Chapter II: Strange Instructions
Superintendent Dolan went quietly to the door; by a sort of natural
understanding he had taken possession of affairs in the room. The rest
of us waited. He opened the door a little way; and then with a gesture
of manifest relief threw it wide, and a young man stepped in. A young
man clean-shaven, tall and slight; with an eagle face and bright, quick
eyes that seemed to take in everything around him at a glance. As he
came in, the Superintendent held out his hand; the two men shook hands
"I came at once, sir, the moment I got your message. I am glad I still
have your confidence."
"That you'll always have," said the Superintendent heartily. "I have
not forgotten our old Bow Street days, and I never shall!" Then,
without a word of preliminary, he began to tell everything he knew up to
the moment of the newcomer's entry. Sergeant Daw asked a few questions--a
very few--when it was necessary for his understanding of circumstances or
the relative positions of persons; but as a rule Dolan, who knew his
work thoroughly, forestalled every query, and explained all necessary
matters as he went on. Sergeant Daw threw occasionally swift glances
round him; now at one of us; now at the room or some part of it; now at
the wounded man lying senseless on the sofa.
When the Superintendent had finished, the Sergeant turned to me and
"Perhaps you remember me, sir. I was with you in that Hoxton case."
"I remember you very well," I said as I held out my hand. The
Superintendent spoke again:
"You understand, Sergeant Daw, that you are put in full charge of this
"Under you I hope, sir," he interrupted. The other shook his head and
smiled as he said:
"It seems to me that this is a case that will take all a man's time and
his brains. I have other work to do; but I shall be more than
interested, and if I can help in any possible way I shall be glad to do
"All right, sir," said the other, accepting his responsibility with a
sort of modified salute; straightway he began his investigation.
First he came over to the Doctor and, having learned his name and
address, asked him to write a full report which he could use, and which
he could refer to headquarters if necessary. Doctor Winchester bowed
gravely as he promised. Then the Sergeant approached me and said sotto
"I like the look of your doctor. I think we can work together!"
Turning to Miss Trelawny he asked:
"Please let me know what you can of your Father; his ways of life, his
history--in fact of anything of whatsoever kind which interests him, or
in which he may be concerned." I was about to interrupt to tell him
what she had already said of her ignorance in all matters of her father
and his ways, but her warning hand was raised to me pointedly and she
"Alas! I know little or nothing. Superintendent Dolan and Mr. Ross
know already all I can say."
"Well, ma'am, we must be content to do what we can," said the officer
genially. "I'll begin by making a minute examination. You say that you
were outside the door when you heard the noise?"
"I was in my room when I heard the queer sound--indeed it must have been
the early part of whatever it was which woke me. I came out of my room
at once. Father's door was shut, and I could see the whole landing and
the upper slopes of the staircase. No one could have left by the door
unknown to me, if that is what you mean!"
"That is just what I do mean, miss. If every one who knows anything
will tell me as well as that, we shall soon get to the bottom of this."
He then went over to the bed, looked at it carefully, and asked:
"Has the bed been touched?"
"Not to my knowledge," said Miss Trelawny, "but I shall ask Mrs. Grant--
the housekeeper," she added as she rang the bell. Mrs. Grant answered
it in person. "Come in," said Miss Trelawny. "These gentlemen want to
know, Mrs. Grant, if the bed has been touched."
"Not by me, ma'am."
"Then," said Miss Trelawny, turning to Sergeant Daw, "it cannot have
been touched by any one. Either Mrs. Grant or I myself was here all the
time, and I do not think any of the servants who came when I gave the
alarm were near the bed at all. You see, Father lay here just under the
great safe, and every one crowded round him. We sent them all away in a
very short time." Daw, with a motion of his hand, asked us all to stay
at the other side of the room whilst with a magnifying-glass he examined
the bed, taking care as he moved each fold of the bed-clothes to replace
it in exact position. Then he examined with his magnifying-glass the
floor beside it, taking especial pains where the blood had trickled over
the side of the bed, which was of heavy red wood handsomely carved.
