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|The Adventure of the Red Circle||Arthur Conan Doyle|
The Adventure of the Red Circle
|Page 2 of 14||
"What were the terms?"
"Well, sir, they were that he was to have a key of the house. That was all right. Lodgers often have them. Also, that he was to be left entirely to himself and never, upon any excuse, to be disturbed."
"Nothing wonderful in that, surely?"
"Not in reason, sir. But this is out of all reason. He has been there for ten days, and neither Mr. Warren, nor I, nor the girl has once set eyes upon him. We can hear that quick step of his pacing up and down, up and down, night, morning, and noon; but except on that first night he had never once gone out of the house."
"Oh, he went out the first night, did he?"
"Yes, sir, and returned very late--after we were all in bed. He told me after he had taken the rooms that he would do so and asked me not to bar the door. I heard him come up the stair after midnight."
"But his meals?"
"It was his particular direction that we should always, when he rang, leave his meal upon a chair, outside his door. Then he rings again when he has finished, and we take it down from the same chair. If he wants anything else he prints it on a slip of paper and leaves it."
"Yes, sir; prints it in pencil. Just the word, nothing more. Here's the one I brought to show you--soap. Here's another-- match. This is one he left the first morning--daily gazette. I leave that paper with his breakfast every morning."
"Dear me, Watson," said Homes, staring with great curiosity at the slips of foolscap which the landlady had handed to him, "this is certainly a little unusual. Seclusion I can understand; but why print? Printing is a clumsy process. Why not write? What would it suggest, Watson?"
"That he desired to conceal his handwriting."
"But why? What can it matter to him that his landlady should have a word of his writing? Still, it may be as you say. Then, again, why such laconic messages?"
"I cannot imagine."
It opens a pleasing field for intelligent speculation. The words are written with a broad-pointed, violet-tinted pencil of a not unusual pattern. You will observe that the paper is torn away at the side here after the printing was done, so that the 's' of 'soap' is partly gone. Suggestive, Watson, is it not?"
"Exactly. There was evidently some mark, some thumbprint, something which might give a clue to the person's identity. Now. Mrs. Warren, you say that the man was of middle size, dark, and bearded. What age would he be?"
"Youngish, sir--not over thirty."
"Well, can you give me no further indications?"
"He spoke good English, sir, and yet I thought he was a foreigner by his accent."
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|The Adventure of the Red Circle
Arthur Conan Doyle
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