McMurdo’s Camp


The Resident Patient

First published in: The Strand Magazine, August 1893; Harper’s Weekly, August 12, 1893

Time frame of story (known/surmised): Stated “A close, rainy day in October” Likely in 1886 or ’87.

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

Opening scene: Holmes reads Watson’s mind regarding Henry Beecher and the U.S. Civil War. Then H&W go for a 3-hour walk, and upon returning, find that a doctor has called upon them late (10:00 pm) in the evening.

Client: Dr. Percy Trevelyan, who lived at 403 Brook Street, a sombre, flat-faced house which one associates with a West End practice. Trevelyan was an academically elite and very talented and promising but financially struggling young physician, who was the author of a monograph upon obscure nervous lesions. The great stumbling-block to a lucrative practice lay in his want of capital. Then, an investor with a bad heart and a need for close medical care, Blessington, funded Trevelyan’s practice/household and took up residence in the building for a share of the income. From the first the arrangement was a success.  The practice flourished.

Crime or concern: For a week Blessington had been in a peculiar state of restlessness, peering continually out of the windows. Then he was found hanged in his rooms, dead.

Villains: Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat, the Worthingdon bank gang. Also Blessington himself, formerly one of the gang, who got himself into the mess in the first place.

Motive: Revenge. Blessington, aka Sutton, was a former bank robber who informed on his partners, the Worthingdon gang. After 15 years in gaol, they were released, hunted him down, and killed him, making it look like a suicide.

Logic used to solve: Holmes could read in a man’s eye when it is his own skin that he is frightened for. He understood Blessington knew who the two men were who seemed to be after him.

Examination of four cigar-ends Inspector Lanner picked out of the fireplace. Holmes could tell a Havana from the other cigars, which were of a peculiar sort imported by the Dutch from their East Indian colonies. They were usually thin and wrapped in straw. Holmes examined the four ends with his pocket-lens. He determined the four were smoked by two different men.

Scratches on this ward of the door-lock, where the pressure was applied.

The young imp of a page, who was missing, and seemed to be in on it too.

Policemen: Lanner, a smart-looking police-inspector

Holmes’ fees: No mention. Possibly a problem here, as the finance behind the client ended up dead.

Transport: After receiving an urgent note from client summoning them in the morning, H&W took a brougham to Brook St.

Food: After investigating the crime scene, H&W returned to Baker Street for breakfast.

Drink: no mention

Vices: While listening to his client’s story, Holmes’ smoke had curled up more thickly from his pipe.

Other cases mentioned: STUD and GLOR. Watson describes writing these as the “Scylla and Charybdis (two choices, both bad) which are forever threatening the historian”.

Notable Quotables: “He was living under the shield of British law, and I have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see that, though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of justice is still there to avenge.” – SH

Other interestings: The first glimmer of daylight occurred at 7:30 a.m.

Holmes whistled upon hearing that Blessington had hanged himself during the night.

When all is said and done: The remainder of the gang disappeared. Scotland Yard believed they were among the passengers of the ill-fated steamer Norah Creina, which was lost with all hands upon the Portuguese coast, some leagues to the north of Oporto.

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