A Case Solved
We were expected in court with Jefferson Hope on Thursday. However, when Thursday came, Jefferson Hope was already dead. On the night after his arrest, his weak heart finally stopped beating and he was found the next morning in his prison cell, lying on the floor with a contented smile on his face.
Sherlock Holmes was cheerful.
‘I’m so glad I didn’t miss this investigation!’ he said. ‘It really has been a very interesting case. Although it was very simple, there are many useful things to be learned from it.’
‘Simple?’ I exclaimed.
‘Of course,’ said Sherlock Holmes. ‘The proof is that, with only a few ordinary deductions, I was able to find the criminal in only three days.’
‘That’s true,’ I said.
‘This was a case where we had the result and had to work backwards. I knew that two men arrived at the house in a cab from the tracks of the wheels and the footprints outside. There was no injury on the dead man’s body. I sniffed his lips and smelt a bitter smell: poison. Because of the expression on his face, I knew that someone had forced him to take the poison.
‘Now the question was why? There was no robbery. It was either politics or a woman. When the ring was found, that answered the question. The murderer used the ring to remind his victim of a dead or absent woman. At this point I asked Gregson if he had asked anything in particular about Drebber’s past in his telegram to Cleveland. He said no, so I did his work for him. When I contacted Cleveland, I asked only about the marriage of Enoch Drebber. They told me that Drebber asked for the protection of the law from an old rival in love called Jefferson Hope, and that this man Hope was in Europe. You remember the telegram in Stangerson’s pocket: «J. H. is in Europe.»
‘I knew that the murderer was also the driver of the cab. If a man wanted to commit murder, he wouldn’t do it with someone else, a cabdriver, waiting outside. Also, a cabdriver is the perfect job for following someone around London. That’s why I asked young Wiggins to ask in every cab company in London for a driver named Jefferson Hope. As you know, he found him and brought him to me.’
‘You really are wonderful, Holmes,’ I said. ‘Your achievements should be publicly recognised. I’ll publish your account of the case.’
‘You can try,’ said Holmes, ‘but look at this,’ he said, handing me a newspaper.
It read: ‘Jefferson Hope, suspected murderer of Mr Enoch Drebber and Mr Joseph Stangerson, has died. The details of the case will probably never be known, although we do know that the crimes were a result of an old feud, in which love and Mormonism played a part. Both the victims belonged to the religious group the Mormons when they were young. Hope also comes from Salt Lake City, where the Mormons founded their religion.
‘Our police force has been very efficient in capturing the murderer. All credit must go to the well-known detectives, Gregson and Lestrade. The murderer was captured in the rooms of a Mr Sherlock Holmes, an amateur detective who has also shown some talent. Perhaps, in time, he will be as clever as Gregson and Lestrade.’
‘Didn’t I tell you at the start?’ laughed Holmes. ‘For all our hard work, Gregson and Lestrade take all the credit!’
‘Never mind,’ I answered. ‘I have all the facts in my diary and the public will know them, even though no one else appreciates you!’