McMurdo’s Camp


The Adventure of the Three Garridebs

First published in: Collier’s Weekly, October 25, 1924; The Strand Magazine, January 1925

Time frame of story (known/surmised): Stated by Watson, the latter end of June, 1902, shortly after the conclusion of the South African War.

H&W living arrangements: Sharing bachelor quarters at 221B.

Opening scene: Homes had a letter from a potential client, Nathan Garrideb, who had been contacted by a John Garrideb, an American, who said there was big money if they could find a third adult male Garrideb, thanks to an unusual will filed by a wealthy deceased American Garrideb who took pride in the queerness of his unusual name. John Garrideb was a short, powerful man with the round, fresh, clean-shaven face characteristic of American men of affairs. The general effect was chubby and rather childlike. His eyes, however, were arresting.

Client: Nathan Garrideb, who consulted Holmes. He was a native Londoner. He was a very tall, loosejointed, round-backed person, gaunt and bald, some sixty-odd years of age. He had a cadaverous face, with the dull dead skin of a man to whom exercise was unknown. Large round spectacles and a small projecting goat’s beard combined with his stooping attitude gave him an expression of peering curiosity. He was an amiable but eccentric collector. His rooms were like a small museum, with cupboards and cabinets all round, crowded with specimens.

Crime or concern: Holmes’ concern was the telling of such an obvious rigmarole of lies by the man who called himself John Garrideb. Actual crime involved luring the introverted Nathan Garrideb out of his lodgings on a wild-goose chase so the crooks could recover counterfeiting plates and bills left there before they were jailed, which was prior to Nathan Garrideb taking up residence. The whole of the Garrideb invention was for no other end.

Villain: The poseur, John Garrideb, whose actual name was James Winter, alias Morecroft, alias Killer Evans, of sinister and murderous reputation.

Motive: Recover the counterfeiting apparatus and material left in Nathan Garrideb’s basement (unknown to Nathan).

Logic used to solve: Holmes tested the man who presented himself as John Garrideb, from Topeka, Kansas, USA. “Good old Dr. Starr” (doctor Lysander Starr, former mayor of Topeka and a correspondent of Holmes). Holmes made it all up to check his suspicion that John Garrideb was lying, and Holmes was correct. What motive lay behind this preposterous search for Garridebs? It was worthy of attention, granting that the man was a rascal, but certainly a complex and ingenious one.

Misspelling of the word “plough” (as “plow”) in the advertisement of Howard Garrideb of Birmingham indicated an American.

A visit to the house-agent revealed that Prescott, the counterfeiter, had lived in the house prior to Nathan Garrideb. Prescott was shot and killed by John Garrideb, aka Winter/Morecroft/Evans.

Policemen: After agreeing to have Nathan Garrideb go up to Birmingham to check out the recently-discovered third Garrideb, Howard, Holmes went down to see friend Lestrade at the Yard and examined the rogues’ portrait gallery.

Holmes’ fees: No mention, but probably not a lucrative case for Holmes, because his client’s castle in the air fell down and he lost his reason.

Transport: H&W went to Little Ryder Street by unspecified means.

Nathan Garrideb was sent to Birmingham to see the third Garrideb, leaving at noon and arriving soon after two. He was able to return the same night.

Food and Drink: No mention

Vices: Holmes had lit his pipe, and he sat for some time with a curious smile upon his face after testing the veracity of John Garrideb.

Other cases mentioned: Winters’ earlier crimes. 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, and was identified as Rodger Prescott, famous as a forger and coiner in Chicago.

Notable Quotables: Holmes : “You’re not hurt, Watson? For God‘s sake, say that you are not hurt!” And to Evans: “By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.” Watson’s reaction: “For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.”

Other interestings: The setting sun: greatly accelerated when H&W went to visit Nathan Garrideb, who lived near the Edgware Road, within a stone-cast of old Tyburn Tree, which in previous centuries had been the site of hangings of criminals and other miscreants.

This story shares a plot element with REDH and STOC, which is tricking someone to go elsewhere whist the criminal takes advantage of the absence to commit the crime.

In the modern world there is a famous Sherlockian publication named Prescott’s Press, which is “printed for private circulation and is said by experts to be the last word upon the subject”. It gets its name from this story and from the description in NAVA of Holmes’ writing of the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus, which had been printed for private circulation, and was said by experts to be the last word upon the subject.

There was a character named “Lysander Stark” in ENGR.

When all was said and done: Nathan, the real Garrideb, never got over the shock of his dissipated dreams. When his castle in the air fell down, it buried him beneath the ruins. He was last heard of at a nursing-home in Brixton.

In capturing Winters, Watson was shot in the leg, but superficially.

Winters, aka Evans, was captured by H&W and turned over to the next stage, and the Killer returned to those shades from which he had just emerged.

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