Inch by inch, down on his knees, carefully avoiding any touch with the
stains on the floor, he followed the blood-marks over to the spot, close
under the great safe, where the body had lain. All around and about
this spot he went for a radius of some yards; but seemingly did not meet
with anything to arrest special attention. Then he examined the front
of the safe; round the lock, and along the bottom and top of the double
doors, more especially at the places of their touching in front.
Next he went to the windows, which were fastened down with the hasps.
"Were the shutters closed?" he asked Miss Trelawny in a casual way as
though he expected the negative answer, which came.
All this time Doctor Winchester was attending to his patient; now
dressing the wounds in the wrist or making minute examination all over
the head and throat, and over the heart. More than once he put his nose
to the mouth of the senseless man and sniffed. Each time he did so he
finished up by unconsciously looking round the room, as though in search
Then we heard the deep strong voice of the Detective:
"So far as I can see, the object was to bring that key to the lock of
the safe. There seems to be some secret in the mechanism that I am
unable to guess at, though I served a year in Chubb's before I joined
the police. It is a combination lock of seven letters; but there seems
to be a way of locking even the combination. It is one of Chatwood's; I
shall call at their place and find out something about it." Then
turning to the Doctor, as though his own work were for the present done,
"Have you anything you can tell me at once, Doctor, which will not
interfere with your full report? If there is any doubt I can wait, but
the sooner I know something definite the better." Doctor Winchester
answered at once:
"For my own part I see no reason in waiting. I shall make a full report
of course. But in the meantime I shall tell you all I know--which is
after all not very much, and all I think--which is less definite. There
is no wound on the head which could account for the state of stupor in
which the patient continues. I must, therefore, take it that either he
has been drugged or is under some hypnotic influence. So far as I can
judge, he has not been drugged--at least by means of any drug of whose
qualities I am aware. Of course, there is ordinarily in this room so
much of a mummy smell that it is difficult to be certain about anything
having a delicate aroma. I dare say that you have noticed the peculiar
Egyptians scents, bitumen, nard, aromatic gums and spices, and so forth.
It is quite possible that somewhere in this room, amongst the curios and
hidden by stronger scents, is some substance or liquid which may have
the effect we see. It is possible that the patient has taken some drug,
and that he may in some sleeping phase have injured himself. I do not
think this is likely; and circumstances, other than those which I have
myself been investigating, may prove that this surmise is not correct.
But in the meantime it is possible; and must, till it be disproved, be
kept within our purview." Here Sergeant Daw interrupted:
"That may be, but if so, we should be able to find the instrument with
which the wrist was injured. There would be marks of blood somewhere."
"Exactly so!" said the Doctor, fixing his glasses as though preparing
for an argument. "But if it be that the patient has used some strange
drug, it may be one that does not take effect at once. As we are as yet
ignorant of its potentialities--if, indeed, the whole surmise is correct
at all--we must be prepared at all points."
Here Miss Trelawny joined in the conversation:
"That would be quite right, so far as the action of the drug was
concerned; but according to the second part of your surmise the wound
may have been self-inflicted, and this after the drug had taken
"True!" said the Detective and the Doctor simultaneously. She went on:
"As however, Doctor, your guess does not exhaust the possibilities, we
must bear in mind that some other variant of the same root-idea may be
correct. I take it, therefore, that our first search, to be made on
this assumption, must be for the weapon with which the injury was done
to my Father's wrist."
"Perhaps he put the weapon in the safe before he became quite
unconscious," said I, giving voice foolishly to a half-formed thought.
"That could not be," said the Doctor quickly. "At least I think it
could hardly be," he added cautiously, with a brief bow to me. "You
see, the left hand is covered with blood; but there is no blood mark
whatever on the safe."
"Quite right!" I said, and there was a long pause.
The first to break the silence was the Doctor.
"We shall want a nurse here as soon as possible; and I know the very one
to suit. I shall go at once to get her if I can. I must ask that till
I return some of you will remain constantly with the patient. It may be
necessary to remove him to another room later on; but in the meantime he
is best left here. Miss Trelawny, may I take it that either you or Mrs.
Grant will remain here--not merely in the room, but close to the patient
and watchful of him--till I return?"
