It was a dull day in October on the year 189-. The clouds above Baker Street were grey with the promise of rain. The last few days it had rained several times, and it looked like being another inclement day.
I was visiting Holmes in order to complete my notes on his most recent case, the adventure of the broken Ming vase, and why a person who had acquired it for a great sum at auction would then smash it into pieces. Holmes was in a rare good mood, for once, the success of the case meaning that he would have no need to seek solace in those chemicals locked away in a drawer, or to play plaintive melodies on his violin.
Yet I knew that if Holmes did not find something else to occupy his prodigious mind that the mood would not last. If some other adventure did not present itself then he would become listless. Perhaps he might even unlock the drawer where there was the syringe and his seven percent solution. So it was my hope that, although we had completed one case, another should soon present itself before Holmes.
Holmes was sat at his desk by the window, studying those who passed on the street below. I had no doubt that his phenomenal powers of observation allowed him to determine the occupation of each and every person who walked down Baker Street; where I might see some old man with a beard and a walking stick Holmes might divine a former soldier fallen on hard times, who was wounded in India and now lived at some hospice; or some plain dame Holmes would see was a widow who now campaigned against the imagined evils of strong drink. I looked up from my notes, to see Holmes’ eyes twinkling as he looked out on the street scene below. It was at such times that it was a pleasure to be his amanuensis.
“We are to have a visitor.” Holmes said. He got up from his position at the window, and walked over to the mantelpiece, where he had his slipper full of shag tobacco. He filled the bowl of the pipe, before striking a match on the mantelpiece.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“An old friend.” said Holmes. He lit his pipe, and waited for this old friend to appear. He threw the dead match into the hearth.
I heard voices from below, Mrs Hudson and whoever the visitor was. They were too muffled, however, for me to discern what was said. But I thought that I recognised the voice of the man who was speaking to the redoubtable Mrs Hudson.
I head faint steps ascend the stairs to the room. There was a knock on the door.
“Come in, Lestrade!” said Holmes. The door opened, and Detective Inspector Lestrade poked his ferret-like face around the door.
“Ah, Mister Holmes, I hope that I am not intruding, but I hoped that I might have a moment of your time.”
“By all means, Inspector. I am always willing to assist Scotland Yard. Please, sit down, and tell me what concerns you.
Detective Inspector Lestrade sat down in one chair. Sherlock Holmes sat down in another. He leant back in his chair, and enjoyed his pipe, while glancing at Lestrade.
Lestrade leant forwards, an earnest expression on the policeman’s face.
“I have been engaged in a murder investigation, Mister Holmes. The case, as I am sure you will see, is straightforward enough. I would not normally bother you on such a mundane affair. But I have encountered a few problems in the case, and I was hoping that you might give me some idea as to how to proceed. To tell you the truth, I am at my wit’s end in this. Unless something remarkable occurs, I can see the villain getting away with murder.”
“Please, Inspector, furnish me with some details. I must have facts if I am to theorise.”
“The murdered man was Edward Powell.” said Lestrade, beginning his tale. “He was killed by a man in a green coat, by the name of William Smith, down at some docks along the river…”
“What sort of coat?” asked Holmes.
“It was an ulster.” said Lestrade, becoming a little flustered at the interruption.
“If you know the murderer, then I do not see why you need my advice.” remarked Holmes.
“Mister Holmes, please, let me tell this story my way.”
“Of course, Inspector. Pray continue.”
“Well, the murder of this Edward Powell murder was witnessed by a doctor by the name of George Green. It was he who involved us in the matter. He saw the man in the green coat scream out that he was going to kill Edward Powell, before attacking the other man. According to the statement, the attacker brutally beat Powell, Perhaps beyond the point of death. The attacker then pushed the other man’s body into the water of the Thames. This all happened before the doctor had chance to do anything – although, Mister Holmes, I suspect that the doctor’s instincts for self-preservation caused him not to try to intervene.
