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  • THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by

  • SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

  • ADVENTURE I.

  • A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA

  • I.

  • To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.

  • I have seldom heard him mention her under

  • any other name.

  • In his eyes she eclipses and predominates

  • the whole of her sex.

  • It was not that he felt any emotion akin to

  • love for Irene Adler.

  • All emotions, and that one particularly,

  • were abhorrent to his cold, precise but

  • admirably balanced mind.

  • He was, I take it, the most perfect

  • reasoning and observing machine that the

  • world has seen, but as a lover he would

  • have placed himself in a false position.

  • He never spoke of the softer passions, save

  • with a gibe and a sneer.

  • They were admirable things for the

  • observer--excellent for drawing the veil

  • from men's motives and actions.

  • But for the trained reasoner to admit such

  • intrusions into his own delicate and finely

  • adjusted temperament was to introduce a

  • distracting factor which might throw a

  • doubt upon all his mental results.

  • Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack

  • in one of his own high-power lenses, would

  • not be more disturbing than a strong

  • emotion in a nature such as his.

  • And yet there was but one woman to him, and

  • that woman was the late Irene Adler, of

  • dubious and questionable memory.

  • I had seen little of Holmes lately.

  • My marriage had drifted us away from each

  • other.

  • My own complete happiness, and the home-

  • centred interests which rise up around the

  • man who first finds himself master of his

  • own establishment, were sufficient to

  • absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who

  • loathed every form of society with his

  • whole Bohemian soul, remained in our

  • lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his

  • old books, and alternating from week to

  • week between cocaine and ambition, the

  • drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce

  • energy of his own keen nature.

  • He was still, as ever, deeply attracted by

  • the study of crime, and occupied his

  • immense faculties and extraordinary powers

  • of observation in following out those

  • clues, and clearing up those mysteries

  • which had been abandoned as hopeless by the

  • official police.

  • From time to time I heard some vague

  • account of his doings: of his summons to

  • Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder,

  • of his clearing up of the singular tragedy

  • of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee,

  • and finally of the mission which he had

  • accomplished so delicately and successfully

  • for the reigning family of Holland.

  • Beyond these signs of his activity,

  • however, which I merely shared with all the

  • readers of the daily press, I knew little

  • of my former friend and companion.

  • One night--it was on the twentieth of

  • March, 1888--I was returning from a journey

  • to a patient (for I had now returned to

  • civil practice), when my way led me through

  • Baker Street.

  • As I passed the well-remembered door, which

  • must always be associated in my mind with

  • my wooing, and with the dark incidents of

  • the Study in Scarlet, I was seized with a

  • keen desire to see Holmes again, and to

  • know how he was employing his extraordinary

  • powers.

  • His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even

  • as I looked up, I saw his tall, spare

  • figure pass twice in a dark silhouette

  • against the blind.

  • He was pacing the room swiftly, eagerly,

  • with his head sunk upon his chest and his

  • hands clasped behind him.

  • To me, who knew his every mood and habit,

  • his attitude and manner told their own

  • story.

  • He was at work again.

  • He had risen out of his drug-created dreams

  • and was hot upon the scent of some new

  • problem.

  • I rang the bell and was shown up to the

  • chamber which had formerly been in part my

  • own.

  • His manner was not effusive.

  • It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to

  • see me.

  • With hardly a word spoken, but with a

  • kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair,

  • threw across his case of cigars, and

  • indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in

  • the corner.

  • Then he stood before the fire and looked me

  • over in his singular introspective fashion.

  • \"Wedlock suits you,\" he remarked.

  • \"I think, Watson, that you have put on

  • seven and a half pounds since I saw you.\"

  • \"Seven!\"

  • I answered.

  • \"Indeed, I should have thought a little

  • more.

  • Just a trifle more, I fancy, Watson.

  • And in practice again, I observe.

  • You did not tell me that you intended to go

  • into harness.\"

  • \"Then, how do you know?\"

  • \"I see it, I deduce it.

  • How do I know that you have been getting

  • yourself very wet lately, and that you have

  • a most clumsy and careless servant girl?\"

  • \"My dear Holmes,\" said I, \"this is too

  • much.

  • You would certainly have been burned, had

  • you lived a few centuries ago.

  • It is true that I had a country walk on

  • Thursday and came home in a dreadful mess,

  • but as I have changed my clothes I can't

  • imagine how you deduce it.

