The following excerpts from Dr. Watson's biographies of his friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes have been posted to rec.arts.books.tolkien at various times by Mr. Öjevind Lång, who has kindly allowed their reproduction here. Illustrations are by Mr. Sidney Paget of Strand Magazine.
The Hanging Man
The Jumping Man
How Did He Get Back?
What Does F Stand For?
Why the Bodies Were Never Found
Where Did The Stone Come From?
The Adventure of the Disappearing Troll
The Lamedon Vampire
As my friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes, entered the shop, his deep-seated, keen eyes immediately perceived that a man had hanged himself from a hook in the ceiling. Following after him, I had the fact pointed out to me.
"This case is of course lucid, but it does have some interesting features," remarked Holmes.
"How do you mean?"
"Watson, I really would be at a loss what to do without you! Your predictability is like the Rock of Gibraltar. Now, you do see that this man's shoes have been newly blackened?"
"Furthermore, I notice that he has stood an excellent, fastidiously rolled umbrella against the counter, as if waiting for the proprietor to turn up."
"Yes. Where is the proprietor, by the way?"
"Really, Watson, I should have thought even you realized that the proprietor's whereabouts has no bearing on to the case."
"Your apology is accepted, Watson. Have you noticed the strange, flat object that adorns the floor under the unfortunate man's shoes?"
I bent down and took up the object in question.
"It is just a copy of 'Strand Magazine'. I fail to see how that can be of interest," remarked I.
"You do? Come, come. You know my methods, Watson; apply them."
I looked at the magazine. It had been opened upon a learned article by a well-known historian whose name had often been in the newspapers lately, since his appointment as tutor to the young Duke of Loamshire, a close kinsman of the Royal family.
"Apparently, he was reading 'Strand Magazine' while waiting for the owner of the shop to turn up," said I.
"Excellent, Watson! What is more, he was reading the very article your eyes are presently resting on; observe that his fingernails have bored into the right-hand page, where this very learned article, after having wended its long way across the opposite side, continues before as it were going around the corner to the next page again."
"He must have been he victim of a strong emotion," observed I.
Holmes smiled a bit sadly, as if his cold, strange intellect had for once been impressed by reflections of a more compassionate nature. "Indeed he was! How long is the article, Watson?"
I leafed through the magazine.
"It is eighteen pages long, more than all the other contributions together."
"Quite so! And what is the subject of the article?"
It had not occurred to me to consider that matter before. Now I looked.
"The article is called: 'Do Balrogs Have Wings, and Do They Flap?', but I really do not understand..." I fell silent as an icy emotion of terror permeated every inch of my body. I looked up at the pathetic, silent frame hanging from the ceiling. "He went out this morning, happy in his newly blackened boots. Coming into this shop, he meant to while away the time waiting for the proprietor by doing some reading, and then..."
Holmes nodded. "God help us!" he said. His face was pale, showing that even he felt some of the dread that the situation inevitably evoked.
The hall door had slowly opened, and against the lamp-lit background we saw the tall figure of Professor Presbury. He was clad in his dressing-gown. As he stood outlined in the doorway he was erect but leaning forward with dangling arms. Behind him, his shadow stretched like two stunted, rudimentary wings.
Now he stepped forward into the drive, and an extraordinary change came over him. He seemed to grow in stature, and his wing-like shadow swelled in size. With a growl, he proceeded to jump along the drive while flapping his arms, rather lika a demented bird trying to take flight. He jumped up to Holmes with his hands extended like claws and hissed. Fire spurted from his nostrils.
"Quick, Watson!" cried Holmes, moving backwards without taking his eyes from the menacing figure of the Professor. I hurried up to them and emptied my revolver into the daunting, monstrous body, which when observed at close range turned out to be entirely free from any kind of wing-like appendages. With a strange, shuddering cry, the Professor sank to the ground and expired.
"What on earth is this, Holmes?" said I while reloading my weapon.
"I think the envelope you apprehend sticking out of one of the Professor's dressing-gown pockets may throw some light on the matter," observed Holmes, wiping away some of the soot from the Professor's fiery breath with a handkerchief, a gift from a very higly positioned lady and embroidered in token thereof with the encrowned initials "V. R.". Carefully, he folded the handkerchief and returned it to his pocket. "Would you be so good as to pull it out and read it aloud?"
