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Then he stood before the fire and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion. 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. How do I know that you have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy and careless servant girl? You would certainly have been burned, had you lived a few centuries ago. 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.

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.

And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.

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.

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Sherlock Holmes And A Scandal In Bohemia #1

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. 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. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.

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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? It is peculiarly strong and stiff. Hold it up to the light. It is in a German-speaking country—in Bohemia, not far from Carlsbad. And the man who wrote the note is a German. It is the German who is so uncourteous to his verbs. It only remains, therefore, to discover what is wanted by this German who writes upon Bohemian paper and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face.


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And here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to resolve all our doubts. Holmes whistled. A hundred and fifty guineas apiece. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it. I may want your help, and so may he. Here he comes.

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Sit down in that armchair, Doctor, and give us your best attention. A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs and in the passage, paused immediately outside the door. Then there was a loud and authoritative tap. A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. His dress was rich with a richness which would, in England, be looked upon as akin to bad taste.

Heavy bands of astrakhan were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders was lined with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck with a brooch which consisted of a single flaming beryl. Boots which extended halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance. He carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across the upper part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a black vizard mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered.

From the lower part of the face he appeared to be a man of strong character, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight chin suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of obstinacy. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help me in my cases. Whom have I the honour to address? I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honour and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to communicate with you alone. I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed me back into my chair.

The Count shrugged his broad shoulders.


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  • At present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it may have an influence upon European history. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia. Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid, lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to him as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impatiently at his gigantic client. The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room in uncontrollable agitation.

    Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. Why should I attempt to conceal it? Yet the matter was so delicate that I could not confide it to an agent without putting myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the purpose of consulting you.

    The name is no doubt familiar to you. For many years he had adopted a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information. In this case I found her biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff-commander who had written a monograph upon the deep-sea fishes. Born in New Jersey in the year La Scala, hum! Prima donna Imperial Opera of Warsaw—yes! Retired from operatic stage—ha! Living in London—quite so! Your Majesty, as I understand, became entangled with this young person, wrote her some compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those letters back.

    If this young person should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity? Twice burglars in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result.