  • As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and

  • my wife has given her notice, but there,

  • again, I fail to see how you work it out.\"

  • He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long,

  • nervous hands together.

  • \"It is simplicity itself,\" said he; \"my

  • eyes tell me that on the inside of your

  • left shoe, just where the firelight strikes

  • it, the leather is scored by six almost

  • parallel cuts.

  • Obviously they have been caused by someone

  • who has very carelessly scraped round the

  • edges of the sole in order to remove

  • crusted mud from it.

  • Hence, you see, my double deduction that

  • you had been out in vile weather, and that

  • you had a particularly malignant boot-

  • slitting specimen of the London slavey.

  • As to your practice, if a gentleman walks

  • into my rooms smelling of iodoform, with a

  • black mark of nitrate of silver upon his

  • right forefinger, and a bulge on the right

  • side of his top-hat to show where he has

  • secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull,

  • indeed, if I do not pronounce him to be an

  • active member of the medical profession.\"

  • I could not help laughing at the ease with

  • which he explained his process of

  • deduction.

  • \"When I hear you give your reasons,\" I

  • remarked, \"the thing always appears to me

  • to be so ridiculously simple that I could

  • easily do it myself, though at each

  • successive instance of your reasoning I am

  • baffled until you explain your process.

  • And yet I believe that my eyes are as good

  • as yours.\"

  • \"Quite so,\" he answered, lighting a

  • cigarette, and throwing himself down into

  • an armchair.

  • \"You see, but you do not observe.

  • The distinction is clear.

  • For example, you have frequently seen the

  • steps which lead up from the hall to this

  • room.\"

  • \"Frequently.\"

  • \"How often?\"

  • \"Well, some hundreds of times.\"

  • \"Then how many are there?\"

  • \"How many?

  • I don't know.\"

  • \"Quite so!

  • You have not observed.

  • And yet you have seen.

  • That is just my point.

  • Now, I know that there are seventeen steps,

  • because I have both seen and observed.

  • By-the-way, since you are interested in

  • these little problems, and since you are

  • good enough to chronicle one or two of my

  • trifling experiences, you may be interested

  • in this.\"

  • He threw over a sheet of thick, pink-tinted

  • note-paper which had been lying open upon

  • the table.

  • \"It came by the last post,\" said he.

  • \"Read it aloud.\"

  • The note was undated, and without either

  • signature or address.

  • \"There will call upon you to-night, at a

  • quarter to eight o'clock,\" it said, \"a

  • gentleman who desires to consult you upon a

  • matter of the very deepest moment.

  • Your recent services to one of the royal

  • houses of Europe have shown that you are

  • one who may safely be trusted with matters

  • which are of an importance which can hardly

  • be exaggerated.

  • This account of you we have from all

  • quarters received.

  • Be in your chamber then at that hour, and

  • do not take it amiss if your visitor wear a

  • mask.\"

  • \"This is indeed a mystery,\" I remarked.

  • \"What do you imagine that it means?\"

  • \"I have no data yet.

  • It is a capital mistake to theorize before

  • one has data.

  • Insensibly one begins to twist facts to

  • suit theories, instead of theories to suit

  • facts.

  • But the note itself.

  • What do you deduce from it?\"

  • I carefully examined the writing, and the

  • paper upon which it was written.

  • \"The man who wrote it was presumably well

  • to do,\" I remarked, endeavouring to imitate

  • my companion's processes.

  • \"Such paper could not be bought under half

  • a crown a packet.

  • It is peculiarly strong and stiff.\"

  • \"Peculiar--that is the very word,\" said

  • Holmes.

  • \"It is not an English paper at all.

  • Hold it up to the light.\"

  • I did so, and saw a large \"E\" with a small

  • \"g,\" a \"P,\" and a large \"G\" with a small

  • \"t\" woven into the texture of the paper.

  • \"What do you make of that?\" asked Holmes.

  • \"The name of the maker, no doubt; or his

  • monogram, rather.\"

  • \"Not at all.

  • The 'G' with the small 't' stands for

  • 'Gesellschaft,' which is the German for

  • 'Company.'

  • It is a customary contraction like our

  • 'Co.'

  • 'P,' of course, stands for 'Papier.'

  • Now for the 'Eg.'

  • Let us glance at our Continental

  • Gazetteer.\"

  • He took down a heavy brown volume from his

  • shelves.

  • \"Eglow, Eglonitz