She bowed in reply, and took a seat beside the sofa. The Doctor gave
her some directions as to what she should do in case her father should
become conscious before his return.
The next to move was Superintendent Dolan, who came close to Sergeant
Daw as he said:
"I had better return now to the station--unless, of course, you should
wish me to remain for a while."
He answered, "Is Johnny Wright still in your division?"
"Yes! Would you like him to be with you?" The other nodded reply.
"Then I will send him on to you as soon as can be arranged. He shall
then stay with you as long as you wish. I will tell him that he is to
take his instructions entirely from you."
The Sergeant accompanied him to the door, saying as he went:
"Thank you, sir; you are always thoughtful for men who are working with
you. It is a pleasure to me to be with you again. I shall go back to
Scotland Yard and report to my chief. Then I shall call at Chatwood's;
and I shall return here as soon as possible. I suppose I may take it,
miss, that I may put up here for a day or two, if required. It may be
some help, or possibly some comfort to you, if I am about, until we
unravel this mystery."
"I shall be very grateful to you." He looked keenly at her for a few
seconds before he spoke again.
"Before I go have I permission to look about your Father's table and
desk? There might be something which would give us a clue--or a lead at
all events." Her answer was so unequivocal as almost to surprise him.
"You have the fullest possible permission to do anything which may help
us in this dreadful trouble--to discover what it is that is wrong with my
Father, or which may shield him in the future!"
He began at once a systematic search of the dressing-table, and after
that of the writing-table in the room. In one of the drawers he found a
letter sealed; this he brought at once across the room and handed to
"A letter--directed to me--and in my Father's hand!" she said as she
eagerly opened it. I watched her face as she began to read; but seeing
at once that Sergeant Daw kept his keen eyes on her face, unflinchingly
watching every flitting expression, I kept my eyes henceforth fixed on
his. When Miss Trelawny had read her letter through, I had in my mind a
conviction, which, however, I kept locked in my own heart. Amongst the
suspicions in the mind of the Detective was one, rather perhaps
potential than definite, of Miss Trelawny herself.
For several minutes Miss Trelawny held the letter in her hand with her
eyes downcast, thinking. Then she read it carefully again; this time
the varying expressions were intensified, and I thought I could easily
follow them. When she had finished the second reading, she paused
again. Then, though with some reluctance, she handed the letter to the
Detective. He read it eagerly but with unchanging face; read it a
second time, and then handed it back with a bow. She paused a little
again, and then handed it to me. As she did so she raised her eyes to
mine for a single moment appealingly; a swift blush spread over her pale
cheeks and forehead.
With mingled feelings I took it, but, all said, I was glad. She did not
show any perturbation in giving the letter to the Detective--she might
not have shown any to anyone else. But to me... I feared to follow the
thought further; but read on, conscious that the eyes of both Miss
Trelawny and the Detective were fixed on me.
"MY DEAR DAUGHTER, I want you to take this letter as an instruction--
absolute and imperative, and admitting of no deviation whatever--in case
anything untoward or unexpected by you or by others should happen to me.
If I should be suddenly and mysteriously stricken down--either by
sickness, accident or attack--you must follow these directions
implicitly. If I am not already in my bedroom when you are made
cognisant of my state, I am to be brought there as quickly as possible.
Even should I be dead, my body is to be brought there. Thenceforth,
until I am either conscious and able to give instructions on my own
account, or buried, I am never to be left alone--not for a single
instant. From nightfall to sunrise at least two persons must remain in
the room. It will be well that a trained nurse be in the room from time
to time, and will note any symptoms, either permanent or changing, which
may strike her. My solicitors, Marvin & Jewkes, of 27B Lincoln's Inn,
have full instructions in case of my death; and Mr. Marvin has himself
undertaken to see personally my wishes carried out. I should advise
you, my dear Daughter, seeing that you have no relative to apply to, to
get some friend whom you can trust to either remain within the house
where instant communication can be made, or to come nightly to aid in
the watching, or to be within call. Such friend may be either male or
female; but, whichever it may be, there should be added one other
watcher or attendant at hand of the opposite sex. Understand, that it
is of the very essence of my wish that there should be, awake and
exercising themselves to my purposes, both masculine and feminine
intelligences. Once more, my dear Margaret, let me impress on you the
need for observation and just reasoning to conclusions, howsoever
strange. If I am taken ill or injured, this will be no ordinary
occasion; and I wish to warn you, so that your guarding may be complete.
