along the brick walk leading to
the stables; but Holmes's long legs were too
much for them, and in a trice he had captured
Louis and disarmed him, while Ivan hid behind
a tree. Blumenroth, the gardener, digging up
a flower-bed with a trowel nearby, put down his
implement, and stared at the two cooks sardonically.
"O that miserable barbarian! I'll kill him
yet!" shouted the enraged Louis, as we gathered
round him. "He had the audacity to take
my very best kettle to boil onions in, after I had
told him repeatedly not to do so. I hate onions,
anyhow; and besides, I was just going to use
that kettle to prepare some peas in!"
"Oh, is that all? I thought maybe he tried to
murder you," ventured Holmes, coolly testing
the edge of the butcher-knife with his finger.
"Is that all? I should think it was enough,"
cried Louis. "What are you doing with Luigi's
clothes on, by the way? Don't think that such a
ridiculous disguise could fool me."
"Far be it from me to attempt to put over
anything on such an astute person as yourself,"
replied Holmes suavely, while his observant
eyes caught every movement of the recreant
Galetchkoff, who dodged behind the tree every
time the great detective looked in that direction.
"Do you think it probable that your friend Ivan
could be implicated in the theft of the diamond
cuff-buttons, in addition to his crime with the
"Mr. Holmes," replied Louis earnestly,
"that fellow Ivan is capable of anything. If
I were you I'd search him right now. I remember
now that I saw him put something back in
his pocket very hastily a little while ago, when
we were in the kitchen,—and he noticed me
looking at him."
"Hum, this sounds interesting," muttered
Holmes musingly. Then he called aloud: "Ivan,
come over here, and Louis will forgive you for
spoiling his best kettle with onions!"
The unsuspecting Ivan joined our little group
there near an apple tree, about halfway from
the castle to the stables; and Holmes instantly
pulled out his revolver, covered him with it,
and bade me search him.
I did so, and in the Russian's hip pocket
found the fourth cuff-button, glistening and
shining as brilliantly as ever!
"Well, here you are, Holmes," I said, handing
it to him. "This one was found in between
finds, I guess."
The seven of us collared Ivan immediately,
and I feared the Earl was about to do him
bodily harm, when Holmes interposed with a
plea for leniency, and for permission to let the
assistant cook tell his story.
"That man William Budd, he took the cuff-button,
and he gave it to me to hide for him,"
claimed Ivan; "so I am not the original thief;
and I don't know a thing about the others."
The Earl eyed his second hash-mixer sardonically,
while we gathered round him there
under the apple tree, and said with a snort:
"This stuff about Billie Budd and not yourself
being the culprit is getting to be kind of a chestnut.
You're the fourth person who has handed
in that alibi so far, and I guess the Australian
sport didn't have to get down on his knees to
make you keep the stolen cuff-button for him,
either. But inasmuch as the gem has been recovered
in good condition, I suppose I can let
you off, instead of having Monsieur La Violette
chop you up for Hamburg steak,—a fate
you richly deserve. Now beat it back into the
kitchen, and don't let your boss there catch you
using his favorite kettles again, to say nothing
of keeping your hands off the ancestral cuff-buttons."
Ivan was released and Heinie Blumenroth
went back to his gardening disgustedly; while
we returned to the wine-cellar for a few more
drinks, while the Earl lovingly patted his vest-pocket,
where he had stowed away the four
gems, all recovered that morning by my lucky
as well as resourceful partner.
It was now half-past ten, and after we had
helped to decrease for a quarter of an hour
longer the visible supply of vinous, malt, and
spirituous liquors in Normanstow Towers,
Holmes suggested we go up to the fourth floor
and shoot a few games of pool before luncheon.
Everybody readily agreed, and in a little
while we were engaged in a game up there in
the spacious billiard room, Letstrayed evidently
having wandered away from his sleeping-quarters
on top of one of the tables. Holmes
"bust," and put three balls in the pockets. As
he reached into the third pocket to take out the
pool-ball, his jaw dropped, and his face showed
"Well, what do you know about that, fellows!
Darned if here ain't the fifth diamond cuff-button!"
And he held it up to view. "Now how in
Tophet did that get into a pocket of the pool-table?
I must freely confess that I hadn't expected
it. Wait a moment, here comes somebody
along the corridor."
In a minute more, the reddened and anxious
face of Egbert Bunbury, the first footman, appeared
in the doorway.
"Well, what's on your mind, Eggie? Nothing
but hair, as usual!" inquired Holmes, as
sarcastic as ever.
Egbert, however, didn't wait to reply when
he saw who was inhabiting the billiard-room;
but turned and ran for dear life back along the
Holmes brought his Marathon legs into play
then, and soon captured the obese footman, who
puffed like a porpoise in the firm and muscular
grasp of the detective, who nabbed him just at
the head of the stairs.
"Now, Eggie, the game is up for you as well
as for the other four culprits, so you might as
well begin to spill out your little narration of
how it happened that you absent-mindedly left
a valuable gem in a pool-table pocket," Holmes
admonished, giving the gem to the Earl and
jerking the perspiring footman into a more
The Earl was contemplating his hireling, his
face expressive of mixed emotions, the rest of
us filling up the background as usual.
"Well, that man Billie Budd, 'e swiped the
shiners, so 'e did," stammered Egbert, his eyes
avoiding his master's, "and 'e prevailed hon
me to 'ide one of them for 'im. Said 'e would
reward me when 'e came back to dispose of
them. But Hi didn't mean any 'arm by it, Your
Lordship,—er, Mr. 'Olmes. The reason Hi lost
the cuff-button in 'ere was because Hi was
shooting a little game of pool by myself just
now, with the thing in my 'and, so Hi could hadmire
it, and when Hi made the last shot, it
rolled away. Hi didn't know which pocket it
went into, and just then Hi 'eard some one coming,
so Hi beat it."
"Well, you can beat it again, Bunbury.
Back to the woods for you! I'll sentence you
to help Yensen clean out the horses' stalls for
your theft," said the Earl.
The fat footman, glad to be rid of the inquisition,
went downstairs in a hurry.
Our little party now returned to the billiard
room and finished our game, also a few more,
playing until Donald MacTavish, the second
footman, came in and announced luncheon, it
now being twelve o'clock. After luncheon, during
which Holmes made several more cracks
about the possible guilt of others in the diamond
robbery, we adjourned to the library, and
Holmes settled himself in the best chair, still
wearing Luigi Vermicelli's light green livery,
consulted his old chronometer again, and
"Well, it's still only a quarter of one. Hi!
Ho! Hum! Nearly four hours yet before I am
to go down to the village and grab the second
gardener with his stolen pair of diamonds!"
he remarked. Then turning to me, he added:
"Doc, I believe the reaction is on me now. I
haven't had a shot in the arm since yesterday
morning. Have you got the dope-needle with
you? No, that's right,—I have it here in my
And before I could prevent him, the hardened
old "coke"-fiend had pulled out his famous
needle and inoculated himself again in the arm
with the poisonous cocaine, and right in front of
all the five people in the library, too,—the Earl,
Thorneycroft, Launcelot, Tooter, and Hicks,—who
stared at him as if he were a dime-museum
freak; which indeed he was, to a certain extent.
The seven of us managed to kill time some
way or another that Wednesday afternoon,
while the sun shone through the ancient windows,
and the birds sang their springtime songs
in the trees outside, the Countess having retired
to the music room to hammer Beethoven,—or
maybe it was Mendelssohn,—out of the piano.
I had grown considerably interested in a very
romantic novel by Xavier de Montepin, and
took no note of the passage of time until suddenly
my unconventional partner jumped up
"Arise and depart with me, John H. Watson,
M. D.! The time now approaches when we shall
accomplish the recovery of the sixth and seventh
stolen piece of glass for His Nibs the Earl!"
And Holmes grabbed me by the shoulder so
sharply that the book fell out of my hands.
"You don't need to throw a fit about it, anyhow,"
I grumbled, as I hastened to accompany
him out of the castle and down the somewhat
dusty road to the village of Hedge-gutheridge.
