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  • THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

  • ADVENTURE V. THE FIVE ORANGE PIPS

  • When I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock Holmes cases between the years

  • '82 and '90, I am faced by so many which present strange and interesting features

  • that it is no easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave.

  • Some, however, have already gained publicity through the papers, and others

  • have not offered a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed in so

  • high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to illustrate.

  • Some, too, have baffled his analytical skill, and would be, as narratives,

  • beginnings without an ending, while others have been but partially cleared up, and

  • have their explanations founded rather upon

  • conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to

  • him.

  • There is, however, one of these last which was so remarkable in its details and so

  • startling in its results that I am tempted to give some account of it in spite of the

  • fact that there are points in connection

  • with it which never have been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared up.

  • The year '87 furnished us with a long series of cases of greater or less

  • interest, of which I retain the records.

  • Among my headings under this one twelve months I find an account of the adventure

  • of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant Society, who held a luxurious

  • club in the lower vault of a furniture

  • warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the British barque "Sophy

  • Anderson", of the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa,

  • and finally of the Camberwell poisoning case.

  • In the latter, as may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able, by winding up the

  • dead man's watch, to prove that it had been wound up two hours before, and that

  • therefore the deceased had gone to bed

  • within that time--a deduction which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the

  • case.

  • All these I may sketch out at some future date, but none of them present such

  • singular features as the strange train of circumstances which I have now taken up my

  • pen to describe.

  • It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with

  • exceptional violence.

  • All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that

  • even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds

  • for the instant from the routine of life

  • and to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at

  • mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts in a

  • cage.

  • As evening drew in, the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed

  • like a child in the chimney.

  • Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fireplace cross-indexing his records of

  • crime, while I at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories until

  • the howl of the gale from without seemed to

  • blend with the text, and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of

  • the sea waves.

  • My wife was on a visit to her mother's, and for a few days I was a dweller once more in

  • my old quarters at Baker Street. "Why," said I, glancing up at my companion,

  • "that was surely the bell.

  • Who could come to-night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?"

  • "Except yourself I have none," he answered. "I do not encourage visitors."

  • "A client, then?"

  • "If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out on such

  • a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more likely to be

  • some crony of the landlady's."

  • Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there came a step

  • in the passage and a tapping at the door.

  • He stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and towards the

  • vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit.

  • "Come in!" said he.

  • The man who entered was young, some two- and-twenty at the outside, well-groomed and

  • trimly clad, with something of refinement and delicacy in his bearing.

  • The streaming umbrella which he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told

  • of the fierce weather through which he had come.

  • He looked about him anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his face

  • was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man who is weighed down with some great

  • anxiety.

  • "I owe you an apology," he said, raising his golden pince-nez to his eyes.

  • "I trust that I am not intruding. I fear that I have brought some traces of

  • the storm and rain into your snug chamber."

  • "Give me your coat and umbrella," said Holmes.

  • "They may rest here on the hook and will be dry presently.

  • You have come up from the south-west, I see."

  • "Yes, from Horsham." "That clay and chalk mixture which I see

  • upon your toe caps is quite distinctive."

  • "I have come for advice." "That is easily got."

  • "And help." "That is not always so easy."

  • "I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes.

  • I heard from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal."

  • "Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at

  • cards."

  • "He said that you could solve anything." "He said too much."

  • "That you are never beaten." "I have been beaten four times--three times

  • by men, and once by a woman."

  • "But what is that compared with the number of your successes?"

  • "It is true that I have been generally successful."

  • "Then you may be so with me."

  • "I beg that you will draw your chair up to the fire and favour me with some details as

  • to your case." "It is no ordinary one."

  • "None of those which come to me are.

  • I am the last court of appeal."

  • "And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you have ever listened to

  • a more mysterious and inexplicable chain of events than those which have happened in my

  • own family."

  • "You fill me with interest," said Holmes. "Pray give us the essential facts from the

  • commencement, and I can afterwards question you as to those details which seem to me to

  • be most important."

  • The young man pulled his chair up and pushed his wet feet out towards the blaze.

  • "My name," said he, "is John Openshaw, but my own affairs have, as far as I can

  • understand, little to do with this awful business.

  • It is a hereditary matter; so in order to give you an idea of the facts, I must go

  • back to the commencement of the affair. "You must know that my grandfather had two

  • sons--my uncle Elias and my father Joseph.

  • My father had a small factory at Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the

  • invention of bicycling.

  • He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire, and his business met with

  • such success that he was able to sell it and to retire upon a handsome competence.

  • "My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young man and became a planter in

  • Florida, where he was reported to have done very well.

  • At the time of the war he fought in Jackson's army, and afterwards under Hood,

  • where he rose to be a colonel.

  • When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his plantation, where he

  • remained for three or four years.

  • About 1869 or 1870 he came back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex, near

  • Horsham.

  • He had made a very considerable fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving them

  • was his aversion to the negroes, and his dislike of the Republican policy in

  • extending the franchise to them.

  • He was a singular man, fierce and quick- tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was

  • angry, and of a most retiring disposition.

  • During all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the

  • town.

  • He had a garden and two or three fields round his house, and there he would take

  • his exercise, though very often for weeks on end he would never leave his room.

  • He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very heavily, but he would see no society

  • and did not want any friends, not even his own brother.