I proceeded to follow his instruction. Tearing out the enclosure, I read aloud:
Honoured Colleague. Since your esteemed visit I have thought much of your case, and though in your circumstance there are some special reasons for the treatment, I would nonetheless enjoin caution, as my results have shown that it is not without danger of a kind. It is possible that the Serum of Balrog may endow you with the rejuvenation you desire. However, there are some rather undesirable side-effects from treatment with the extract from the glands of Balrogs, particularly the strange delusion of being able to fly that so many Balrogs are, alas, prone for; a distorted perception which explains why their race is rapidly becoming extinct. I beg you to take every possible precaution if you decide to disregard my recommendation and proceed with these experiments. Weekly reports will oblige Yours with high esteem, H. Loewenstein.
Loewenstein! The name brought back to me the memory of some snippet from a newspaper which spoke of an obscure scientist who was striving in some unknown way for the secret of rejuvenescence and the elixir of life. Loewenstein of Prague! Loewenstein with the wondrous strength-giving serum, tabooed by the profession because he refused to reveal its source.
While I was given over to these thoughts, Holmes pulled out his Ring of Power and said to it: "Summon Lestrade and his men here!"
From the Ring issued a shrill, peevish voice: "Oh no, I won't! I'm fed up with being misused like some kind of cell phone all the time. Why don't you run and fetch them yourself?"
Holmes looked a the Ring with an incredulous eye. "I am your master!" he said to it. "Now do as you are told! Connect me to Lestrade's Ring at once!"
"Put a sock in it!" said the Ring.
Sterndale sat down with a gasp, overawed for, perhaps, the first time in his adventurous life. There was a calm assurance and power in Holmes' manner which could not be withstood. Our visitor stammered for a moment, his great hands opening and shutting in his agitation.
"What do you mean?" he asked, at last. "If this is a bluff upon your part, Mr. Holmes, you have chosen a bad man for your experiment. Let us have no more beating about the bush. What do you mean?"
"I will tell you," said Holmes, "and the reason why I tell you is that I hope frankness may beget frankness. What my next step may be will depend entirely upon the nature of your own defence."
"My defence against what?"
"Against the charge of killing Mortimer Tregennis."
Sterndale mopped his forehead with a handkerchief. "Upon my word, you are getting on," said he. "Do all your successes depend upon this prodigious power of bluff?"
"The bluff," said Holmes, sternly, "is upon you side, Dr. Leon Sterndale. As a proof I will tell you some of the facts upon which my conclusions are based. Of your return to England, allowing the ship to go on with much of your property to Africa, I will say nothing save that it first informed me that you were one of the actors that had to be taken into account in the reconstructing of this drama -"
"Pure speculation!" exclaimed Sterndale with a shivering chin.
"Not so!" said Holmes sternly. "I saw you spying outside Tregennis' house five days ago and followed you back to your lodgings at the inn."
"You followed me? I saw no one."
"That is what you may expect to see when I follow you. You spent a restless night at the inn, and you formed certain plans, which in the early morning you proceeded to put into execution. Leaving your door just as day was breaking, you filled your pocket with some reddish gravel which was lying heaped beside the gate."
Sterndale gave a violent start and looked at Holmes in amazement.
"You then walked swiftly for the mile that separated you from Tregennis' house. You were wearing, I may remark, the same pair of ribbed tennis shoes which are at the present moment upon your feet. Before the bend of the path immediately before the house, you met a Balrog you had hired for the nefarious business on hand. Together, the two of you passed through the orchard and the side hedge. The Balrog hid behind the hedge and you came out under the window of the room where Tregennis slept. It was now daylight, but the house was not yet stirring. You drew some of the gravel from the pocket, and you threw it up at the window above you -"
Sterndale sprang to his feet.
"I believe that you are the devil himself!" he cried.
Holmes smiled at the compliment. "It took two, or possibly three, handfuls before Tregennis came to the window. You beckoned to him to come down. He dressed hurriedly and descended to his sitting-room. You made a signal to the Balrog, who hurried forward; and together you entered by the window. There was an interview - a short one - during which you walked up and down the room. Then you passed out and closed the window, standing on the lawn outside smoking a cigar and watching what occurred. Finally, after the Balrog's breath - on your instructions, it was careful never to touch the man with hand or whip - had killed Tregennis, he once more passed out through the window, and together you proceeded to your lodgings, where the Balrog recieved his second and final payment for committing the murder for you."
Our visitor's face had turned ashen grey as he listened to the words of his accuser. However, with a final summoning of his strength, he straightened and said: "But how could I get there at all, Mr. Holmes? My ship was far out at sea at that time; you know it only sighted Bordeaux two days later. I tell you, only then did I hear of this terrible news and return to England."