The darned village was three-quarters of a
mile from Normanstow Towers, and I didn't
feel like taking a tramp just then, but Holmes
seemed to be in high spirits as we passed along
the ancient and dilapidated main street of the
village, sizing up the signs above the stores until
we came to one that read:
FLOUR and FEED
It didn't look very inviting, being only a hundred
feet away from the grimy railroad station
by which we had first come here, with cinders
blown all over it, and if the building had been
back in the U. S. A. and I was a deputy state fire
marshal, I would have ordered it torn down
at once. Of course none of the constables were
in sight anywhere, probably being asleep in
some back room!
Holmes led the way into the feed store, and
we met the proprietor, who strongly reminded
me of Inspector Letstrayed and Egbert Bunbury
by his general air of sleepy incompetence.
It was now five minutes to five, and after
Holmes had warned old man Wuxley of his
identity beneath the valet's livery, we decided
to hide behind one of the barrels of bran that
stood on one side of the store, and there await
the coming of Demetrius with his booty.
We didn't have long to wait, for he soon
showed up in the doorway,—with his swarthy
face and shifty eyes,—and asked Wuxley if
Luigi had arrived yet to meet him. Suppressing
a smile, Wuxley motioned him in, saying
that Luigi was in a back room.
As he passed the bran barrels Holmes and I
jumped out and nailed him, and Holmes exclaimed:
"Well, here I am, Mr. Xanthopoulos. We'll
catch the next train in to London and sell the
But the wily Greek was quicker than I
thought he would be; he jerked loose as soon as
he heard the tones of Holmes's well-remembered
voice that had bawled him out at the inquisition
the day before, and in a second had
escaped by the back door, leaving Holmes with
a shred of cloth out of his coat-tail held between
We two gave chase at once; out of the rickety
old back door of the feed store we sped, nearly
breaking our necks in our stumble down the uneven
steps that led to a weedy yard. There
was a gate in the picket fence surrounding the
yard, and through this we dashed madly after
the swiftly retreating Demetrius, who led us
down a narrow lane back of the stores fronting
on the main street for several hundred feet,
until we arrived at a small creek that paralleled
the railroad tracks,—a stream that I had not
noticed on the way out from London the previous
As our ill luck would have it, Demetrius
found a couple of dingy rowboats at the edge of
the creek, and into one of them he jumped,
grabbed the oars, and paddled himself down-stream
at a pretty good clip. Holmes swore,
both in English and French, but quickly grabbed
the other boat, shoved me into it, and started to
row after the gardener down the turbid and
muddy waters of the creek, which was about
sixty feet wide. As we rounded a sharp left
bend in the creek, Holmes ran our boat in near
the opposite shore and succeeded in hitting the
side of Demetrius's boat with the prow of our
Demetrius yelled something unintelligible,—in
his native Greek, I guess,—and the collision
threw him overboard, on the outer side of his
boat, whereupon he began to swim across the
creek to the farther side.
"Come back here, or I'll throw this oar at
you!" yelled Holmes, pulling it out of the row-lock,
too excited to think of the revolver in his
pocket, while I strove to row the boat as well as
I could with the one remaining oar.
Owing to Holmes's gyrations with the other
oar, our boat capsized too, and the three of us
were now struggling in the cold, muddy water,
which, fortunately, was only shoulder-deep. We
found it quicker to wade out than to swim out,
and as Demetrius scrambled up the opposite
bank of the creek, Holmes was upon him, and
grabbed him this time with an unbreakable
"Here are the two cuff-buttons, Mr. Holmes,"
faltered the gardener, as he nervously fumbled
at his vest-pocket and handed over the two
gems, none the worse for the wetting they had
received. "Please don't kill me now. Billie
Budd made me and Vermicelli keep the cuff-buttons
for him, after he said he stole them;
and as he didn't come back yet, we thought we'd
sell 'em ourselves. And I'm liable to catch
pneumonia from all this, anyhow!"
"We'll see about that when we get back to
the castle,—I've got seven of them now out of
the eleven. Seven, come eleven!" said Holmes
with a grim smile, as he put the two causes of
Demetrius's downfall in his own pocket.
The strangely assorted trio now walked back
to the castle, the few villagers we met at the
edge of Hedge-gutheridge staring at us in surprise
on seeing our drenched and streaming
The golden April sun was low in the western
sky as we turned in at the castle grounds, and
I felt good and hungry, I can tell you, after all
the excitement. After explaining what had
happened to the gaping habitués of the castle,
I hustled upstairs with Holmes, and we changed
our wet clothes immediately, putting on dry
ones, after advising Demetrius to do the same.
I prescribed a hot drink of whiskey-punch
apiece for us in order to ward off pneumonia;
and by half-past six we were ready for dinner.
Everything passed off as well as before, and
Holmes was effusively congratulated by the
Earl for his recovery of the sixth and seventh
diamond cuff-buttons, His Lordship deciding
at length that the second gardener had been
punished enough for his theft by being dumped
into the creek. They all echoed Holmes's slogan
of: "Seven, come eleven!" for the recovery
of the four remaining gems; and after an
evening spent in listening to Lord Launcelot
play the mandolin, and to Uncle Tooter telling
some more extravagant tales of his adventures
in India, we retired at ten o'clock, and I soon
Then I dreamed that I was back in the United
States, on a Mississippi River levee, throwing
dice with several colored boys, who kept shouting:
"Seven, come eleven!" when Hemlock
Holmes came along and pinched us all for crap-shooting!
Thursday morning, April the eleventh, found
us none the worse for our wetting in the creek
the afternoon before; and as Holmes and I
were dressing in our room, he loudly boasted
that before another day had passed he would
succeed in finding the four remaining diamond
"Well, I hope so, Holmes; only I can't help
thinking what a supreme chump that Earl is
for keeping those five servants of his from
whom you extracted the first seven cuff-buttons,—Yensen,
Thorneycroft, Galetchkoff, Bunbury,
and Xanthopoulos!" I said; "because at any
time they are liable to steal the darned cuff-buttons
again. Then there's Vermicelli, who
was mixed up in the plot with the Greek, and the
"What of it, Doc?" grinned Holmes, as he
bent down to lace his shoes. "His Nibs can't
very well fire her, can he? And as to the five
servants whom he has so mercifully retained,
that's his funeral, not ours. I was hired at an
exorbitant fee to get back the cuff-buttons, and
when I have done so my duties end. Handing
out free advice to people who have not asked
for it generally doesn't get you anything, I
I subsided, knowing from long experience
how bull-headed Holmes was, and we went
downstairs to breakfast, at which meal the Earl
and Countess both did the honors to the assembled
party. It developed then that Inspector
Barnabas Letstrayed, in spite of his nap
on the billiard-table the day before, had also
bestirred himself in an eleventh hour attempt
to find some of the cuff-buttons before Holmes
dug them all up, and he told us how he had been
all through the servants' rooms on the fifth
floor, rummaging in their dressers and clothes-closets,
and peeking under the beds, in a vain
endeavor to unearth at least one of the stolen
gems. He had also been down in the wine-cellar,
on the theory that some of the servants
might have gone down there to get drunk, and
while in that condition might have dropped the
gems, but there also he was doomed to disappointment.
"Cheer up, Barney, old boy; maybe I'll let
you stand beside me when I nab the next thief,
and you can thus share in the honor of apprehending
him," said Holmes. Letstrayed, however,
seemed to think that my partner was unjustly
putting something over on him in getting
back so many of the cuff-buttons when he, Letstrayed,
couldn't find one. After breakfast the
Earl suggested that we take a walk about the
grounds, which proved to be a pleasanter jaunt
than the one we took at Holmes's insistence on
Tuesday morning; for the grass had been dried
by this time by the sunshine that had followed
The nine of us, including the Countess,
rambled around the wide-spreading lawn by
twos and threes, and I contrived to draw
Holmes past the stables and gardens back to
the small patch of woods that adjoined the
castle grounds at the rear, where we seated
ourselves on a fallen tree-trunk.
