McMurdo’s Camp


The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet

First published in: The Strand Magazine, May 1892

Time frame of story (known/surmised): February – year not given, likely mid-1880’s.

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

Opening scene: A well-dressed portly gentleman runs down the street from the train station to see Holmes, and is in a state of high agitation. Explains that one of the highest, noblest, most exalted men in England took out a short-term loan of £50,000 and left a valuable coronet loaded with jewels as security, an odd arrangement.

Client: Alexander Holder, a very prominent and well-know banker, one of the foremost citizens of London.

Crime or concern: Client took coronet home with him for safekeeping (a foolish move) and later found his son Arthur wrenching, or bending it, with a piece of the coronet and some beryls missing. Arthur refused to explain.

Villain: Sir George Brunwell, an upper class bounder and, unknown to the Holmes’ client, the lover of Mary, his niece and adopted daughter.

Motive: Money. Steal the the coronet and jewels and sell them.

Logic used to solve: Arthur’s story did not add up. Holmes summary: “Your son came down from his bed, went, at great risk, to your dressing-room, opened your bureau, took out your coronet, broke off by main force a small portion of it, went off to some other place, concealed three gems out of the thirty-nine, with such skill that nobody can find them, and then returned with the other thirty-six into the room in which he exposed himself to the greatest danger of being discovered.”

Policemen: Client had been to see the police who responded in force to the missing coronet, but who were unable to recover anything or find the thief. Police advised client to consult Holmes.

Holmes’ fees: SH to client: “You place no limit on the sum I may draw.”

Client’s reply: “I would give my fortune to have them back.” SH: “Very good.”

Holmes charged client £4000, which included £3000, 6s, in Holmes’ expenditures.

Transport: H&W and client took a short railway journey to the southern suburb of Streatham, and a short walk to Fairbank, the client’s home.

Food:: Holmes went out to investigate and took a slice of beef from the joint upon the sideboard, sandwiched it between two rounds of bread, and thrust this rude meal into his pocket.

Drink, Vices: none mentioned

Other cases mentioned: none

Notable Quotables: It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Other interestings: Both the Holder son Arthur and (adopted) daughter Mary refer to Alexander as “dad”.

Holmes tracks events by footprints in the snow. Arthur had gone out barefoot some distance.

Holmes goes out to investigate while disguised as a common loafer. Gets cleaned up and visits Brunwell.

Holmes’ hypothetical son: Your son has carried himself in this matter as I should be proud to see my own son do, should I ever chance to have one.”

When all is said and done: Mary stole the coronet and gave it to to Brunwell. Arthur gave chase and took the big hunk of it back by force, damaged, and covered for Mary. Holmes sees Brunwell, promises silence, gets name of fence who paid Brunwell £600 for the 3 beryls. Holmes pays fence £3000 and returns beryls. Mary runs off with Brunwell and gets what she deserves. Holders are sad to lose Mary, but happy to avoid ruin.

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