It is the fact that the murderer called out the victims name that we know who has been murdered. Otherwise we would not have known who the victim was.
“The man in the green coat then turned around, and began to walk away. This put the good doctor in a quandary. He rushed to where Powell had gone into the water. But he could see no sign of Powell in the water. He had sunk without trace.
“The doctor could not swim; else, perhaps, he might have dived into the Thames to attempt to rescue Powell. Perhaps he should have cried out for help. But the doctor said that he could see no one else around, and that Powell had already been in a bad way when he had gone into the water. It was possible that he was already dead. I am sure that you know how murky the Thames can be, Mister Holmes. I doubt if he could have found Powell, even if he had leapt into the river.
“As it was Dr Green decided to follow the murderer, and discover where the culprit lived. He might not have been able to save Powell. But he would see that the killer was brought to justice.
“He followed the murderer back to a lodgings house in one of the worst parts of Whitechapel. Sometimes I think that the best way that you could reduce crime in the capital would be to knock all of those houses down.
“Anyway, the good doctor came and informed us of what he had seen. He went to the nearest police station to where he was. So I did not have the benefit of questioning Doctor Green directly.
“A couple of officers went to the lodgings to arrest William Smith. By the time that they had arrived at the lodgings house he had left, though, having cleared out what few possessions the man had had in the room. The woman who had run the place, a tartar by the name of Mrs Blakeney, told my officers that she had no idea where William Smith had gone. He had left no forwarding address.
“It was then that I became involved with the affair. As soon as I became involved in the investigation I despatched a pair of officers to the house where Edward Powell had lived. It had crossed my mind, you see, that this whole affair might be some sort of a hoax, and I had wanted to be sure that Powell was dead.
“The officers received no answer from the house. The neighbours confirmed that he had not been seen since the time when George Green had said that he had seen Powell go into the waters of the Thames. A search of the house, a little later, confirmed the fact that he was absent, but found no mention of William Smith, who had borne such hatred for the murdered man. I do not know what incident led Smith to kill Powell. That, Mister Holmes, is one of the little mysteries of this case.
“It was then that I began to search, in earnest, for William Smith, as it seemed clear that the statement given by Dr Green had been correct, and Smith had murdered Powell, although I do not know the reason for the murder. I have had my men search high and low in London without success. Finding the whereabouts of this William Smith is another matter on which I would appreciate your advice.
“I tried speaking to the neighbours of Powell, concerning the murderer, but they did not know this William Smith. Nor did they know why he might have borne such hatred towards Powell to want to kill the man. But Edward Powell had been a commercial traveller, and the fact was that they had seen very little of him, especially in recent weeks. When he had not been travelling he had kept to himself.”
“He was not married?”
“No; nor did he have any servants, who might have elucidated what had gone on between Powell and Smith.
“There is one other item of interest, Mister Holmes. A few months ago Powell took out a great deal of life insurance with Underwoods’. As you may imagine, with large sums of money involved, they are concerned that no hanky-panky was involved, so to speak.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The money goes to a man by the name of… ah, it is written down here. One moment, please, Mister Holmes.”
Lestrade reached into his coat, got out his notebook, and flipped it open.
“The entire estate of Edward Powell goes to a man by the name of Adam Branson.”
Holmes glanced in my direction. I had my notebook open, as I had been writing up the notes of the case involving the Ming vase. I noted down the name of Adam Branson.
“Well, that is almost the entire problem.” said Lestrade. “I suppose that you will want to go down to the docks to study the area.”
“When did this murder take place?” asked Holmes.
“It was four days ago, now.”
“It has rained twice since then.” said Holmes. “I see little point on going down to examining the area. If the rain has not washed away any evidence which might have been found then I am certain that the boots of your officers will have obscured anything of interest.
“Mister Holmes…” Lestrade began to object, then simply shook his head. “As you wish. But I need to find where the murderer is hiding. I need to put the cuffs on his wrists, and clear up this little matter. Mister Holmes, I have searched high and low through London, looking for this William Smith. Do you know how many men in London are called Bill Smith?”