"Now, look here, Holmes, I've just been
thinking——" I began.
"What! Again?" interrupted Holmes, with
"Don't interrupt me, please," I said seriously.
"I want you to dope out for me the
process of reasoning you went through yesterday
noon in the music room behind the locked
doors. Some of the moves you have made are
too many for me, and I seek enlightenment."
"Well, Doc," said Holmes, as he took out
his pocket-knife, pulled a sliver of wood off
the tree-trunk we were sitting on, and began
to whittle it, "the red clay I found on Eustace
Thorneycroft's shoes was pretty good evidence
that he had been around the stable, where the
only red clay in the neighborhood is located;
so I disguised myself as the race-track loafer
and pried his secret out of the none too bright
Olaf Yensen, the coachman. Then I found
cigar ashes of the peculiar Pampango brand,
which I can always spot with a microscope, on
the Countess's shoes, which proved that she
had been in the Earl's rooms just after he had
smoked a Pampango and before the room had
been swept out, so I was able to nail her as one
of the kleptomaniacs——"
"Yes, yes, I know that already," I hastened
to say; "but what about your seizing Galetchkoff,
Bunbury, and Xanthopoulos? You didn't
seem to have any shoe-sole clues by which to
"Doc, when I can't get 'em any other way I
pull off my feminine intuition, which I have inherited
in large measure from my French
mother, and I can always run 'em down with
that! Now when we were chasing that Russian
hash-mixer or biscuit-shooter out of the kitchen
door closely pursued by Louis with the butcher-knife,
your old Uncle Hemlock's intuition told
him that there was another one of the guilty
wretches who had cabbaged the cuff-buttons!
Similarly with the egregious Egbert when he
put his retreating forehead in at the door of the
billiard-room, just after I had picked the fifth
diamond treasure out of the pool-table pocket;
and also with the Mephistophelian valet Luigi,
when I decided to pull the strong-arm stuff on
him and search him for a note from an accomplice.
Little old Intuition,—with a capital I,—told
me that they were the ginks I was after."
And the accomplished old poser calmly whittled
away at the sliver of wood in his hand.
"Aw, come off!" I replied. "I really thought
you could hand me something more plausible
than that, Holmes. Unquestionably you do
show flashes of genius sometimes in recovering
articles or in spotting criminals guilty of murder
and so on, but at other times you're simply
playing to blind, dumb luck, only your vanity
is so enormous that you won't admit it. You
want everybody to believe that you dope out all
your problems with that wonderful deductive
reasoning power that you get from injecting
'coke' into your arm, and sitting still with a
pipe in your mouth! 'Intuition,' my eye! You
might be able to tell that to Barney Letstrayed,
but you can't tell it to me!"
And I disgustedly threw away another little
sliver of wood I had picked off the tree-trunk.
Holmes merely laughed and said:
"I guess you're simply sore because I
dumped you into the creek accidentally yesterday,
Doc. The old saying has it that no man
is a hero to his valet, but I guess I'm not a hero
to my physician either. Cheer up though, Watson;
when we get back to the little old rooms in
Baker Street after this cuff-button fever is
over, why I'll split up with you fifty-fifty on
the reward I get from the Earl. How's that,
"Pretty good, I guess. But I would like
some information on your deductions from the
remaining four pairs of shoes,—Tooter's,
Hicks's, Lord Launcelot's, and most important
of all, Billie Budd's, the last of whom you publicly
bawled out as a robber and thief at luncheon
on Tuesday. How are you going to account
for them,—huh?" I inquired.
"Now, Doc, you betray a reprehensible desire
to anticipate the prescience of the Almighty
in thus seeking to ascertain the future
while we are still in the present tense, similar
to the people who go to call on fortune-tellers,
and the girls who always read the last page of
a novel first, to see how it comes out! But suffice
it to say that I found both Pampango cigar
ashes and the toilet-powder that the Earl uses
on Budd's shoes; wine-stains on Uncle Tooter's
shoes; flour on Hicks's shoes, and garden earth
on Launcelot's shoes. I'll tell you more later."
Having given forth this cryptic information,
Holmes arose, brushed off his trousers, and
added that we'd better be getting back to the
castle, or the Earl would be sending out a general
alarm for us. And that's all I could possibly
get out of him.
At the edge of the woods there was a considerable
stretch of bare pebbly ground before
we came to the rear lawn, and I stumbled over a
fair-sized pebble, which gave me an idea.
"Holmes," I said, "I think I know the derivation
of the name of the noble castle out in
front there,—Normanstow Towers. You see
they claim that the oldest part of the castle
dates from the Norman Conquest, though the
rest of it only goes back to about 1400, and if
all these pebbles were here at the time of William
the Norman, then this is the place where
probably William the Norman stubbed his toe,
as he was chasing around inspecting the castles
he had set up to keep the Saxons in subjection,
hence, Norman's toe,—Normanstow! How's
that for etymology?"
"Watson, you ought to be shot for a joke like
that,—darned if you oughtn't," replied Holmes
with a smile.
We then continued our walk to the castle,
where we turned in at the kitchen door at his
request, all the rest of our party having reëntered
the castle by the front door.
"Now here is where I will have a difficult job
ahead of me, handling the touchy and sensitive
supervisor of this hash-foundry, Watson,"
Holmes remarked as we entered the kitchen and
said "Good morning" to Louis La Violette the
chef; "for I have good reason to believe that he
knows where a certain party has hidden one of
the remaining cuff-buttons."
"Louis," he began, turning to that worthy,
who was putting away the breakfast dishes,
while Ivan, his assistant, sat in a corner picking
out the stems from some hothouse strawberries;
"I called to congratulate you on the uniform
excellence of the repasts you have prepared
since I have been an honored guest in
this castle, and to say that I consider them absolutely
Lucullan, not to say Apician, in their
delicious sumptuousness. Here, have a cigarette
on me." And Holmes politely proffered to
the chef his silver cigarette case,—the one that
the Sultan of Zanzibar had given him three
years before as a reward on a certain case.
La Violette swelled up like a pouter pigeon
on hearing this taffy from the great detective,
and bowed profoundly, his black eyes gleaming,
as he took a cigarette and lit it.
"Thank you, Mr. Holmes. I always endeavor
to do my best in the culinary line, with the help
of Monsieur Harrigan, who serves the wines at
the end of the dinners I prepare," replied he.
"You are both geniuses in your line," agreed
Holmes, as we settled down in a couple of
kitchen chairs, and I listened while he tried to
pull the chef's leg for some cuff-button information;
"and I can appreciate your cookery
all the more, since I am half a fellow-country-man
of yours. My mother was French, as Doctor
Watson informed the world in one of my
very first adventures."
"Ah! You don't say so! Why in the world
didn't you tell me about it before? May I ask
what your mother's maiden name was?" queried
the pleased Louis.
"Le Sage. She was a direct descendant of
the family of the great French author of the
seventeenth century, Alain René Le Sage,"
"Well, well, well! I must treat on that,"
returned Louis, and he bustled around into the
pantry, and got out a bottle of Bordeaux wine
he had hidden there by the flour-bin for contingencies.
"Here, just try some of this elegant
wine from my native province of Guienne," he
added, filling three glasses, which he offered
one each to Holmes and myself.
"Fine, fine!" commended Holmes, as he
smacked his lips. "By the way, Louis, what
do you think about the four remaining diamond
cuff-buttons still floating around? I have reason
to believe they are still inside the castle,
and that Billie Budd did not get away with
Louis put down his glass, and regarded
"Those cuff-buttons are not worrying me one
single bit, and if I had taken any of the worthless
gewgaws, which are hardly fit for a Latin
Quarter masquerade ball, I would have assuredly
soon become ashamed of having them
in my possession and have returned them to the
Earl. However," and Louis seemed to hesitate
a moment, "if anybody else in Normanstow
Towers still holds the gems, there is no telling
what may happen to them. I wish I could help
you find the things; but when a Canadian gentleman
who tells you he is half French, and
used to live in that beautiful city of Quebec,
Here Louis happened to notice Holmes watching
him narrowly, and instantly realizing the
horrible break he had made, got terribly embarrassed,
and stammered out:
"Er, no, I mean, er—that is——"
But Holmes jumped up and didn't give him
a chance to finish it.
