a study in scarlet chapter 7



The next morning, John sent his message to Jefferson, asking him to return as soon as possible. When he returned to his farm, there were two young men sitting in his living room.

‘Maybe you don’t know who we are,’ said one. ‘This is the son of Elder Drebber and I’m Joseph Stangerson. We’ve come to help you decide which of us will marry Lucy.’

John Ferrier waited.

‘As I have only four wives and Drebber has seven, I think it’s better if Lucy chooses me,’ said Stangerson.

‘No, no,’ said Drebber. ‘I’m much richer than you. I can afford to keep more wives. She’ll marry me.’

‘For now, you can both stop fighting over my daughter and get out of my house!’ shouted John.

‘She has a month to choose. Now go!’

‘You’ll be sorry! shouted Stangerson as he left. ‘No one opposes the Prophet!’

The next morning, John woke up to find a note on his bed. It said, Twenty nine days left. John did not know how this message was delivered as he slept. All the doors and windows were locked.

Every day John found another note, counting down the days until Lucy had to choose. There was still no news from Jefferson.

One evening John sat alone trying to think of a way out of his trouble. That morning the number two was written on the wall of his house. The next day was the last day of Lucy’s freedom. Suddenly he heard a quiet scratching on the door to the house.

John opened the door. He looked right and left and saw no one.

Then he looked down, there on the ground was Jefferson Hope. ‘You scared me!’ said John. ‘Why did you come like that?’

‘How’s Lucy?’ asked Jefferson. ‘Is she well?’

‘She doesn’t know the danger,’ said John.

That’s good. The house is watched on every side. That’s why I crawled to the door like that. We must leave tonight. I have three horses waiting in the Eagle Canyon. Do you have money?’ John nodded.

‘Go and wake Lucy. We must leave at once’

They waited until a dark cloud covered the moon. Then they climbed out of the window into the small garden. Silently they crossed the garden into a field. Suddenly, Jefferson pulled them down into the shadow. They saw two men meet in the darkness. ‘Tomorrow at midnight,’ said one. ‘Tell Brother Drebber.’

‘Nine to seven!’

‘Seven to five!’ The two men separated and disappeared into the night.

Jefferson, Lucy and John quickly crossed the fields and came to the road. Soon the road led between two dark, rocky mountains: Eagle Canyon, where the horses were waiting for them. As they travelled further and further away from the Mormons, all three felt happier. But they were still inside the boundary of the Mormon city; a soldier stood on a cliff.

‘Who goes there?’ he shouted.

‘Travellers for Nevada,’ replied Jefferson.

‘By whose permission?’

‘The Holy Elders,’ answered Ferrier.

‘Nine to seven.’

‘Seven to five,’ replied Jefferson, remembering the code words he had heard earlier.

‘You may pass,’ said the figure.

The travellers knew that freedom lay ahead of them.

They continued through the night and at sunrise they stopped to eat and rest. But Jefferson did not want to wait long.

‘They must be following us by now,’ he said. ‘We must get to Carson City and then we’ll be safe.’ They carried on.

On the second day, their food ran out and Jefferson knew that he must go hunting for food to survive. In a sheltered place, he built a small fire and left Lucy and John to rest while he went hunting. He searched for two or three hours without success, then he found and shot a wild sheep. He cut off as much meat as he could carry and started back to Lucy and John. But he was lost. It took him a long time to find his way and it was getting dark. Finally he recognised the place where Lucy and John were. He shouted to them but there was no reply. He rushed on and, turning the corner, found a pile of hot ashes from the fire but no sign of John and Lucy. Even the animals had gone.

Jefferson looked around him. At one side of the fire was a pile of earth. It was a new grave. On it was a stick with a piece of paper on it. It said John Ferrier Previously of Salt Lake City Died August 4.

Jefferson looked around for a second grave but there wasn’t one. They must have taken Lucy back to become the wife of Drebber or Stangerson. As Jefferson realised that he was powerless, he wished that he too was dead like John Ferrier.

But then he decided to fight back, if he could not have Lucy, he would have revenge. He would kill Drebber and Stangerson.

For five days he walked back the way he had come with Lucy and John on horse days before. He was tired and hungry but still he kept going. On the sixth day he arrived in Eagle Canyon. From here he could see Salt Lake City, the home of the Mormons. A man on horseback was passing by. Jefferson knew him.

‘Please, tell me what happened to Lucy Ferrier,’ he asked the man.

The man looked scared. ‘I can’t be seen talking to you,’ he said. ‘They’ll kill both of us.’

‘Just tell me,’ asked Jefferson.

‘She was married yesterday to young Drebber,’ he said. ‘But I don’t think he’ll have Lucy for long. She’s more like a ghost than a woman. What will you do?’

‘I’m leaving,’ said Jefferson. He turned and walked back into the mountains.

The man was right. Lucy never recovered from the loss of her father and Jefferson. In a month she was dead. Drebber did not seem sad. He only married her for her father’s farm and wealth. But his other wives mourned for her, and sat with her body the night before she was buried. Early in the morning, they were sitting around the body when the door was thrown open and a savage looking man walked in. He walked up to the body that once contained the soul of Lucy Ferrier. He kissed her and then took the wedding ring from her finger.

‘She won’t be buried in that,’ he said angrily. He disappeared as suddenly as he came.

For several months, Jefferson stayed in the mountains around the Mormon city. There were stories of attempts to kill Drebber and Stangerson. They knew it was Jefferson and tried to find their enemy and kill him before he killed them. But they failed.

Jefferson was ill from living in the mountains. He decided that his revenge could wait while he regained his health and earned some money.

Five years later, he returned to Salt Lake City, disguised and with a different name. However, the Mormons were no longer together. There was a split between the younger and older Mormons. Drebber and Stangerson were no longer Mormons and they left Salt Lake City. No one knew where they were. They only knew that Drebber was still very rich but Stangerson was not. He was working for Drebber as his secretary.

Jefferson travelled from city to city in America, searching for his enemies. Year after year, he continued his search until finally he found the two men in Cleveland, Ohio. But they managed to escape him again, by leaving for Europe. Jefferson worked for a while to earn the money to follow them, but he always just missed them. When he reached St Petersburg, they left for Paris; when he arrived in Paris, they went to Copenhagen. He followed them all over Europe until finally he found them in London. To know what happened there, we can return to the diary of Doctor Watson, where he recorded Jefferson Hope’s story.


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