Sherlock Holmes: The Solitary Cyclist

“You will excuse me, I am sure. It is my business,” said he, as he dropped it. “I nearly fell into the error of supposing that you were typewriting. Of course, it is obvious that it is music. You observe the spatulate finger-ends, Watson, which is common to both professions? There is a spirituality about the face, however”–she gently turned it towards the light–“which the typewriter does not generate. This lady is a musician.”

“Yes, Mr. Holmes, I teach music.”

“In the country, I presume, from your complexion.”

“Yes, sir, near Farnham, on the borders of Surrey.”

“A beautiful neighbourhood, and full of the most interesting associations. You remember, Watson, that it was near there that we took Archie Stamford, the forger. Now, Miss Violet, what has happened to you, near Farnham, on the borders of Surrey?”

The young lady, with great clearness and composure, made the following curious statement:

“My father is dead, Mr. Holmes. He was James Smith, who conducted the orchestra at the old Imperial Theatre. My mother and I were left without a relation in the world except one uncle, Ralph Smith, who went to Africa twenty-five years ago, and we have never had a word from him since. When father died, we were left very poor, but one day we were told that there was an advertisement in the Times, inquiring for our whereabouts. You can imagine how excited we were, for we thought that someone had left us a fortune. We went at once to the lawyer whose name was given in the paper. There we met two gentlemen, Mr. Carruthers and Mr. Woodley, who were home on a visit from South Africa. They said that my uncle was a friend of theirs, that he had died some months before in great poverty in Johannesburg, and that he had asked them with his last breath to hunt up his relations, and see that they were in no want. It seemed strange to us that Uncle Ralph, who took no notice of us when he was alive, should be so careful to look after us when he was dead, but Mr. Carruthers explained that the reason was that my uncle had just heard of the death of his brother, and so felt responsible for our fate.”

“Excuse me,” said Holmes. “When was this interview?”

“Last December–four months ago.”

“Pray proceed.”

“Mr. Woodley seemed to me to be a most odious person. He was for ever making eyes at me–a coarse, puffy-faced, red-moustached young man, with his hair plastered down on each side of his forehead. I thought that he was perfectly hateful–and I was sure that Cyril would not wish me to know such a person.”

“Oh, Cyril is his name!” said Holmes, smiling.

The young lady blushed and laughed.

4 Comments

  • Lizzy
    February 21, 2014 - 4:34 am | Permalink

    This was a favorite, being a Sherlock Holmes fan, and having a love of bicycles.

  • February 21, 2014 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve only had a passing interest in Doyle’s stories, familiar only with the famous Holmes stories (Hound of the Baskervilles, etc), so I was especially delighted to run into this story about the cyclist.

  • Pingback: Cyclelicious » Sherlock Holmes: another bike mystery

  • Jim Moore
    March 26, 2014 - 8:44 pm | Permalink

    “a bearded man on a bike has been skulking her, probably to shoot photos for his tweed ride cycle chic Tumblr” Very LOL funny. Well done.

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