"Ha, ha! The only Canadian in this neck of
the woods is Mr. William Q. Hicks, of Saskatoon.
I knew before that he stole one of the
cuff-buttons, but now that you give yourself
away and admit that you know of his theft
also, you are in duty bound to tell me where he
has hidden the darned thing. Come, Monsieur
La Violette, I am more French than Hicks is,
as my mother was born in France itself, while
his was just a French-Canadian; so come across
with your confidence, and rest assured that I
will not misplace it by ever telling Hicks that
you informed on him. The deadly flour-marks
on the soles of his shoes indicated to my eagle
eye, ably assisted by the magnifying glass, that
Hicks had been loafing around in the pantry;
which could only mean that he was having
confidential relations with you, since the guests
of an earl, from a far-off country, do not commonly
come down from the drawing-room and
associate with the chef in the pantry unless they
have something very ulterior up their sleeve,—n'est-ce
Louis got more confused and embarrassed
than ever, and was about to make some kind of
answer when Donald MacTavish appeared in
the doorway leading from the cellar, wiping his
lips, and with a fatuous grin on his face.
"Oh, Scotty, Scotty! I am sure you'll never
get to be a member of the W. C. T. U. when you
carry on like that," said Holmes, noticing the
footman's caught-with-the-goods expression.
"Down in the Earl's wine-cellar again, sampling
'em up, eh?"
The second footman bowed awkwardly, and
was about to pass into the dining-room when
Holmes caught the glint of something sparkling
in his left hand.
"Stop right where you are, MacTavish!"
Holmes shouted commandingly, "and show me
your left paw so I can see what you are trying
to carry away with you. Something more valuable
than the tinfoil off a wine-bottle top, I'll
The footman looked around at me, then at
Louis and Ivan, and finally at Holmes, whose
threatening expression cowed him, and he
shambled over and, with a deep-drawn sigh,
gave up the eighth diamond cuff-button.
"Well, I was afraid that sooner or later
something like this would happen," he remarked
with downcast eyes, "and I would be
jerked up sharp and the darned thing taken
away from me. Blast that man Weelum Budd,
anyhow! He came to me last Monday and
talked me into hiding the shiner for him, so he
could play it safe up in the drawing-room and
I would have to take the blame for it if it was
captured by you before he could get back!"
With undisguised pleasure my partner took
the gem, holding it up so that Louis could view
it plainly, and said: "But where has your base
tempter been keeping himself these past two
days, Donald? Have you had any secret communications
with him? Better 'fess up, or it
may go hard with you."
"Why, he came sneaking around here last
night about nine-o'clock while you people were
in the music room listening to Lord Launcelot
play the mandolin, and he said he was boarding
at the village inn under an assumed name——"
"And those rabbit-headed constables there
couldn't recognize him!" growled Holmes,
shaking his fist. "But did Budd tell you when
he expects to collect the cuff-buttons from his
dupes here and make a get-away!"
"Yes," replied Donald, "he said he would
come for them to-morrow, Friday, morning,
and he didn't seem to mind it when I told him
that Mr. Hemlock Holmes had gotten back the
first seven cuff-buttons, either; for he claimed
he could swipe 'em all again, anyhow. Said that
you were only a big bluff."
"Oh, I am, am I! Well, I can tell you that
Mr. W. X. Budd, of Melbourne, Australia, will
find to-morrow to be a darned unlucky Friday
for him, all right. Now we'll just go into the
library, where the Earl is probably indulging
his great taste for literature by reading the
labels on the wine-bottles, and we'll tell him
how his good man Donald fell from grace
through the wiles of an Australian thief. So,
front and center, Scotty; forward, march!"
With these words Holmes waved smilingly to
Louis, the chef, as a sign of what his friend
Hicks could expect when Holmes the detective
should collar him for the ninth cuff-button, and
then he and I accompanied the scared footman
into the presence of the Earl.
"Well, now what?" inquired the noble master
of the castle, putting down a copy of London
Punch on the library table, and turning to inspect
the arrivals. "Don't tell me that that little
cuss from Balmoral Palace there has been
caught with any of my ancestral gems on him!"
"But I will tell you, anyhow, George, because
it's the sad and undoubted truth," answered
Holmes, as he handed over the eighth missing
bauble to His Lordship, took out a cigarette,
and lit it. "The time is now 9:15 a. m., and I
herewith present you with eight-elevenths of
your stolen property, trusting to have the other
three-elevenths recovered for you before the
sun goes down. As the old Roman Emperor
Titus, or somebody, used to say:
"Count that day lost whose low descending sun
Views from thy hand no diamond-capture done!"
"Eh, what? Well, by thunder, this is getting
to be something fierce!" commented the Earl
as he took the cuff-button from Holmes and
stowed it away in his vest-pocket, "not the recovery
of them, which I welcome, but the melancholy
fact that I have been betrayed now by
no less than, seven different people in whom I
have reposed confidence,—my own wife, my
secretary, my coachman, my second cook, my
second gardener, and now by both my footmen!
I wonder who is going to be the next guilty miscreant!"
And the Earl scratched his head with perplexity.
"Who did you think took them, anyhow?
The horses out in the stables, huh?" inquired
Holmes humorously. "But where is the rest of
our recent little promenade party by this time?
Watson and I got lost in the woods back there,
and we lost sight of the others."
"Oh, they're up in the billiard-room, shoving
the ivories around on the green tables," answered
the Earl, rising and stretching himself.
"And with their heads containing about as
much ivory as the billiard-balls, I suppose.
Honestly, I never saw such a pack of gilded
loafers in my life! Don't they ever try to improve
their minds! It seems that you have
some faint glimmerings of literary appreciation,
since you read London Punch there, but
those other ginks don't even read that much!
Let's go up and inspect their playing, especially
that of Mr. Hicks," Holmes concluded, winking
meaningly at me, as we left the library and
mounted the stairs.
Up on the fourth floor we entered the billiard-room
where so much time was killed, and found
Lord Launcelot, Hicks, Tooter, and Thorneycroft
shooting a game of billiards, with old man
Letstrayed, the so-called police inspector, fast
asleep in one of the splint-bottomed chairs, as
usual. Holmes picked up a cue, and playfully
poked Letstrayed in the ribs with it.
"Wake up, Barney, and hear the birds sing!"
he called out.
The sleepy inspector jumped up in surprise,
while the other four men laughed and continued
their game, and the Earl and I sat down as
Holmes walked over and butted into the
"Say, I don't think that Hicks is holding his
cue just right, fellows," said he, grabbing that
worthy's cue away from him and leaning over
the table to try a shot himself. "Look,—this
is the way to do it!"
"Aw, you're not holding it right yourself,
Holmes," said Launcelot, who prided himself
on his knowledge of billiards.
"Sneeze, kid, your brains are dusty. I guess
I could shoot pool and billiards along with the
world's experts when you were studying your
A, B, C's! You see, I'm forty-nine years old,
while you're barely thirty," replied the old boy,
as sassy as ever.
"Hicks, I'm astonished at your playing," he
continued in an authoritative tone; "why, a
man so smart as to keep a diamond cuff-button
hidden for three days while he confides in the
Earl's chef down in the pantry should be able
to play this intellectual game better than that!"
The Canadian's mouth opened, and his eyes
bulged out with fright as he heard his recent
deeds thus published to the assembled crowd,
while all his audience showed astonishment as
great as Hicks's.
"Now, look me in the eye, William Hicks!"
Holmes went on, pointing his finger at his victim,
"and tell His Lordship the Earl if that
isn't the actual truth I just spoke."
