If you would say a word to Mrs. Saunders it would be quite in order. By the way, who is your house-agent?”

Our client was amazed at the sudden question.

“Holloway and Steele, in the Edgware Road. But why?”

“I am a bit of an archaeologist myself when it comes to houses,” said Holmes, laughing. “I was wondering if this was Queen Anne or Georgian.”

“Georgian, beyond doubt.”

“Really. I should have thought a little earlier. However, it is easily ascertained. Well, good-bye, Mr. Garrideb, and may you have every success in your Birmingham journey.”

The house-agent’s was close by, but we found that it was closed for the day, so we made our way back to Baker Street. It was not till after dinner that Holmes reverted to the subject.

“Our little problem draws to a close,” said he. “No doubt you have outlined the solution in your own mind.”

“I can make neither head nor tail of it.”

“The head is surely clear enough and the tail we should see to-morrow. Did you notice nothing curious about that advertisement?”

“I saw that the word ‘plough’ was misspelt.”

“Oh, you did notice that, did you? Come, Watson, you improve all the time. Yes, it was bad English but good American. The printer had set it up as received. Then the buckboards. That is American also. And artesian wells are commoner with them than with us. It was a typical American advertisement, but purporting to be from an English firm. What do you make of that?”

“I can only suppose that this American lawyer put it in himself. What his object was I fail to understand.”

“Well, there are alternative explanations. Anyhow, he wanted to get this good old fossil up to Birmingham. That is very clear. I might have told him that he was clearly going on a wild-goose chase, but, on second thoughts, it seemed better to clear the stage by letting him go. To-morrow, Watson — well, to-morrow will speak for itself.”

Holmes was up and out early. When he returned at lunchtime I noticed that his face was very grave.

“This is a more serious matter than I had expected, Watson,” said he. “It is fair to tell you so, though I know it will only be an additional reason to you for running your head into danger. I should know my Watson by now. But there is danger, and you should know it.”

“Well, it is not the first we have shared, Holmes. I hope it may not be the last. What is the particular danger this time?”

“We are up against a very hard case. I have identified Mr. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law. He is none other than ‘Killer’ Evans, of sinister and murderous reputation.”

“I fear I am none the wiser.”

“Ah, it is not part of your profession to carry about a portable Newgate Calendar in your memory. I have been down to see friend Lestrade at the Yard. There may be an occasional want of imaginative intuition down there, but they lead the world for thoroughness and method. I had an idea that we might get on the track of our American friend in their records. Sure enough, I found his chubby face smiling up at me from the rogues’ portrait gallery. ‘James Winter, alias Morecroft, alias Killer Evans,’ was the inscription below.” Holmes drew an envelope from his pocket. “I scribbled down a few points from his dossier: Aged forty-four. Native of Chicago. Known to have shot three men in the States. Escaped from penitentiary through political influence. Came to London in 1893. Shot a man over cards in a night-club in the Waterloo Road in January, 1895. Man died, but he was shown to have been the aggressor in the row. Dead man was identified as Rodger Prescott, famous as forger and coiner in Chicago. Killer Evans released in 1901. Has been under police supervision since, but so far as known has led an honest life. Very dangerous man, usually carries arms and is prepared to use them. That is our bird, Watson — a sporting bird, as you must admit.”

“But what is his game?”

“Well, it begins to define itself. I have been to the houseagent’s. Our client, as he told us, has been there five years. It was unlet for a year before then. The previous tenant was a gentleman at large named Waldron.

Sherlock Holmes
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