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2020-08-07 10:05:18  Դձ
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վַ:a g 9 559 v i p<"I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes.From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of redin his hair had tramped into the city to answer the advertisement.Fleet Street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope's Courtlooked like a coster's orange barrow. I should not have thoughtthere were so many in the whole country as were brought togetherby that single advertisement. Every shade of colour theywere--straw, lemon, orange, brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay; but,as Spaulding said, there were not many who had the real vividflame-coloured tint. When I saw how many were waiting, I wouldhave given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear of it.How he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled andbutted until he got me through the crowd, and right up to thesteps which led to the office. There was a double stream upon thestair, some going up in hope, and some coming back dejected; butwe wedged in as well as we could and soon found ourselves in theoffice.""I hardly consider that a conclusive proof. Was the remainder of thecoronet at all injured?"

"Come- come, do what I ask."

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"You wrote it? There was no one on earth outside the Joint whoknew the secret of the dancing men. How came you to write it?""What one man can invent another can discover," said Holmes. Thereis a cab coming to convey you to Norwich, Mr. Slaney. But meanwhile,you have time to make some small reparation for the injury you havewrought. Are you aware that Mrs. Hilton Cubitt has herself lainunder grave suspicion of the murder of her husband, and that it wasonly my presence here, and the knowledge which I happened topossess, which has saved her from the accusation? The least that youowe her is to make it clear to the whole world that she was in no way,directly or indirectly, responsible for his tragic end.""I ask nothing better," said the American. "I guess the very bestcase I can make for myself is the absolute naked truth.""It is my duty to warn you that it will be used against you,"cried the inspector, with the magnificent fair play of the Britishcriminal law.

"Ah, my unfortunate nephew! You can understand that our kinshipmakes it the more impossible for me to screen him in any way. I fearthat the incident must have a very prejudicial effect upon hiscareer."

"Yes, sir, I do, and I am ready enough to tell what I know.""Then, pray, sit down, and let us hear it, for there are severalpoints on which I must confess that I am still in the dark.""I will soon make it clear to you," said she; "and I'd have doneso before now if I could ha' got out from the cellar. If there'spolice-court business over this, you'll remember that I was the onethat stood your friend, and that I was Miss Alice's friend too."She was never happy at home, Miss Alice wasn't, from the timethat her father married again. She was slighted like and had no say inanything, but it never really became bad for her until after she metMr. Fowler at a friend's house. As well as I could learn, Miss Alicehad rights of her own by will, but she was so quiet and patient, shewas, that she never said a word about them, but just left everythingin Mr. Rucastle's hands. He knew he was safe with her; but whenthere was a chance of a husband coming forward, who would ask forall that the law would give him, then her father thought it time toput a stop on it. He wanted her to sign a paper, so that whether shemarried or not, he could use her money. When she wouldn't do it, hekept on worrying her until she got brain-fever, and for six weekswas at death's door. Then she got better at last, all worn to ashadow, and with her beautiful hair cut off; but that didn't make nochange in her young man, and he stuck to her as true as man could be.""Ah," said Holmes, "I think that what you have been good enough totell us makes the matter fairly clear, and that I can deduce allthat remains. Mr. Rucastle then, I presume, took to this system ofimprisonment?"

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Fancy anyone having the heart to hurt him," he muttered as heglanced down at the small, angry red pucker upon the cherub throat.It was at this moment that I chanced to glance at Holmes and saw amost singular intentness in his expression. His face was as set asif it had been carved out of old ivory, and his eyes, which hadglanced for a moment at father and child, were now fixed with eagercuriosity upon something at the other side of the room. Followinghis gaze I could only guess that he was looking out through the windowat the melancholy, dripping garden. It is true that a shutter had halfclosed outside and obstructed the view, but none the less it wascertainly at the window that Holmes was fixing his concentratedattention. Then he smiled, and his eyes came back to the baby. Onits chubby neck there was this small puckered mark. Withoutspeaking, Holmes examined it with care. Finally he shook one of thedimpled fists which waved in front of him.

But it was not our prisoner to whom Holmes was giving his attention.Squatted on the doorstep, he was engaged in most carefully examiningthat which the man had brought from the house. It was a bust ofNapoleon, like the one which we had seen that morning, and it had beenbroken into similar fragments. Carefully Holmes held each separateshard to the light, but in no way did it differ from any othershattered piece of plaster. He had just completed his examination whenthe hall lights flew up, the door opened, and the owner of thehouse, a jovial, rotund figure in shirt and trousers, presentedhimself.

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"Well, it's very handsome of you, I am sure. And your friend, Dr.Watson, can he trusted, I know. Now, Mr. Holmes, as we walk down tothe place there is one question I should like to ask you. I'dbreathe it to no soul but you." He looked round as thorough hehardly dare utter the words. "Don't you think there might be a caseagainst Mr. Neil Gibson himself?"

"It was on a different panel of the door."

"But left some vindictive feeling, perhaps."

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<"And from what?""Well, that's likely enough. But I wish to call your attentionvery particularly to the position of this house, in the garden ofwhich the bust was destroyed."

"Lord Robert St. Simon," announced our page-boy, throwing open thedoor. A gentleman entered, with a pleasant, cultured face,high-nosed and pale, with something perhaps of petulance about themouth, and with the steady, well-opened eye of a man whose pleasantlot it had ever been to command and to be obeyed. His manner wasbrisk, and yet his general appearance gave an undue impression of age,for he had a slight forward stoop and a little bend of the knees as hewalked. His hair, too, as he swept off his very curly-brimmed hatwas grizzled round the edges and thin upon the top. As to his dress,it was careful to the verge of foppishness, with high collar, blackfrock-coat, white waistcoat, yellow gloves, patent leather shoes,and light-coloured gaiters. He advanced slowly into the room,turning his head from left to right, and swinging in his right handthe cord which held his golden eyeglasses.

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վƹѧҪЭҪдԣͳһ "This is the street," said he as we turned into a short thoroughfarelined with plain two-storied brick houses. "Ah, here is Simpson toreport." ϸ

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վ°ķ96ٷйϣóȡóɹ "Now, sir, I must ask you more particularly what this document is,and why its disappearance should have such momentous consequences?"The two statesmen exchanged a quick glance and the Premier'sshaggy eyebrows gathered in a frown. ϸ

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