"Er—er, ah,—I guess it is. I can't see how
you ever found it out, but that crook of a Budd
he came to me with one of the gems, and induced
me to keep it for him till he called for it," was
the admission of the confused Hicks, who, with
reddened face, sheepishly fished out the stolen
cuff-button and handed it to the astonished
"And now Billie Hicks is a thief, too!" said
the latter. "How the Sam Hill did you ascertain
"Well, if Mr. Hicks hadn't been so careless as
to stand around in the spilled flour on the pantry-floor
when he was foolishly confiding his
little game to the chef, perhaps I wouldn't have
been able to apprehend him now," replied
Holmes, clearing his throat. "Are you awake
there, Letstrayed? You see that's how it's
done, examining the incriminating stains on the
soles of the shoes. Not the daintiest job in the
world, perhaps, but it brings the results, and
that's the main thing. This now makes a total
of nine of the Puddingham cuff-buttons I have
unearthed, and I have promised myself that I
shall bag the other two by to-night."
"Do you always keep the promises you make
to yourself, Holmes?" said Launcelot, with a
"You just bet your life I do,—every time!
But as His Lordship has evidently filed a nolle
in the case of The State vs. Hicks, we'll go on
with the billiards, with that Canadian gentleman
remaining still unhanged. Now shoot 'em
So saying, the cold-blooded old sleuth sailed
into the game with the other four men, and I sat
tight in one of the chairs and talked about the
weather with Letstrayed, which was about the
extent of the latter's conversational abilities,
although every once in a while I could hear him
say to himself under his breath: "Nine down—two
They played on at the billiard-table for over
two hours, and then it was noontime, and the
still abashed MacTavish, the footman, came in
and announced luncheon.
The Earl led the way down to the dining-room,
and after we had been seated, Holmes
told Harrigan to pass the word out to La Violette
in the kitchen that his Canadian friend had
confessed his share in the diamond robbery, but
that Louis shouldn't worry about any possible
indictment as an accomplice, and that he trusted
that the green peas would be as good as ever,
prepared under his able direction.
"Won't you try some of the Ceylon tea I
brought in, Holmes?" asked Tooter. "I may
as well advertise it all I can, now that you have
exposed my secret salesmanship in the castle."
"No, thanks," said Holmes crisply, "I always
prefer coffee, anyhow,—the stronger the
better; and moreover, I am still more interested
in what I thought that tea-packet was that you
had upstairs when I intruded on your love-making."
"All right, suit yourself then, you old crab!
I'm going right ahead with my plans for marrying
Teresa Olivano anyhow, in spite of you and
the Earl and your dodgasted cuff-buttons."
And Uncle J. Edmund Tooter said no more
for the remainder of the luncheon.
When the meal was over, and Inspector Letstrayed
seemed somewhat more overcome than
usual, the party dispersed, and Holmes and I
took a walk through the rooms on the first floor,—"just
for fun," as he put it. It was then a
little after one o'clock. As we were going
through the kitchen, where the now subdued
La Violette greeted us with a silent bow,
Holmes's eagle eye caught sight of Uncle Tooter's
coat-tail just disappearing behind the cellar-door.
With a whispered warning to me and
a quiet seizure of my arm, Holmes tiptoed
after him, softly opened the cellar-door, and as
Tooter's steps died away along the cement floor
of the cellar, we went inside, locked the door,
and I stationed myself on the top step, while
Holmes went down.
Holmes quietly hid behind a large beer-barrel
at the foot of the stairs, while I could hear old
man Tooter rattling several bottles at the other
end of the cellar, and talking to himself the
"Let's see: Here's the beautiful Amontillado
wine from that lovely Spain that gave me my
Teresa," muttered the aged dotard.
Then I heard the sound of something gurgling
in his throat, evidently the Spanish wine
that he had poured out, as there was always a
good supply of glasses alongside the wine-bins.
"Now where in thunder did I put that diamond
cuff-button?" came the voice of Tooter
again, while I sat still on the top step of the
cellar-stairs, just inside the door, from which
point I could see the tip of Holmes's long, lean,
aquiline nose peering out from behind the barrel
"It isn't under the Muenchener barrel,—it
must be under the Dortmunder," continued
Tooter to himself, as I heard him laboriously
heave over the barrel and paw around on the
cement floor under it, in the space between the
head of the barrel and the raised ends of the
staves, "Ah! here it is,—the cute little diamond
that that nutty George has been after, which I
have been keeping since last Monday to oblige a
fellow-sport, Billie Budd, but which I have decided
must be taken out of the vulgar crude cuff-button
and reset in an engagement ring for
Teresa, since she is so dippy after historical
Then I heard a long-drawn sigh of relief, as
Tooter drew himself a foaming stein-ful of the
In a minute more he started back toward the
stairs, and as he passed the barrel there at the
foot of the stairs, Holmes suddenly jumped out
and grabbed him with both hands, seizing the
diamond cuff-button from him at the same instant.
"Ah! I've got you now, old wine-bibber!
old diamond-thief! Look thou not upon the
German beer when it is light yellow, or it shall
surely get thee, sooner or later!" shouted
Holmes in triumph, while Tooter was so surprised
and scared he could hardly speak. "Watson,
you can unlock the door up there now, and
we'll proceed to the Earl's usual place of business
and disburse unto him his tenth stolen
cuff-button. You fooled me all right yesterday
morning, Tooter, but,—by the brainless cranium
of Barnabas Letstrayed, I've certainly
got the goods on you now!"
I unlocked the cellar-door and stepped out
into the kitchen, where the French and Russian
pancake-tossers stared in astonishment as Hemlock
Holmes came marching up the cellar-stairs
with a firm hand on Uncle Tooter's
shoulder, and then columned left in a parade
through the dining-room on the way to the
"At-ten-shun!" called out my partner. "Present
cuff-button! Salute! Most noble Earl of
Puddingham, here is your tenth and second
last stolen gem!"
Thereupon Holmes laid the glittering thing
in the Earl's hand, while that worthy fell back
weakly in his chair and stammered:
"What? Is Uncle Tooter guilty too? Ye
gods and little fishes! Up to the very last I
had hoped that none of the disgrace of this
robbery would rest upon his sturdy shoulders,
but now I see that it has, anyhow. And I suppose
he claims that Billie Budd made him do it,
against his better nature, like all the other
simps you have jerked up, eh?"
"Yes, Billie Budd was in on this too," replied
Holmes, as he carelessly lit another coffin-nail
and turning around, calmly blew the smoke in
the face of Thorneycroft, who had just come in;
"but the old gent didn't have to tell me that.
I overheard him conversing to himself about it
down in your worshipful wine-cellar, where he
had the cuff-button hidden under a beer-barrel.
If Tooter ever expects to get along well in the
diamond-swiping business, he will certainly
have to cut out the highly reprehensible habit
of talking to himself, particularly when somebody
else might be listening. I guess that's all,
Earl, for the present, although if I were you I
would keep these ten recovered cuff-buttons in
some safer place than that dinky little jewel
cabinet on your dresser, since a little bird recently
informed me that the desperate William
X. Budd, the author of all these atrocities, is
about to visit Normanstow Towers to-morrow
morning, and attempt to carry them all off for
good. Be advised in time now, George."
And Holmes quietly pushed Uncle Tooter
into a Turkish rocker back of him, and walked
serenely out of the room, his cocky old head in
the air, and with me trailing humbly along behind
him, because it had become the usual thing
"Watson," said he, when he had led me out
through a side entrance onto the noble castle
lawn, "something tells me that we should take
a little stroll around these lovely flower-beds
that Herr Blumenroth has been so assiduously
taking care of. See, there's the old boy now,
kneeling down by that geranium bed over there,
while his bone-headed assistant, Demetrius
What's-his-name, wheels the barrowful of fertilizer
down from the shed behind the stables.
Let's go over."
We joined the elderly and phlegmatic gardener,
and after joshing him a little about the
beauty of the plants he was growing, Holmes
began to ask him some leading questions about
whether Lord Launcelot hadn't been loafing
around the flower-beds on the previous Easter
Monday at a time when he naturally would be
expected to be up in the billiard room, shooting
his head off at his favorite indoor game.