“Almost as many as are called John Smith, I should imagine.” I noticed that Holmes was doing his best not to laugh at the unfortunate Inspector Lestrade.
“I think that I must have spoken to them all – and not one of them was the right man. Either they had an alibi, or they did not match the description of the murderer.”
“What did he look like?” Lestrade had not yet described the murderer in this puzzling case.
“He was described by Dr Green as being distinctly average. William Smith was a man of average height and build, with brown hair and no distinguishing features.”
There was a muttered harrumph from my friend, who was firmly of the belief that every person had distinguishing features, if only a person was observant enough to se them.
“There are many men of average height and average build. Anybody called William Smith who matches such a description has had to be interviewed. But, as I said, not one who I spoke to could have been the killer.”
“Could he have fled London, after he killed Powell?” I asked.
“That is one possibility which I have considered, Mr Watson.” Lestrade said. “I have alerted other police forces to be on a lookout for a William Smith of average appearance. But I have not yet received any word back.”
Holmes smiled, as though that was what he had expected to hear. The great detective had a lower opinion of the police forces outside of London than he had for the likes of Lestrade and Athelney Jones.
“There is one other minor matter.” Lestrade said. “Not only can I not find the murderer, but I appear to have mislaid the witness.”
At this Holmes paid a lot more attention to Lestrade. Instead of sitting back in his chair, puffing on his pipe, Holmes leant forwards and stared at the policeman.
“Well, after failing to find William Smith I had the river dragged to see if I could recover the corpse of Powell. But it must have been taken downstream by the river, as we were unable to recover it. Failing to have a corpse is rather awkward in a case of murder, Mr Holmes. We only had the word of the doctor that Powell was dead. But, as Powell had obviously disappeared, I did not doubt that some crime had been committed. He has not taken himself away: I am convinced that he has been done in.
“I went around to the address of the doctor in Belgravia. I had not spoken to him, as I have said, when he had reported the scuffle which had led to the death of Powell, and I had hoped to obtain more details concerning what he had seen; and, perhaps, a better description of the murderer, other than he had been a plain-featured man in a green coat.
“I was unable to get an answer from the doctor, though. No one answered the door when I banged on it. I spoke to Doctor Green’s neighbours, but they said that they had not seen him for the last three or four days. They had no idea where he might be.
“It was at that point that I feared that William Smith had somehow discovered that he had been seen by Doctor Green, and had murdered the man. After all, the entire evidence that a murder had been committed relied on the evidence which Green had given. If the witness was killed then I feared that any trial would collapse – if we did succeed in finding Smith.
“I had my men force the door of Dr Green’s rooms, and we went inside, expecting to find his body on the floor. But there was no indication that foul play had taken place.
“I searched the rooms, but I could find no clue as to what had happened to Dr Green. There was no indication that he had been planning to go away. There was no sign of any struggle, either – which I suppose is a good thing. I suppose that there is the possibility that he learned of some threat to himself by this William Smith, and decided to take himself away. But he should have come to the police.
“Well, that is about it, Mister Holmes. I have a statement concerning the murder of the unfortunate Edward Powell, and I have found various people who recall a man with a green coat on the day of the murder, confirming that this William Smith was about. But I cannot find the dead body of Powell; I cannot find the murderer; and now the witness to the murder has disappeared, as well. Will you help me with this?”
“Yes.” said Holmes. “The case offers certain peculiarities which are of interest to me, Lestrade. Leave the matter with me, and I will attend to it at the earliest opportunity.”
Few other words were exchanged between the two men before Lestrade left.
“What do you make of this case, Watson?” Holmes asked, when we were alone.
