* * * * *
“An instructive case, Jervis,” remarked Thorndyke, as we walked homewards—“a case that reiterates the lesson that the authorities still refuse to learn.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“It is this. When it is discovered that a murder has been committed, the scene of that murder should instantly become as the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty. Not a grain of dust should be moved, not a soul should be allowed to approach it, until the scientific observer has seen everything in situ and absolutely undisturbed. No tramplings of excited constables, no rummaging by detectives, no scrambling to and fro of bloodhounds. Consider what would have happened in this case if we had arrived a few hours later. The corpse would have been in the mortuary, the hair in the sergeant’s pocket, the bed rummaged and the sand scattered abroad, the candle probably removed, and the stairs covered with fresh tracks.
“There would not have been the vestige of a clue.”
“And,” I added, “the deep sea would have uttered its message in vain.”