Heinrich was not at all backward about informing
on the Earl's junior brother, and I
gathered from his very frank remarks that he,
Heinrich, did not hold a very high opinion of
the said Launcelot's intellectual abilities. It
seems that the latter had been loafing around
Blumenroth most of the day Monday, and several
times the gardener had caught him monkeying
with his trowel, trying to dig up one of
the flower-beds in a very unscientific manner,
which same monkeying had greatly exacerbated
Heinrich's none too admirable temper.
"It looked as if he was trying to hide something
under the ground, Mr. Holmes, like a
dog burying a bone," said the gardener to us;
"and after he had kept it up awhile, interfering
with my work all the time, I could stand it no
longer and told him loudly to beat it, which he
did. As soon as he was gone, I quickly turned
over all the earth in the flower-bed with my
trowel, but couldn't find a thing, so I suppose
the simp must have taken it away with him,
whatever it was."
"Not caring at all whether it was one of the
diamond cuff-buttons we have been after or not,
eh? My, but aren't you the independent cuss,
Heinie? Why didn't you tell me this last Tuesday
morning, when I interrogated you, among
all the servants, huh?"
"Because you simply asked me then what I
knew about the stolen diamonds, and I told you
quite truthfully that I didn't know who stole
them, though I might have added, just as truthfully,
that I didn't care a darn who stole them!
Sufficient unto the job is the regular labor
thereof, without helping quasi-detectives from
London to do their work for them. I'm being
paid by the Earl to take care of the gardens,
and that only; while you're the guy that he's
paying to find his cussed old cuff-buttons for
him. I wouldn't give a nickel for the whole
lot of them, anyhow!"
And the gardener calmly turned his back on
us, and went ahead with his spading up, while
Demetrius spread the fertilizer.
"Gosh, that guy takes my breath away, he's
so fresh! But then, we've got all the information
out of him that we need, so come along,
Holmes then led me back to the castle, where
we entered and proceeded along till we met
Lord Launcelot idly fingering the keys of the
piano in the music-room.
"Ah, good afternoon, Your Lordship," said
Holmes suavely, as we entered the room and
Launcelot faced about on the piano-stool toward
us. "This thing called music is indeed a delightful
surcease from the dull cares of the day, but
finer still would be the resolution in young men
of noble lineage to keep their lily-white hands
off of property that is not listed on the tax-duplicate
in their name, and to refrain from
dishonest and secret contact with uncouth
crooks from Australia, who induce them to forget
their family pride and to conceal valuable
gems from the eye of the law! In other words,
to come right down to brass tacks, you stole
one of the diamond cuff-buttons,—gol darn it!—and
I want you to hand it back to me before
I become so brutal as to seize you and take it
away from you!"
Launcelot, however, did not avow his probable
guilt so readily as his brother's revered
uncle-in-law had done, but laughed right in
Holmes's face as the latter concluded his little
speech of accusation.
"Why, you old false alarm you,—do you
think for a minute that you can bluff me like
that? I didn't take any of the cuff-buttons. Go
on and guess again. Maybe the cat took 'em,
or maybe George walked in his sleep and threw
them away down the road!" said he.
But his pleasantry was lost on Hemlock
Holmes, who advanced a step toward him and,
in menacing tones, demanded the instant return
of the final cuff-button. At this point the
door from the corridor opened, and old Uncle
Tooter came in, without any present contrition
for his recently confessed share in the robbery
showing in his face.
"What's this stiff of a Holmes trying to hand
you now, Launcie my boy?" he inquired, as
Holmes turned and faced him angrily at the
interruption and I held myself ready for an
"Why, the old magnifying-glass-peeker says
that I stole one of the Earl's cuff-buttons!
Wouldn't that frost you? I've been trying to
get it into his head that he's struck a snag
here, but he can't see it that way," replied
Launcelot, rising from the piano-stool and
brushing off his trouser-legs.
"Well, he'll have to, anyhow—that's all,"
said Tooter, and he added, as he grabbed
Holmes around the body with both arms: "Run
like h—— now, Launcie, and I'll hold him until
Launcelot instantly ran out of the room at
top speed, while Holmes and Tooter wrestled
around for a moment; then the former jerked
himself away and chased out into the corridor
after me, and up the stairway, where I had
started to pursue the recreant Launcelot.
"Here, get out of the way, Watson, and let
somebody run that can run!" he yelled, as he
overtook me, legging it up four steps at a time.
The two of us then chased Launcelot up
flight after flight of the green-carpeted stairs,
to the second, third, fourth, and fifth stories,
while I nearly lost my breath as we came to the
fifth and top floor and saw Launcelot disappearing
through a trapdoor leading to the castle
roof. Up the narrow little wooden ladder we
bounced after him, through the trapdoor, and
out onto the broad spreading roof of the ancient
and venerable Normanstow Towers.
"Oh, gee! first down in the cellar, and then
up on the roof! This detective business is getting
my goat!" I panted, leaning against a
chimney-top where I stood gasping for breath,
while the indomitable Holmes pursued the fleeing
Launcelot across the stone roof to the opposite
side, and there cornered him finally in
an angle formed by the battlemented wall surrounding
the roof and a small tower about ten
feet in diameter at its edge.
Launcelot was squeezed up against the gray
stone embrasure at that place by Holmes, who
quickly forced the eleventh and last diamond
cuff-button out of his nerveless grasp, then
turned triumphantly to me, his faithful but out-of-breath
squire, while the spring breezes ruffled
the sparse hair on his uncovered head, and
the gentle afternoon sun shone down on as queer
a scene as had ever taken place during our association,—crying:
"Well, here we are at last, Watson. We've
got each and every one of the Earl's diamonds
now, and our labors are over, with a large part
of County Surrey as the smiling audience for
the finale of our little detective drama, as we
stand up here sixty feet or more above the
ground! Now let's go down and acquaint His
Honor the Earl with the glad tidings before the
wind blows all my hair off!"
He led the way back to the trapdoor, and
down through it to the stairs, with Lord Launcelot
following after us like a whipped cur.
When we got down to the library, which
seemed to be the Earl's usual hang-out, we
found His Lordship sitting in a chair, with a
book in his lap, but with his somewhat gloomy
eyes gazing on the floor, and old Uncle Tooter,
with his back turned to him, looking out of the
window, as if they had just had a quarrel,—which
was the case.
"Two o'clock on Thursday afternoon in
Easter week and all is well, Your Lordship!"
said Holmes triumphantly, with a smile over
his mobile face that spread from ear to ear as
he advanced and politely tendered the final diamond
cuff-button to the Earl. "I have now
the very great pleasure of presenting you with
the last remaining stolen heirloom of the ancient
House of Puddingham, thus recovering all
the articles stolen from you on Easter Sunday
night and throughout Easter Monday, which
recovery is due to my herculean efforts, ably
assisted from time to time by my old side-kicker,
Doctor Watson. The only thing now remaining
to be done is to seize Billie Budd when he comes
up here in disguise to-morrow morning, and
ship him into London with a ball and chain
around his ankles."
The Earl arose and feelingly congratulated
Holmes on the recovery of the gems, shaking
hands with him warmly, and added:
"You will pardon me for not seeming more
enthused over the event than I am, but Uncle
Tooter and I have just had some words, the
result of which is that he will leave this castle
Friday afternoon with his bride-to-be, Teresa
Olivano; and my six good pairs of diamond
cuff-buttons will be sent in by express to the
Bank of England, there to be placed in an iron-bound,
steel-doored safety deposit vault, where
no Billie Budds can break in and hypothecate
"Yes, that's right," said Tooter, facing
around in Holmes's direction; "and I can add
that I am darned glad that I am not to be
shadowed and dogged around by such a long-legged
piece of impudence as you any longer.
If a gentleman decides to play a trick on his
nephew-in-law by hiding a worthless bauble for
a few days, it's none of your business, and he
should not be treated as if he was a hardened
criminal for it. I am worth eight million
pounds, and I don't have to take your sass, or
the Earl's either, if I don't feel like it."
And the speaker cleared his throat and looked
defiantly at me, as if I were responsible for all
of Holmes's actions.
