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The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
It may have been a comedy, or it may have been a tragedy. It cost one man his reason, it cost me a blood-letting, and it cost yet another man the penalties of the law. Yet there was certainly an element of comedy. Well, you shall judge for yourselves.
I remember the date very well, for, it was in the same month that Holmes refused a knighthood for services which may perhaps some day be described. I only refer to the matter in passing, for, in my position of partner and confidant I am obliged to be particularly careful to avoid any indiscretion. I repeat, however, that this enables me to fix the date, which was the latter end of June 1902, shortly after the conclusion of the South African War. Holmes had spent several days in bed, as was his habit from time to time, but he emerged that morning with a long foolscap document in his hand and a twinkle of amusement in his austere grey eyes.
‘There is a chance for you to make some money, friend Watson,’ said he. ‘Have you ever heard the name of Garrideb?’ I admitted that I had not. ‘Well, if you can lay your hand upon a Garrideb, there’s money in it.’ ‘Why?’
‘Ah, that’s a long story—rather a whimsical one, too. I don’t think in all our explorations of human complexities we have ever come upon anything more singular. The fellow will be here presently for cross-examination, so I won’t open the matter up till he comes. But meanwhile, that’s the name we want.’
The telephone directory lay on the table beside me and I turned over the pages in a rather hopeless quest. But to my amazement there was this strange name in its due place. I gave a cry of triumph. Here you are Holmes! Here it is!’ Holmes took the book from my hand. ‘Garrideb, N.’ he read, ‘136, Little Ryder Street, W. Sorry to disappoint you, my dear Watson, but this is the man himself. That is the address upon his letter. We want another to match him.’
Mrs Hudson had come in with a card upon a tray. I took it up and glanced at it. ‘Why, here it is!’ I cried in amazement. ‘This is a different initial. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law, Moorville, Kansas, U.S.A.’ Holmes smiled as he looked at the card. ‘I am afraid you must make yet another effort, Watson,’ said he. ‘This gentleman is also in the plot already, though I certainly did not expect to see him this morning. However, he is in a position to tell us a good deal which I want to know.’ A moment later he was in the room. Mr John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law, was a short, powerful man with the round, fresh clean-shaven face characteristic of so many American men of affairs. The general effect was chubby and rather childlike, so that one received the impression of quite a young man with a broad set smile upon his face. His eyes, however, were arresting. Seldom in any human head have I seen a pair which bespoke a more intense inward life, so bright were they, so alert, so responsive to every change of thought. His accent was American but wasnot accompanied by any eccentricity of speech.
UNDERSTANDING THE TEXT
1. What clues did Sherlock Holmes work upon to get at the fact that the story of the three Garridebs was a ruse?
2. What was John Garrideb’s objective in inventing the story of Alexander Hamilton Garrideb and his legacy?
3. Why didn’t John Garrideb like the idea of including Holmes in the hunt for the third Garrideb?
4. Who was Roger Presbury and how was John Garrideb connected with him?
5. How did Holmes guess that John Garrideb would go to 136, Little Ryder Street? Did he expect to find what he ultimately did before he went there?
TALKING ABOUT THE TEXT
Discuss the following in pairs or in small groups
1. ‘It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love that lay behind that cold mask’— how does this comment throw light on the kind of relationshipbetween Holmes and Watson?
2. The cleverest of criminals leave behind clues to their crime.
3. How did Holmes’ digressions sometimes prove in the end to have a bearing on the matter on hand? Discuss this with reference to all the apparently information from.
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