After we got our prisoner under control, he was very calm and did not try to hurt us anymore.
‘I guess you’re going to take me to the police station,’ he said to Sherlock Holmes. ‘My cab’s downstairs. If you free my legs, I can walk down to it.’
Sherlock Holmes did as he asked, although Gregson and Lestrade looked worried. Jefferson Hope stood up.
‘I can drive the cab,’ said Lestrade. ‘The doctor and Gregson can travel with you two inside.’ We went downstairs to the cab. Jefferson did not try to escape and soon we were at the police station.
‘I’d like to tell my side of the story,’ said Jefferson Hope. ‘My heart is weak and I won’t live many more days, now my work is done. I don’t want to be remembered as a cold-blooded murderer.’
He sat down and told his story.
‘I hated these two men because they caused the death of two human beings, the girl I wanted to marry twenty years ago, and her father. That man Drebber forced her to marry him instead, and she died from a broken heart because of it. I’ve carried her wedding ring with me over two continents in my search for justice. Now the two men are dead and I killed them. My work is done.
‘They were rich and I was poor. It wasn’t easy to follow them. When I got to London, I had no money and took work as a cabdriver. I found out where they were staying and followed them. But they were clever. They never went out alone and never after dark. Finally my chance came. They separated at Euston station. I was close enough to hear their plans. Stangerson went to the Halliday Hotel to wait while Drebber returned to their old hotel, Madame Charpentier’s. I followed Drebber, and waited outside.
‘Soon Drebber came out with a very angry young man, who was about to hit him with a stick. But Drebber ran away. He saw my cab, jumped in, and asked to go to the Halliday Hotel. Finally he was in my cab. I took him to the house in Brixton Road, which I knew was empty.
‘I didn’t want to kill him without giving him a chance. I wanted him to know who I was and why he was going to die. One of the jobs I did in America was working in a laboratory as a cleaner. In the laboratory there was a deadly poison, which I made into a pill. I made some pills which were harmless and some with the deadly poison. With these I could give Drebber the chance to choose, and I would eat the other pill.
‘When we arrived at the house, Drebber was still drunk and he thought it was the hotel. He followed me down the path and we went into the empty room. I lit a candle and turned to him. «Now Enoch Drebber, who am I?»
‘He stared at me drunkenly, the horror showing in his face as he realised who I was.
‘Are you going to murder me?’ he stammered.
‘Did you show mercy to Lucy and her father?’ I cried. ‘Let God judge between us. Choose and swallow,’ I said, holding out the pills. ‘There’s life in one and death in the other. Let’s see if there’s justice on the earth.’
‘I held my knife to his throat until he obeyed me. I swallowed the other pill and we waited. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he felt the poison in his body. I held Lucy’s wedding ring in front of his eyes before he fell to the ground. He was dead.
‘Blood was running from my nose. I don’t know why I wrote on the wall with it, perhaps to confuse the police. After I wrote the word on the wall, I returned to my cab and drove away. I put my hand in my pocket for Lucy’s ring: it was gone. The ring was the only thing I had to remind me of Lucy so I returned to the house and walked straight into a policeman. I pretended to be drunk and got away.
‘That’s how Enoch Drebber died. Now I wanted to find Stangerson. I went to his hotel and I soon found out which was his window. I climbed a ladder into his room and gave him the same choice of pills I gave Drebber. But Stangerson jumped up from his bed and attacked me. I stabbed him.
‘My business was done and I wanted to work a little more to earn money to return to America. I was standing in the cabdriver’s yard when a poor young boy asked for a cabdriver named Jefferson Hope. He said that his cab was wanted at 221B Baker Street. I went there, suspecting nothing, and the next thing I knew, this man had put the handcuffs on me. That’s my story, gentlemen. You may think I’m a murderer, but I think I’m as much an officer of justice as you are.’
We sat in silence for a minute after this man’s story of justice and retribution.
‘There’s just one thing I want to ask,’ said Sherlock Holmes. ‘Who was your friend who came for the ring?’
Jefferson Hope smiled. ‘I can tell my own secrets,’ he said, ‘but I don’t cause other people trouble. He was a friend who offered to go in case it was a trap. He did it well, didn’t he?’
‘Yes, indeed,’ said Sherlock Holmes.
‘Now gentlemen,’ said the officer in charge, ‘the prisoner will be held here until Thursday, when he goes to court.’ Jefferson Hope was taken off to a prison cell. Sherlock Holmes and I went back to Baker Street.