"While the ship continued for Africa," said Holmes with a stern smile. "I fear, Dr. Sterndale, that you underestimate my connections. Allow me to introduce you to an old acquaintance."
He went to the door and flung it open. Outside, a giant bird, at least fifty feet from wing-tip to wing-tip, looomed against the sky. "Behold Thorondor, largest of all Eagles!" cried he. "Because of your ancient friendship, he heeded your call and came to you. On his back, you returned to England and your murder."
Sterndale tried to laugh scornfully.
"A likely story!" said he. "The ship was far from land. What business would an eagle have so far out to sea?"
"Pshaw!" said Holmes. "The Eagles are always on hand when they are needed for an errand."
There was a broad corridor there, which ran outside three empty bedrooms. At one end of the corridor we were all marshalled by Sherlock Holmes, the constables grinning and Lestrade staring at my friend with amazement, expectation and derision chasing each other across his features. Holmes stood before us with the air of a conjurer who is performing a trick.
"Would you kindly send one of your constables for two buckets of water? Put the straw on the floor here, free from the wall on either side. Now I think that we are all ready."
Lestrade hesitated, but then complied with Holmes' request, whereupon Holmes turned to me.
"Might I ask you, Watson, to open that window, and then to put a match to the edge of the straw?"
I did so, and driven by the draught, a coil of grey smoke swirled down the corridor, while the dry straw crackled and flamed.
"Now we must see if we can find the missing witness for you, Lestrade. Might I ask you all to join in the cry of 'Fire!'? Now, then; one, two, three -"
"Fire!" we all yelled.
"Thank you. I will trouble you once again."
"Just once more, gentlemen, and all together."
"Fire!" The shout must have rung over Norwood.
It had hardly died away when an amazing thing happened. A door suddenly flew open out of what appeared to be solid wall at the end of the corridor, and a little, wizened man darted out of it, like a rabbit out of its burrow.
"Capital!" said Holmes calmly. "Watson, a bucket of water over the straw. That will do! Lestrade, allow me to present you with your principal missing witness, Mr Jonas Forbes."
The detective stared at the new-comer with blank amazement. The latter was blinking in the bright light of the corridor, and peering at us and at the smouldering fire. It was an odious face - crafty, vicious, malignant, with shifty, light-grey eyes and white eyelashes.
"What's this, then?" said Lestrade at last. "What have you been doing all this time, eh?"
Forbes gave an uneasy laugh, shrinking back from the furious red face of the angry detective.
"I have done no harm."
"No harm? You have done your best to get an innocent man hanged. If it wasn't for this gentleman here, I am not sure that you would not have succeeded."
The wretched creature began to whimper.
"I am sure, sir, it was only my practical joke."
"Oh! a joke, was it? You won't find the laugh on your side, I promise you. Take him down and keep him in the sitting-room until I come. Mr Holmes," he continued, when they had gone, "I could not speak before the constables, but I don't mind saying, in the presence of Dr Watson, that this is the brightest thing you have done yet. You have saved an innocent man's life, and you have prevented a very grave scandal, which would have ruined my reputation in the Force."
Holmes smiled and clapped Lestrade upon the shoulder.
"Don't give it a second thought, my good sir. All you need is change your report a little, and all will be well."
"But I am still at a loss for one thing," Lestrade declared. "How on earth did the man think to escape from the grounds? The area is completely sealed off, and the army would have kept it up for a year, if need be, on the express instructions of the War Office."
Holmes smiled. "You forget the Balrog in the backroom," he said.
Lestrade stared at him. "The Balrog? What about it?"
"As you know, the Balrog refused to budge from the backroom, and could not be evicted because it could prove that it was an orphan. Well, our clever Mr Forbes had planned to fly out tonight on its back."
Lestrade sputtered. "But that is preposterous," he managed at last. "All educated people know that Balrogs can't fly."
"Just so; but Mr Forbes is, like all his relatives, not only an unscrupulous criminal (his sister Laurie is the proprietress of an infamous opium den down by the Thames) but also, again like all his family, badly informed and ignorant. He believed that the Balrog actually could fly."
"Amazing!" declared Lestrade. "What will we hear next? That Elves have cauliflower ears?"
"If you tell me precisely what passed between you, I may consider ameliorating circumstances," said Holmes, his eyes hooded as he pulled at his pipe.