"Nothing in my room--I speak of the curios--must be removed or displaced
in any way, or for any cause whatever. I have a special reason and a
special purpose in the placing of each; so that any moving of them would
thwart my plans.
"Should you want money or counsel in anything, Mr. Marvin will carry out
your wishes; to the which he has my full instructions."
I read the letter a second time before speaking, for I feared to betray
myself. The choice of a friend might be a momentous occasion for me. I
had already ground for hope, that she had asked me to help her in the
first throe of her trouble; but love makes its own doubtings, and I
feared. My thoughts seemed to whirl with lightning rapidity, and in a
few seconds a whole process of reasoning became formulated. I must not
volunteer to be the friend that the father advised his daughter to have
to aid her in her vigil; and yet that one glance had a lesson which I
must not ignore. Also, did not she, when she wanted help, send to me--to
me a stranger, except for one meeting at a dance and one brief afternoon
of companionship on the river? Would it not humiliate her to make her
ask me twice? Humiliate her! No! that pain I could at all events save
her; it is not humiliation to refuse. So, as I handed her back the
letter, I said:
"I know you will forgive me, Miss Trelawny, if I presume too much; but
if you will permit me to aid in the watching I shall be proud. Though
the occasion is a sad one, I shall be so far happy to be allowed the
Despite her manifest and painful effort at self-control, the red tide
swept her face and neck. Even her eyes seemed suffused, and in stern
contrast with her pale cheeks when the tide had rolled back. She
answered in a low voice:
"I shall be very grateful for your help!" Then in an afterthought she
"But you must not let me be selfish in my need! I know you have many
duties to engage you; and though I shall value your help highly--most
highly--it would not be fair to monopolise your time."
"As to that," I answered at once, "my time is yours. I can for today
easily arrange my work so that I can come here in the afternoon and stay
till morning. After that, if the occasion still demands it, I can so
arrange my work that I shall have more time still at my disposal."
She was much moved. I could see the tears gather in her eyes, and she
turned away her head. The Detective spoke:
"I am glad you will be here, Mr. Ross. I shall be in the house myself,
as Miss Trelawny will allow me, if my people in Scotland Yard will
permit. That letter seems to put a different complexion on everything;
though the mystery remains greater than ever. If you can wait here an
hour or two I shall go to headquarters, and then to the safe-makers.
After that I shall return; and you can go away easier in your mind, for
I shall be here."
When he had gone, we two, Miss Trelawny and I, remained in silence. At
last she raised her eyes and looked at me for a moment; after that I
would not have exchanged places with a king. For a while she busied
herself round the extemporised bedside of her father. Then, asking me
to be sure not to take my eyes off him till she returned, she hurried
In a few minutes she came back with Mrs. Grant and two maids and a
couple of men, who bore the entire frame and furniture of a light iron
bed. This they proceeded to put together and to make. When the work
was completed, and the servants had withdrawn, she said to me:
"It will be well to be all ready when the Doctor returns. He will
surely want to have Father put to bed; and a proper bed will be better
for him than the sofa." She then got a chair close beside her father,
and sat down watching him.
I went about the room, taking accurate note of all I saw. And truly
there were enough things in the room to evoke the curiosity of any man--
even though the attendant circumstances were less strange. The whole
place, excepting those articles of furniture necessary to a
well-furnished bedroom, was filled with magnificent curios, chiefly
Egyptian. As the room was of immense size there was opportunity for the
placing of a large number of them, even if, as with these, they were of
Whilst I was still investigating the room there came the sound of wheels
on the gravel outside the house. There was a ring at the hall door, and
a few minutes later, after a preliminary tap at the door and an
answering "Come in!" Doctor Winchester entered, followed by a young
woman in the dark dress of a nurse.
"I have been fortunate!" he said as he came in. "I found her at once
and free. Miss Trelawny, this is Nurse Kennedy!"