The Valley of Fear eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 221 pages of information about The Valley of Fear.

MacDonald referred to his notebook.  “Here we have it so far as they could give it.  They don’t seem to have taken any very particular stock of him; but still the porter, the clerk, and the chambermaid are all agreed that this about covers the points.  He was a man about five foot nine in height, fifty or so years of age, his hair slightly grizzled, a grayish moustache, a curved nose, and a face which all of them described as fierce and forbidding.”

“Well, bar the expression, that might almost be a description of Douglas himself,” said Holmes.  “He is just over fifty, with grizzled hair and moustache, and about the same height.  Did you get anything else?”

“He was dressed in a heavy gray suit with a reefer jacket, and he wore a short yellow overcoat and a soft cap.”

“What about the shotgun?”

“It is less than two feet long.  It could very well have fitted into his valise.  He could have carried it inside his overcoat without difficulty.”

“And how do you consider that all this bears upon the general case?”

“Well, Mr. Holmes,” said MacDonald, “when we have got our man—­and you may be sure that I had his description on the wires within five minutes of hearing it—­we shall be better able to judge.  But, even as it stands, we have surely gone a long way.  We know that an American calling himself Hargrave came to Tunbridge Wells two days ago with bicycle and valise.  In the latter was a sawed-off shotgun; so he came with the deliberate purpose of crime.  Yesterday morning he set off for this place on his bicycle, with his gun concealed in his overcoat.  No one saw him arrive, so far as we can learn; but he need not pass through the village to reach the park gates, and there are many cyclists upon the road.  Presumably he at once concealed his cycle among the laurels where it was found, and possibly lurked there himself, with his eye on the house, waiting for Mr. Douglas to come out.  The shotgun is a strange weapon to use inside a house; but he had intended to use it outside, and there it has very obvious advantages, as it would be impossible to miss with it, and the sound of shots is so common in an English sporting neighbourhood that no particular notice would be taken.”

“That is all very clear,” said Holmes.

“Well, Mr. Douglas did not appear.  What was he to do next?  He left his bicycle and approached the house in the twilight.  He found the bridge down and no one about.  He took his chance, intending, no doubt, to make some excuse if he met anyone.  He met no one.  He slipped into the first room that he saw, and concealed himself behind the curtain.  Thence he could see the drawbridge go up, and he knew that his only escape was through the moat.  He waited until quarter-past eleven, when Mr. Douglas upon his usual nightly round came into the room.  He shot him and escaped, as arranged.  He was aware that the bicycle would be described by the hotel people and be a clue against him; so he left it there and made his way by some other means to London or to some safe hiding place which he had already arranged.  How is that, Mr. Holmes?”

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The Valley of Fear from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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