McMurdo’s Camp


The Yellow Face

First published in: The Strand Magazine, February 1893 and Harper’s Weekly, February 11, 1893

Time frame of story (known/surmised): Around April 1, mid-1880’s. No positive date except for time of year.

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

Opening scene: H&W returned from a Spring walk to find client had called, departed, and left his pipe behind. Holmes examined the pipe and made some deductions about the client. Client then returns and discusses case. The interview takes up about ¾ of the story.

Client: Mr. Grant Munro, a hop-merchant

Crime or concern: Odd and deceptive behavior of client’s wife, an American immigrant. Yellow face spotted in upstairs of cottage near Munro’s house. Munro began to distrust wife, with good reason.

Villain: None

Motive: Wife was hiding existence of her little coal-black negress daughter, from a previous marriage. Daughter was darker-skinned than deceased husband, John Hebron, of Atlanta.

Logic used to solve: None. Holmes was on the wrong track. Solved case by barging into cottage and confronting wife and daughter. Daughter had been wearing a yellow mask to hide her face.

Policemen: none

Holmes’ fees: No mention.

Transport: H&W take the 7 o’clock train to Norbury.

Food: none

Drink: none

Vices: No participation in this story. Mention of cocaine use by Holmes when bored.

Other cases mentioned: The Musgrave Ritual

Notable Quotables: “Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest. Nothing has more individuality, save perhaps watches and bootlaces.”

Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”

Other interestings: In this story, H&W have a page-boy.

Holmes analysis of the situation was incorrect. YELL represents one of Holmes’ few failures.

In the end, Grant Munro accepted the child lovingly, an outcome which pleased Watson.

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