“It seems straightforward enough.” I said. I did not see anything which Lestrade had done wrong; nor did I see the peculiarities of which Holmes had spoken. “For reasons unknown this William Smith murdered Edward Powell. Dr Green reported the murder to the police. William Smith, before deciding to disappear, got wind of the fact that there had been a witness to the crime. He tracked down Dr Green and murdered him, before taking himself off to who knows where.”
“Remarkable.” said Holmes.
“And, I fear, almost entirely wrong.”
“Then what happened, Holmes?” I asked. I was a little annoyed with my friend, and the dismissive manner which he had adopted.
“That is what must be discovered.” he said, smiling and rubbing his hands together. “But I doubt whether things are as Lestrade imagines them to be. If Lestrade was only a little more observant, and a lot more imaginative – why, then, he would have the makings of a detective about him.”
Holmes chuckled to himself. I felt that, perhaps, he was being overly critical of the detective inspector, for few mortals could attain the high standards set by the world’s only consulting detective.
“So, are we to search London for this William Smith?” I asked.
“That would be a waste of time, Watson.” Holmes sighed. He got out of his chair, and knocked the remnants of the ash out of the bowl of his pipe into the empty hearth. He proceeded to refill his pipe with fresh shag tobacco. “The good inspector may be inobservant and unimaginative, but he does not lack in doggedness. Like a terrier on a scent Lestrade keeps going – even if, on most occasions, he is on the wrong trail. But if all the forces of Scotland Yard cannot find William Smith in London, then it is possible that he is not in London to be found. After four days of searching by the police, without even a hint of the real William Smith, I believe that any standard search for him is destined to fail – even if I was to use the Baker Street Irregulars. No, I think that the most interesting aspect of this case is the green coat. It is that which I must discover: that, and what happened to the only witness to this crime.”
“Will not this William Smith still be wearing the coat, Holmes?”
Holmes turned to look at me with a twinkle in his eye. But he did not say anything.
“Well, are we going to go and look for this coat?” I asked.
“I suspect that you may find such a search to be rather dull, Watson.” said Holmes. “At least judging by some of the excitable prose of your attempts to relate my observations.”
“Holmes, I have said, before, that if you do not like the way in which I relate your adventures then you should, by all means, transcribe them yourself.”
“One day I will.” said Holmes. “But not at this juncture. No, I must be out and about London. I have a lot of work to do if I am to solve this little mystery.”
I stood up, expecting to be beside Holmes on this adventure.
“This work will be of a singularly dull affair, Watson, I fear; and perhaps one which may require a disguise for me, when I venture to speak to some of the denizens of Whitechapel. They would be no more willing to speak to a consulting detective – or his amanuensis – than they would be to Inspector Lestrade and Scotland Yard. Perhaps your time would be better spent with your lady wife. Rest assured, though, Watson, that I value your company; and that, when my search is complete, I will summon you for any danger. My trusty Boswell will be at the dénouement of this case.”
“Then I will look forward to that dénouement.” I said. “Will I need my revolver, Holmes?”
“In this case, I think not. Despite what Lestrade might think, I do not yet foresee any great peril in this case.”
I left Baker Street for a night with my wife wondering what Holmes had meant by that last remark, as he was investigating what seemed to be a particularly brutal murderer. But I trusted that, if any danger was involved, that Homes would warn me to bring my trusty service revolver.
It was two days later that I received a telegram from Holmes asking me to come around to Baker Street at once. There were no details in the summons. But I presumed that there must have been developments in the case of the murdered Edward Powell. As soon as I could close the surgery down for the day I did so. I hastened around to Baker Street to see what Holmes had discovered.
I entered the living room to see Holmes facing the door, holding up a thick ulster of a garish green hue. Holmes had a very wide grin on his face. I could tell that his investigations had gone well.
“Is that the green coat?” I asked. I stared at an ulster of a hue which was sickly, to say the least. I had not known that they made coats in such an ill colour.
“Where did you find it, Holmes? Have you discovered the hiding place of the murderer?”
“I do not have him yet, Watson. But with the discovery of this coat the facts become clearer, as to what occurred four nights ago, down on those docks.”
