“Fail-proof horse hoof polish!” the radio screeched out. I turned the dial to the next station “Breaking news, from the London Times! Another perplexing mystery has been solved by the honorable Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Doctor John Watson! They were brought the case only 3 days ago. A certain young woman named Helen Stoner came to their living quarters on Baker Street with this strange story. Today with us, we have the venerable Dr. Watson who is going to tell us about the case.” I was immensely interested in the work of the two men.
“So, Doctor, what can you tell us about this new case?” I turned my attention back to my radio “Well, I will start at the beginning. Miss Stoner came to us three mornings ago. She lives at her stepfather’s estate in Surrey, near Leatherhead. Two years ago, Miss Stoner woke to a loud shriek and then a whistle from the room next to hers, where her twin sister was sleeping. She rushed into the adjoining room only to hear her sister scream “the speckled band!” and then slump to the floor, dead. Miss Stoner was forced to sleep in her deceased sister’s room for the past week or so due to renovations in her room. It was right next to her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s bedroom. Ever since she moved into the room next to his, she heard the strange whistles that she heard the night that her sister died. The night before Miss Stoner came to us, she heard the whistle accompanied with a hissing sound and got so frightened that she barred her bedroom door, locked the shutters, and took every precaution that nobody or nothing could get into her room.
The next morning, her stepfather was out, so she took a dogcart to my friend and I’s dwelling on Baker Street. After hearing her story (what I’ve just told you) my friend commenced with questioning her, especially about her stepfather. It turns out that he had lived in India for quite a time with his wife, while he learned about the Indian ways of doctoring. His wife died in India, leaving 200 pounds to each of her daughters upon the event of their marriage. He had served a sentence in prison for killing his Indian butler out of pure rage, and that he was in a good deal of debt. Holmes also found that he had no love for his stepdaughters whatsoever, was often gone for extended periods of time and kept many Indian animals for pets, including a cheetah and baboon, of which Miss Stoner was very frightened of. We also learned that when the young lady’s sister was going to be married the day after she died, that Miss Stoner was at this time engaged also, and that she was very scared of her stepfather.
We arranged to come that afternoon, while Dr. Roylott would still be out and investigate. Miss stoner left our rooms, and not 10 minutes later, we heard an angry tug on the bell rope, and pounding footsteps coming up the stairs. A large, commanding figure stood in our doorway. He introduced himself as Dr. Grimesby Roylott and commenced in telling us that his stepdaughter was of a very excitable nature, prone to over exaggerate things and that if we believed anything she said, we were mad. He also told us that if he found us meddling with his affairs, it would not bode well for us. He grabbed the fire poker and with two large hands, bent it almost completely over as if to prove his strength, and then pounded back down the stairs. Holmes chuckled, picked up the poker and calmly bent it back to its normal shape. We could see now how Miss Stoner was frightened of him.
That afternoon, when we arrived, we found that thankfully, the Doctor was still gone. Miss Stoner took us up to her bedroom, which my companion inspected carefully. There was no way for anything or anyone to get through the window. It was barred, shuttered, and locked. After looking the whole room over, Holmes noticed three strange things. There was a bell cord next to the bed that didn’t ring any bells, the bed was bolted to the floor, and a ventilator that went into the adjoining room, which happened to be Dr. Roylott’s own bedroom, where we went next. What we found was a large messy room with a large safe in it, a table covered in papers, a chair with a stick placed on it that had a leather loop on the end, a saucer of milk, and a few odds and ends from India. My friend must have seen something that I didn’t, because I could tell that he was very pleased.
After inspecting the grounds and giving Miss Stoner some instructions, we went home to Baker street. However, we didn’t stay there long. Holmes told me to get my revolver, he took a few things, and then we left. I had no clue where we were going. We ended up at a lodging house across the road from the Roylott estate, with a perfect view of the house. It was then that I recalled the instructions that Holmes gave Miss Stoner. He had told her to light an oil lamp and put it in the window of her room, until her stepfather had gone to bed, and had ceased to move around in his room. She was also supposed to pack a valise and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We settled down in a room at the lodging house and waited until dark. About 9:30, the oil lamp went out. Holmes jumped up, grabbing his coat and mine, which he handed to me, as I put my revolver snuggly in the inside pocket.
As we snuck into the Roylott grounds we were startled by the baboon running across the lawn. Climbing into the window that led into Miss Stoner’s room (she had opened the shutters and bars) Holmes helped her out the window and told her that there was a cab waiting at the lodging house for her, to take her to her Aunt’s house for safety. Then, we settled down for a long night of intense waiting. Our nerves were strung high, and our ears were tuned to the slightest noise from the room next to the one that we were occupying.
At about 1:35 am, we heard a stirring from the next room. It was followed by the sound of about 10 footsteps, a slight grating noise, another 10 steps, the sound of a chair scraping lightly across the floor, and the squeak of wood as someone stood on top of the chair. Holmes silently picked up his riding whip off of the floor and looked as though he was ready to spring. All of a sudden, we heard the whistle that Miss Stoner had told us about and saw something sliding out of the ventilator, and onto the bell cord. At the same time, we heard a hissing sound, akin to that of steam escaping a pressurized water container. Holmes sprung up with a wild yell and started attacking the bell cord with his stout leather whip. He shoved something back through the ventilator, and then we heard a blood-curdling scream and a heavy thud. We raced to Dr. Roylott’s room and forced the door open. He was lying on the floor with a speckled snake latched onto his neck. Holmes picked the snake up with the stick with the leather loop on the end, shoved it in the safe, and slammed the door. Dr. Grimesby Roylott was dead within 5 minutes. It turns out that the doctor had brought the black and yellow speckled cobra from India and trained it with a series of whistle signals. He had been sending the snake through the ventillator every night for a week, waiting for the snake to find it’s mark. Fortunately for Miss Stoner, it hadn’t.”
“The rest of the story in just a minute.” The radio man’s voice came through, high pitched and nasal. The broadcast was interrupted here by advertisements. I waited until the obnoxious things ended “And now, the rest of the story from Dr. John Watson.” I leaned forward in my chair “When we were finally back in our rooms at Baker Street, I asked my friend how he had deduced that Dr. Roylott was the murderer. He started telling me all of the many clues that I had missed; The dirty fingerprints on the wall going up to the ventilator, the signs on the chair of it being stood on frequently, the snake holder (the stick with a leather loop attached to the end), and the saucer of milk to feed the snake with, and the hissing that Miss Stoner had heard the night before. Also, that the only motive for the murder (and attempted murder) of the two young women was to be able to keep the money that the girls’ mother had left them. Another crucial clue was that Dr. Roylott had construction going on that made the girl have to sleep in the room next to him before the first murder, as well as the attempted second murder. The murder and attempted murder happened just before both girls were to be married (this is when they would have claimed the money that their mother left them), though 2 years apart, thus enhancing his theory and the suspected motive for the crime.”
“I had seen a few of these clues, not realizing the importance of them, while the others, I was totally oblivious to.”
“And what has become of Miss Stoner?” The high pitched nasal voice came again. “Is she still living at the Roylott estate?”
“Miss Helen Stoner is now living with her Aunt out in the English countryside until the full police investigation is over, and she is married.”
“Quite an impressive case, Doctor” the radio man said. “Yes, my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic detective, and never ceases to amaze me with his admirable deducing skills.”
I flipped the radio off, turned my collar up, and went out to the misty street to start my long day of work. Detective work, to be precise, and a new case had come in today. My name is Sherlock Holmes.