  • "He didn't mind me; in fact, he took a fancy to me, for at the time when he saw me

  • first I was a youngster of twelve or so. This would be in the year 1878, after he

  • had been eight or nine years in England.

  • He begged my father to let me live with him and he was very kind to me in his way.

  • When he was sober he used to be fond of playing backgammon and draughts with me,

  • and he would make me his representative both with the servants and with the

  • tradespeople, so that by the time that I

  • was sixteen I was quite master of the house.

  • I kept all the keys and could go where I liked and do what I liked, so long as I did

  • not disturb him in his privacy.

  • There was one singular exception, however, for he had a single room, a lumber-room up

  • among the attics, which was invariably locked, and which he would never permit

  • either me or anyone else to enter.

  • With a boy's curiosity I have peeped through the keyhole, but I was never able

  • to see more than such a collection of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in

  • such a room.

  • "One day--it was in March, 1883--a letter with a foreign stamp lay upon the table in

  • front of the colonel's plate.

  • It was not a common thing for him to receive letters, for his bills were all

  • paid in ready money, and he had no friends of any sort.

  • 'From India!' said he as he took it up, 'Pondicherry postmark!

  • What can this be?'

  • Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped five little dried orange pips, which pattered

  • down upon his plate.

  • I began to laugh at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at the sight of his

  • face.

  • His lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his skin the colour of putty,

  • and he glared at the envelope which he still held in his trembling hand, 'K. K.

  • K.!' he shrieked, and then, 'My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!'

  • "'What is it, uncle?' I cried.

  • "'Death,' said he, and rising from the table he retired to his room, leaving me

  • palpitating with horror.

  • I took up the envelope and saw scrawled in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the

  • gum, the letter K three times repeated. There was nothing else save the five dried

  • pips.

  • What could be the reason of his overpowering terror?

  • I left the breakfast-table, and as I ascended the stair I met him coming down

  • with an old rusty key, which must have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and a

  • small brass box, like a cashbox, in the other.

  • "'They may do what they like, but I'll checkmate them still,' said he with an

  • oath.

  • 'Tell Mary that I shall want a fire in my room to-day, and send down to Fordham, the

  • Horsham lawyer.' "I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer

  • arrived I was asked to step up to the room.

  • The fire was burning brightly, and in the grate there was a mass of black, fluffy

  • ashes, as of burned paper, while the brass box stood open and empty beside it.

  • As I glanced at the box I noticed, with a start, that upon the lid was printed the

  • treble K which I had read in the morning upon the envelope.

  • "'I wish you, John,' said my uncle, 'to witness my will.

  • I leave my estate, with all its advantages and all its disadvantages, to my brother,

  • your father, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you.

  • If you can enjoy it in peace, well and good!

  • If you find you cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave it to your deadliest enemy.

  • I am sorry to give you such a two-edged thing, but I can't say what turn things are

  • going to take. Kindly sign the paper where Mr. Fordham

  • shows you.'

  • "I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer took it away with him.

  • The singular incident made, as you may think, the deepest impression upon me, and

  • I pondered over it and turned it every way in my mind without being able to make

  • anything of it.

  • Yet I could not shake off the vague feeling of dread which it left behind, though the

  • sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed and nothing happened to disturb the

  • usual routine of our lives.

  • I could see a change in my uncle, however. He drank more than ever, and he was less

  • inclined for any sort of society.

  • Most of his time he would spend in his room, with the door locked upon the inside,

  • but sometimes he would emerge in a sort of drunken frenzy and would burst out of the

  • house and tear about the garden with a

  • revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was afraid of no man, and that he was not

  • to be cooped up, like a sheep in a pen, by man or devil.

  • When these hot fits were over, however, he would rush tumultuously in at the door and

  • lock and bar it behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no longer against the

  • terror which lies at the roots of his soul.

  • At such times I have seen his face, even on a cold day, glisten with moisture, as

  • though it were new raised from a basin.

  • "Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. Holmes, and not to abuse your patience,

  • there came a night when he made one of those drunken sallies from which he never

  • came back.

  • We found him, when we went to search for him, face downward in a little green-

  • scummed pool, which lay at the foot of the garden.

  • There was no sign of any violence, and the water was but two feet deep, so that the

  • jury, having regard to his known eccentricity, brought in a verdict of

  • 'suicide.'

  • But I, who knew how he winced from the very thought of death, had much ado to persuade

  • myself that he had gone out of his way to meet it.

  • The matter passed, however, and my father entered into possession of the estate, and

  • of some 14,000 pounds, which lay to his credit at the bank."

  • "One moment," Holmes interposed, "your statement is, I foresee, one of the most

  • remarkable to which I have ever listened.

  • Let me have the date of the reception by your uncle of the letter, and the date of

  • his supposed suicide." "The letter arrived on March 10, 1883.

  • His death was seven weeks later, upon the night of May 2nd."

  • "Thank you. Pray proceed."

  • "When my father took over the Horsham property, he, at my request, made a careful

  • examination of the attic, which had been always locked up.

  • We found the brass box there, although its contents had been destroyed.

  • On the inside of the cover was a paper label, with the initials of K. K. K.

  • repeated upon it, and 'Letters, memoranda, receipts, and a register' written beneath.

  • These, we presume, indicated the nature of the papers which had been destroyed by

  • Colonel Openshaw.