The facts were already clear, as far as I could tell: William Smith had murdered Edward Powell by hurling the victim into the dark waters of the Thames.
“It took only four hours of searching every nook and cranny in Whitechapel to recover this.” Holmes said, holding the coat up. It was very dirty. I could see brick dust on it, possibly from what hiding place it had been in. “as I said, the search was a dull affair, and one which did not need your presence. I’m sure that you must have had a more enjoyable evening than you would have had if you had been checking out every hidey-hole in Whitechapel.
“Now, Watson, you know my methods. Please apply them to this coat, and tell me what you can deduce about the person who wore this apparel.”
“Well, it has brick dust on it, but I presume that was from its hiding place.”
“Correct, Watson. It was hidden in a hole in a wall behind some dustbins in an alleyway of Butler Street.”
“So that does not really tell us much about the killer. The coat is of average size, so I presume that the person wearing it was of average size, as well.”
“It does not look all that well made, so I presume that the coat was cheap, and is not of good quality, which I would expect from somebody living in Whitechapel.”
“This type of lurid green ulster is only sold by one business in London: Burton and Sons in the East End. It was there that it was purchased. Continue.”
I examined the coat closer, looking in the pockets, and checking the cuffs of the coat. But I could not deduce any clues. There did not seem to be anything else to see.
“I’m sorry, Holmes, but I can’t tell anything else about the coat.”
“Watson, you have missed the most important point – the lurid green colour of the coat. This is a coat to be noticed. If you were living in Whitechapel, and you saw somebody walking along wearing such bright apparel, you would certainly recall the coat, even if you did not remember the face of the person wearing it.”
“Ah – so that must be why the murderer hid the coat – he did not want to be recognised by his apparel.”
“I think not, Watson.” said Holmes. “The decision to hide the coat had been made long before the person who wore it was ever down at the docks. I believe that it must have been made before the coat was even purchased. What we have here, Watson, is a case which I believe to be unique in the annals of recorded crime. It has similarities with Lopez and Tamayo of Mexico City in 1867; but the criminal behind this affair has gone even further than that.”
I had no idea as to what case Holmes was referring.
“I don’t understand.” I muttered. “Anyway, Holmes, what of the doctor? Lestrade could not find the witness, either. Do you think that this doctor really was murdered by Smith?”
“How would Smith have learned of Dr Green reporting the matter to the police?” asked Holmes. “The doctor’s name has not appeared in any newspaper, to the best of my knowledge. Until Lestrade came to see me, the only people aware of the statement would have been Scotland Yard.”
“I suppose so. So did you find the doctor?”
“I know where he may be found.”
“Holmes! That is wonderful news! So he has not been slain by this blackguard Smith?”
“We are to meet Lestrade and his men at a house in Pinner. Everything will be resolved, Watson.”
Holmes did not say anything else to me in the hansom cab ride to Pinner. It was clear to me that he desired some dramatic revelation of the truth in this case. Holmes, despite what he said, did enjoy these little flourishes.
We met Lestrade a little way from the house which was our final destination.
“I have an officer watching the front of the house, and another watching the back, as you instructed, Mr Holmes.” Lestrade said. “Although I cannot imagine why: this is the house of Adam Branson. As far as we can tell, he is alone in there.”
“The man who inherits the estate of Powell?” I asked.
“The same.” said Holmes.
“Are you suggesting that Branson is in league with Smith?” Lestrade asked.
“I promised you that you would lay your hands upon Smith, and you shall.” said Holmes. “Are you ready, Lestrade?”
“My men are in position. If he is in there he will not escape.”
We walked down the road to a small cottage. I could see a police officer further down the road, and I was told by Lestrade that there were more men hidden at the back of the property, should Smith seek to make his escape across the gardens.
Holmes walked up to the front door of the cottage and rapped on the wood of the door with the head of his walking stick. He had to knock a second time before the door was opened.