"Eight million pounds of what? Turnips?"
said my unimpressed partner. "That doesn't
cut any ice with me whatever! I only did my
duty in going after the stolen gems in the most
strenuous manner possible, and if you feel like
putting on the gloves with me to have it out, I
will meet you at any time at my rooms, 221-B
Baker Street, in London, and then we'll see
who's the better man."
And Hemlock lit another cigarette.
"Here, here! You don't have to fight about
it, you know. I guess it's bad enough for
Uncle Tooter to leave me to-morrow, without a
threat of fisticuffs. Not that I care a hang about
the social mésalliance he's committing in marrying
the Countess's maid, but the fact of his
implication in the robbery has me all cut up."
"Well, if that's the way you feel about it,
Earl, you'd better grab hold of something for
support when I inform you that the person who
had the eleventh and last cuff-button in his
wrongful possession was none other than your
beloved brother and heir, Lord Launcelot. Here
he comes now. I guess he must have been so
out of breath from that hard race up to the
roof that he couldn't walk down again as fast
as we could."
Here Holmes pointed to Launcelot, who came
into the library just then with a frown on his
face and with most of his recent defiant manner
gone. The Earl sat down hard in his chair,
put his hands over his face for a moment, and
then hollered for help to his best friend,—the
"O Harrigan, Harrigan!" he called, "pour
me out a glass of the stiffest brandy you've got
in the place, with a dash of absinthe in it! Help!
Life-saving service quick!"
"Yes, yes; I'm coming!" shouted Harrigan,
who came running in, and ministered unto the
Earl's needs from the supply of potables that
was always kept handy on the sideboard in the
dining-room, so he wouldn't have to lose so
much time going all the way down to the wine-cellar.
"And say,—pour out a glass or two, or a
decanter or two, of the castle's best wine for
the Honorable Mr. Holmes, who has just now
recovered all my stolen diamond cuff-buttons,
Joe. Give him a barrelful of it if he can stand
it,—give him anything he wants!—only for the
love of Mike let me try to forget that the ancient
honor of our noble House of Dunderhaugh and
Puddingham has gone to pot in the unwelcome
fact that my only brother and sole heir to the
title, that shrimp of a Launcelot, has been mixed
up in the robbery!"
The Earl yammered away at the butler for
some time, while yours truly did not forget to
help himself to the drinks while they were passing
around, although I knew as a physician that
they were not exactly the best thing for the lining
of my stomach.
"Now then, Your Lordship, if you are sufficiently
revived to talk business again, I would
suggest that you give all those eleven recovered
cuff-buttons, together with the twelfth and last
one that the thieves didn't get, to me," said
Holmes, "and I will keep them safely in my
coat-pocket for you until you are ready to send
them in to the bank in the city, protected the
while by the revolver in my hip-pocket. I suppose
you might as well forgive Launcelot as you
forgave the others for their thefts, or rather
for their receipt of stolen goods from Budd, as
the main thing now will be to nab him, the
author of the crime, when he comes to-morrow."
"Yes, I suppose so, Holmes," replied the
Earl. "Come over to my room and I'll give
you all the gems for safe keeping. Launcelot,
you rummie, I'll forgive you, although I
shouldn't; and I warn you and Uncle Tooter
both not to interfere when Holmes arrests Budd
"All right, George. Thanks!" murmured
Launcelot with downcast eyes, and Tooter also
When Holmes had got all the twelve gems
stowed away in his right-hand coat-pocket, the
Earl spoke of writing out a check for the twenty
thousand pounds' reward he had promised him,
but Holmes unexpectedly demurred,—saying he
would wait until Billie Budd was captured first,—instead
of grabbing feverishly for the coin,
as I naturally thought he would.
"Well, there's nothing to do now but kill
time until to-morrow when that scoundrel shows
up in a spurious disguise," said Holmes, as he
moved toward the door. "I move that we shoot
several games of pool upstairs for the rest of
this eventful afternoon.
"It ought to be about time now for old Chief
Sleepy-eye to waddle in and ask about the
stolen gems, after I've dug them all up, I
"Old who, did you say?" inquired Thorneycroft
with a smile.
"Why, old Chief Sleepy-eye,—that lethargic
and comatose old piece of cheese that you call
Letstrayed, of course. I suppose his ancestor
must have got the name Letstrayed because he
was let stray away from some asylum for the
feeble-minded. Look, here he is now! Speak
of the devil and he appears, darned if he
It was indeed the slow-moving and ponderous
Inspector Barnabas Letstrayed that loomed up
in the doorway and inquired about the cuff-buttons,
while Holmes answered him very
"Wake up and come to life, old General Incompetence!
All the eleven shiners have now
been run down and captured before they could
bite anybody, by me, you understand, me,—your
"Well, er—ah, I suppose I shall have to send
in a formal report to Scotland Yard about it,
then, so the authorities will have official cognizance
of the matter," said Letstrayed, as he
scratched his somewhat thick head.
At this moment, the bell rang, and Egbert the
first footman, answering it, brought in a telegram
from Scotland Yard, which Letstrayed
had just mentioned, and handed it to him.
Holmes snatched it out of his hand, tore it
open, and hastily read it to the crowd:
Inspector Barnabas Letstrayed,
Normanstow Towers, Surrey,
Have you found Puddingham's cuff-buttons yet? Answer.
O. U. Doolittle,
Chief of Scotland Yard.
"Wouldn't that knock the specs off your
grandmother's nose?" sneered Holmes.
He hurriedly scrawled a reply, which he gave
to the waiting messenger outside the front door,
while Letstrayed fumed and stammered in
This was the sarcastic message my partner
sent back to London:
O. U. Doolittle (well-named),
Chief of Scotland Yard, London,
No, of course not. How could he, when I grabbed them
all? Now roll over and go to sleep again.
We all gave it up, and willingly joined the
masterful dictator of the castle in the billiard-room
on the fourth floor, where we played pool
and billiards until the evening shadows fell
and Donald the second footman came in and announced
The dinner passed off without excitement, except
for the Earl's rising and proposing the
health of Hemlock Holmes, which was responded
to enthusiastically by all present except
Letstrayed, who insisted on saying "we"
instead of "you" when speaking to Holmes
about the credit for the recovery of the gems.
After dinner we adjourned to the music room,
where the Countess Annabelle entertained us
as on the evening before, playing a number of
selections on the piano, including one little song
entitled, "Once I Loved A Spanish Maid,"
which she repeated a couple of times with the
evident purpose of kidding her uncle about his
forthcoming marriage with her maid Teresa.
The next morning dawned bright and clear,
with the sun shining warmly, and after breakfast
we took a walk around the lawn in the rear
of the castle, where Holmes claimed that intuition
told him that Billie Budd would appear.
It got around to a quarter after nine, and while
we were chinning with Blumenroth the gardener
and Yensen the coachman, I noticed a
farmer dressed in a suit of blue overalls and a
wide-brimmed straw hat come strolling along
the graveled driveway that led back to the stables.
He was a harmless-looking fellow, with
bushy gray whiskers and old-fashioned spectacles,
and he came up and addressed us in a
somewhat squeaky voice, which aroused
Holmes's suspicions at once.
"I say, gentlemen, could you tell me who has
charge of His Lordship's hay in the stables?
My name is Samuel Simmons, a farmer down
the road a piece, and I would like to buy a ton
or two of his hay, if he doesn't want too much
And the alleged farmer took off his old straw
hat and fanned himself with it after his long
"Well, Sam, the guy who has charge of it is
the coachman over there, that fat little fellow
with the red face standing under the peach
tree," replied Holmes in a well modulated tone,
but with his eyes glittering with suppressed excitement.
"And I suppose the Earl would sell
you part of it, as I have good reason to know,
to my cost, that he has more of it up there in the
loft than he needs, and I think that you do, too.
Weren't you up in the hayloft last Tuesday
afternoon, Sam? Sure you were, and what's
more, your name then was William X. Budd or
I'm a Chinaman!"