It was only opened a little. In the gap I could see a man of some forty odd years, with brown hair and a rather plain appearance. It was the sort of face, lacking distinguishing features, which was instantly forgettable.
“Yes? Who are you? What do you want?”
“I am Sherlock Holmes.”
“And I am Detective Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard.”
The man had tried to close the door, only to find that it would not shut. He looked down to see that Holmes had taken the precaution of inserting his right foot into the crack.
“Are you the man who calls himself Adam Branson?” Holmes asked him.
“I am Adam Branson.” he said, indignantly.
“Then we need to speak to you concerning a man by the name of William Smith.” Holmes, using his strength, forced the door open, and made his way into the house. Lestrade and I followed him.
Branson retreated into the kitchen. It was small, and there were still a few things in boxes. It was clear that he had not yet fully unpacked all of the items in the house, but must have only recently moved to Pinner.
Branson looked around, towards the rear of the house, perhaps thinking about escape.
“Do not bother trying to run, Branson.” Lestrade said. “I have men at the back.”
“What is the meaning of this? I have not done anything wrong.”
“Yes, Mr Holmes,” said Lestrade. “You said that you were going to give me William Smith. But this is only Adam Branson, who is the heir to Edward Powell. He is not under suspicion.”
“Let me explain, Lestrade, what has been a quite entertaining puzzle, as far as I am concerned. It is not the simple murder which you thought it to be.
“The two matters of interest in this affair were the green coat, and the fact that Powell had recently insured his life for a great deal of money. As soon as you mentioned Underwoods’, Lestrade, I suspected that this was not some simple murder, but an attempt to con the insurer out of a great deal of money.
“Such a possibility was also suggested by the fact that there did not seem to have been any prior contact between William Smith and Edward Powell. Why did William Smith murder Edward Powell? And why call out Powell’s name just before the murderous assault – if the account of this supposed Dr Green is to be believed. I will return to the matter of Green. But let us deal with the victim, to begin with, and his part in this mystery.
“Lestrade, you said that the neighbours of Edward Powell had seen very little of the man, and especially in recent weeks. That was significant, even for someone who was a commercial traveller. It suggested that Powell had been otherwise occupied of late. Also significant was the fact that Powell did not even have a maid.
“A few questions of the neighbours would have confirmed the fact that, although Powell had not had any servants when he had allegedly murdered, he had had a maid in the past. That maid was called Mary Winters. I have tracked her down, and she should soon join us.”
At the mention of that fact I saw Branson physically pale. I did not yet realise the significance of that.
“A few enquiries were enough to establish that, of late, Edward Powell had suffered financial calamity upon financial calamity. He was on the verge of bankruptcy. But the man still decided to invest all of his remaining funds – nearly all of his remaining funds – in an insurance policy which benefited a man by the name of Adam Branson. Then Edward Powell solved all of his financial problems by apparently getting murdered, his body allegedly disappearing into the murky depths of the Thames. Edward Powell was gone.
“But who had killed him? A man with the common name of William Smith, who had been witnessed by one Dr Green killing Powell. Yet the police could not find any trace of this murderer, who had checked out of his lodgings and simply disappeared. There was a very good reason for that, Lestrade: William Smith does not exist.”
“I don’t understand.” said Lestrade. “How can he not exist?”
“There was a man who claimed to be William Smith who booked into rooms in Whitechapel. There was a man who wore a bright green coat, which he knew would be noticed. But William Smith was an assumed name. It was a false identity, cast off when it was no longer of any use to the criminal behind this affair.”
“Doctor Green?” I asked. I was beginning to suspect what the truth might be, but I wanted it to be confirmed by Holmes.
“It took very little effort on my part to uncover the fact that there was no Dr Green of Belgravia. The rooms in Belgravia had only been rented out by Dr Green within the past few weeks – and fully furnished, as well, as this supposed Dr Green would not, I suspect, have had the time or the money to provide furniture for them.