And Holmes yelled out as he lunged at the
so-called Samuel Simmons and pulled away his
false whiskers, thereby disclosing to my astounded
eyes the well-remembered face of Budd
Budd waited not a second, but put his speedy
limbs into action down the driveway toward the
open road a blamed sight faster than he came
in, his spectacles and straw hat falling to the
ground, while Holmes and I took after him as
rapidly as we could.
"Hey! head him off! head him off there,
somebody, for the love of Heaven!" shouted
Our hopes were rewarded by Harrigan the
butler, who came running out of a side entrance
of the castle and made a flying leap at Budd
from the side, just as the latter passed him.
Harrigan seized the runner around the knees,
and they both came with a crash to the ground
(making as fine a football tackle as I ever saw),
where they rolled and wrestled, the butler on
Holmes and I ran up to them, and we soon
got a pair of handcuffs,—which Holmes always
carried with him,—around Budd's wrists and
jerked him to his feet, while Harrigan arose
and brushed off his clothes, just in time to meet
the Earl, who hastened out of the castle and
came over and clapped the butler on the back,
shaking hands with him effusively.
"By Jove, Harrigan, you're a prince! Accept
my heartiest thanks for the good work you
did in capturing that scoundrel. I saw the
whole thing from one of the windows, and knew
right away that it must be Budd, in spite of the
farmer's disguise," chortled the Earl. "Go inside
and pour yourself out a glass of the best
wine in the place on me!"
Harrigan left us with a grin, while Budd,
handcuffed in Holmes's grasp, stood and
scowled at us and ground his teeth with rage
as the great detective said:
"We've got him at last, Your Lordship, and
he'll certainly get all that's coming to him now.
Just go inside and telephone down to the village
to send up two of their constables, in order
that he may be escorted into London in a manner
befitting the enormity of the crime he has
But as the Earl turned away to reënter the
castle, the desperate Budd made another attempt
to escape, and succeeded in breaking
away from Holmes. Down the driveway he
tore at a mile a minute or so, holding his manacled
hands up before him, while Holmes for a
moment seemed to be dying of heart failure,
judging by the appearance of his face.
"Great guns!" he yelled, and a couple of
other expletives as well, as he ran after the fugitive
again; "he mustn't get away now, after
all the trouble we've had to get him!"
But Budd developed remarkable speed, and
there was no one now to head him off by a flank
movement. But suddenly Holmes spied a
farmer driving a small wagon with a single
horse along the road out in front.
"Here! your horse and wagon are commandeered
in the name of the law!" he shouted,
jumping into the wagon and jerking the reins
away from their astonished owner. Then he
whipped up the horse after the fleeing Budd,
who was making a large cloud of dust behind
himself down the road toward the village. In
a minute or two, the Earl and I, standing on the
front lawn, saw Holmes and the farmer overtake
Budd, with their horse galloping, and the
wagon tearing along most of the time on three
wheels. Leaping out of the wagon at just the
right moment, my resourceful partner landed
squarely on the back of Budd, and bore him to
the ground in a cloud of dust and execrations,
while the farmer, stopping his panting horse,
got out and assisted Holmes to tie up Budd's
ankles with a piece of rope that he fortunately
had with him in the wagon. Then they lifted
the now powerless crook into the wagon, and
drove more slowly back to the castle, while
Holmes explained the situation to the farmer.
"Well, I guess we might as well use this conveyance
to take Budd down to the railroad station
ourselves," said Holmes, as the wagon
stopped in front of us, and he patted his coat-pocket
where he had the dozen cuff-buttons.
"Those constables would probably take a year
getting out here anyhow, and I can also take
your twelve cuff-buttons that caused all the
trouble into London with me, instead of your
waiting to send them by express. I'll take 'em
to the Bank of England all right, get a receipt
from the safety deposit department there, and
mail it to you; and you can mail me your check
for the twenty thousand pounds reward. You
know my address, 221-B Baker Street. I can't
stand on ceremony now, as I want to get this
fellow Budd into the hands of the jailer P. D.
Q., before he pulls off another attempted escape,
so I'll just ask you to say good-by to Her
Ladyship the Countess for me, and give my regards
to Joe Harrigan, Louis La Violette, and
Heinie Blumenroth,—the only three among the
servants who showed any brains,—and my prayers
for brains for all the others. Ta, ta!
George! You're a pretty good fellow yourself!"
"Good-by, Holmes, and my best congratulations
for capturing that man Budd the second
time. I'll mail you the check right away, so
you'll get it this afternoon in town."
And the Earl waved his hand at us, as I
climbed into the wagon and joined Holmes on
our farewell trip. Halfway down to the village,
I took my handkerchief, at Holmes's command,
and made a gag out of it to tie in Budd's mouth,
to prevent the flow of a very profane line of
talk that he inflicted on the atmosphere.
The farmer's name was Henry Hankins, and
Holmes gave him a ten-pound note for his
trouble in helping to recapture Budd. At the
village, the three of us lifted the bound, gagged
and shackled Budd out of the wagon and into a
passenger coach on the 9:50 train for London,
where Holmes silenced all excited inquirers by
calmly showing them his card, at which every
one drew back abashed, some even taking off
their hats at sight of the celebrated name.
In a half-hour's time we arrived at the station
in London, and when Budd was lifted out
onto the platform, he showed his still impenitent
desperation by actually trying to escape a
third time, handcuffed and with his ankles tied
as he was, by hopping along, both feet together.
We collared him soon, though, and bundled
him into a cab for Scotland Yard, where, upon
his arrival, the scoundrel again caused a rumpus
by jumping and twisting around when they
went to put him into a prison-cell, so that it required
the combined efforts of four fat policemen
to hold him down.
"Gosh! I feel as if I could sleep for a year,
after all that excitement out at Normanstow
Towers!" sighed Holmes, as he mopped his
forehead on arriving finally at our old rooms on
Baker Street, about a quarter after eleven that
"Same here, Holmes. You have nothing on
me in that respect," I said, as I threw off my
coat and put on my well-worn lavender smoking
jacket, preparatory to sitting down in my
old chair and enjoying a good, quiet, peaceful
smoke before luncheon, far from the madding
diamond-thieves' ignoble strife.
After luncheon, served by our old reliable
landlady, Mrs. Hudson, who still did business at
the old stand unmoved by the shame that had
recently come to the noble House of Puddingham,
we played chess until two o'clock, when
the mail-carrier brought us an envelope addressed
to Holmes, with an earl's coronet engraved
on it. Tearing it open, Holmes found it
to be a short note from our late host and friend
the Earl, with a thin, pale blue check for twenty
thousand perfectly good pounds sterling enclosed
with it, drawn on the Bank of England,
filled out in Thorneycroft's handwriting, and
signed, as per the nobiliary custom, with simply
the one word: "Puddingham."
"And the date of the check is April 12, 1912,
Watson. And now I'm going to keep my promise
I made to you out in the woods yesterday
morning back of the castle," smiled Holmes,
"I split with you fifty-fifty. When I go down
to the bank now to deposit this check, I'll write
you one of mine for ten thousand pounds, and
you can come along to endorse it, deposit it to
your credit, and we'll leave the Earl's diamond
cuff-buttons at the safety deposit vault, mailing
him the receipt for them from there."
"Holmes, you're certainly a gentleman and
a scholar," I said. "Thanks."
On our return from the bank, after a few
more games of chess, we had an early dinner
and retired to a much needed rest, in our bedroom
adjoining the celebrated sitting-room, but
I couldn't get the case out of my head, and inquired:
"Say, Holmes, old boy, how was it you didn't
grab Launcelot first instead of last, when you
got all the evidence at once?"
Holmes had a grouch on just then,—for some
reason or other,—and he answered me by
throwing one of his shoes in my direction, which
I hastily dodged by shoving my head under the
bedclothes as he growled:
"Didn't you just make the equivalent of
fifty thousand Yankee dollars for three or four
days' work, the most of which I did, Watson?
For the love of Pete, stow it away in your historical
records somewhere and forget it! Dry
up and lemme go to sleep now, or I'll climb out
there and settle your hash for good!"
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