“I did not even need Watson to confirm that Dr Green did not have a practice in London – or anywhere else. The General Medical Council keeps detailed registers of all who have entered the medical profession since 1858. A visit to them confirmed that this Dr Green of Belgravia was an impostor. Dr Green was nothing but another false identity, worn long enough to give a semblance of truth, and then cast aside when it was no longer of any use.
“As soon as I knew that the supposed witness was a fraud the truth became clear to me. There had been no struggle on the docks, leading to the death of Edward Powell. His body had not been slung into the Thames. No body, in fact, had gone into the Thames, and that was why all of your attempts to drag the river failed, Lestrade. It was why your attempts to locate the witness failed, as well. Neither William Smith nor Dr Green ever existed.
“This man, Lestrade, is not Adam Branson. His real name is Edward Powell. But he has also gone by the names of William Smith and Dr Green.”
“What?” Lestrade looked in astonishment at Holmes. I must admit that I was surprised, as well.
“A lie.” Branson said. But he looked very nervous.
“Edward Powell was a very unsuccessful businessman.” said Holmes. “As I have said, he was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was due to the parlous state of his financial affairs that he had to let Mary Winters go. I suspect that it was at around that time that this bizarre scheme entered his head. Powell had to get money, and he thought that, if he insured himself that he might inherit the money, if it was accepted that Edward Powell was dead. He could become this Adam Branson to receive the insurance money.
“Of course, for such a scheme to defraud Underwoods was to have even the smallest chance of success, then the world would have to think that Edward Powell was dead. Powell could not simply disappear. But how could he appear to be dead without a body?
“If he had appeared to be murdered, and the body thrown into the Thames, then he hoped that the insurers might pay the money to Branson. It is of my opinion that Underwoods would not have paid out without a body. That might have been tested in court. But it will not come to that now; and this was always the desperate scheme of a desperate man.
“So how do you appear to be murdered, in such a way that it would convince the police? Why, you have to have an impeccable witness, one whose word will not be questioned. A doctor would be believed, especially one who resided in somewhere like Belgravia.
“Branson realised that creating this false witness might not be enough. If a person was supposed to have been killed then you had to have a killer. So he created the part of Smith; and a memorable green coat, which people in Whitechapel might recall, instead of the man’s face.
“Here, Lestrade, is the man who ‘did away’ with Powell: a man who was victim, witness and murderer.”
“You have no proof…” said Branson – or Powell, for that was his real name. But, just then, there was a knock on the door, and a police constable stepped into the cottage’s kitchen.
“Excuse me sir, but there is a young lady here by the name of Winters…”
It was then that Branson – or Powell – made his attempt to escape. He knew, then, that the game was up, and that Mary Winters would have identified him as being Edward Powell. He pushed Lestrade out of the way, and ran out of the kitchen, to the back door of the house. He flung it open, intending to make his way across the gardens at the back of the house. But Powell only ran into a constable who had made his way to the back door. A short tussle later and Powell was back in the kitchen, with manacles on his wrists.
“Adam Branson – or Edward Powell, or whatever your name is – you are under arrest.” Lestrade said. He had not appreciated being knocked down to the floor. “We will start with assaulting a police officer, and go from there.”
Powell was led away. His attempt at gaining money by faking his death had failed, and he would now be spending some time as a guest of Her Majesty.
“If you do not mind, Lestrade, Watson and I will leave, as my task is complete.” said Holmes. “Sarasate is giving a recital of his Zigeunerweisen, and I think that we will go and enjoy a maestro at the top of his powers. Come, Watson, the call of the violin awaits…”
We left Lestrade looking somewhat bemused, but thankful that he could claim success in the case of the mystery of the ‘murder’ of Edward Powell. Yet another case had successfully been solved by Sherlock Holmes, a man at the height of his abilities. I wondered what new adventures awaited us in the future; but I was certain that, whatever mysteries might arise, that my good friend would solve them all.