"Very well, Mr Holmes. This is what happened - and it is Eru's own truth, all of it. I took to my heels, and I ran after the cab. I had a heavy oak stick in my hand, and I tell you that I saw red from the first; but as I ran I got cunning, too, and hung back a little to see them without being seen. They pulled up soon at the railway station. There was a good crowd round the booking-office, so I got quite close to them without being seen. They took tickets for the Havens of Sirion. So did I, but I got in three carriages behind them. When we reached it they walked along the Parade, and I was never more than a hundred yards from them. At last I saw them hire a boat and start for a row, for it was a very hot day, and they thought no doubt that it would be cooler on the water.
"It was just as if they had been given into my hands. There was a bit of a haze, and the sight was limited. I hired a boat for myself, and I pulled after them. I could see the blur of their craft, but they were going nearly as fast as I, and they must have been a long mile from the coast before I caught them up. The haze was like a curtain all round us, and there we were in the middle of it. Oh, Eru, shall I ever forget their faces when they saw who was in the boat that was closing in upon them? He swore like a madman, and jabbed at me with an oar, for he must have seen death in my eyes. I got past it and got one in with my stick, that crushed his head like an egg. I would have spared her, perhaps, for all my madness, but she threw her arms round him, crying out to him and calling him 'darling'. I struck again, and she lay stretched beside him. I was like a wild beast then that had tasted blood. Still, I had some thought for my own saftey - I struck a hole in the bottom of their boat and weighed it down with a heavy copy of Military Drill for Orcs that someone had left behind in my boat. I heard the gurgle as the boat sank with the two on them on board - I had nailed them to it with some tines from my iron crown. And now - what are you going to do with me, Mr Holmes? Please have mercy on me! I will turn a new leaf and live a life of loving and caring for others, if you will but let me go."
There was a long silence, broken only by his heavy breathing, and by the measured tapping of Sherlock Holmes' finger-tips upon the edge of the table. Then my friend rose, and threw open the door.
"Get out!" said he,
"What, sir? Oh, heaven bless you!"
"No more words. Get out!"
And no more words were needed. There was a rush, a clatter upon the stairs, the bang of a door, and the crisp rattle of running footfalls from the street.
"After all, Watson," said Holmes and relit his pipe, "I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies. And I must say that I rather sympathize with poor Morgoth. To be consumed with love for Lúthien and see her give her all to that lout Beren would have tempted the goodness of a Maia. Oh, dear - that's what he used to be, was it not? That only goes to confirm once more how infallible I am, Watson."
"Hum! So much for the police-court," said Holmes, thoughtfully tossing aside the paper. "The question for us now to solve is the sequence of events leading from a rifled jewel case at one end to the crop of a Balrog on Moria Court-road at the other. You see, Watson, our little deductions have suddenly assumed a much more important and less innocent aspect. Here is the Silmaril; the Silmaril came from the Balrog, and the Balrog was slaughtered by Gandalf, the gentleman with the tall pointed blue hat and all the other appurtenances implying that he is in possession of supernatural powers and great wisdom. So now we must set ourselves very seriously to finding this gentleman, and ascertaining what part he has played in this little mystery. To do this, we must try the simplest means first, and these lie undoubtedly in a advertisement in all the evening papers."
"What will you say?"
"Give me a pencil, and that slip of paper. Now, then: 'Found at the corner of Anfalas-street, a goose and a tall pointed blue hat. Mr Gandalf can have the same by applying at 6:30 this evening at 221B, Baker-street.' That is clear and concise."
"Very. But will he see it?"
"Oh, without a doubt. When he slaughtered that poor innocent Balrog and roasted it for his fiendish Hobbit friends, in his glee at preparing black soup out of its giblet he dropped his hat at the place of the murderous and cannibalistic feast. And he will be specially interested in retrieving this palladium for his head, Watson. There will be a most particular reason for it."
"What is that?"
"He forgot, in his gluttonous frenzy, that giblet soup can only be made out of birds, that is to say, out of winged creatures. Once his horrendous mistake has become manifest to him he will desire most fervently to retrieve at least something out of the debacle, such as his wizard's hat. I think you will agree that the poor man should be extended some kind of consolation, little though he deserves to be counted among the Wise after this."
"Who is on duty?" asked Holmes.
"Inspector Bradstreet, sir."
"Ah, Bradstreet, how are you?" A tall, stout official had come down the stone-flagged passage, in a peaked cap and frogged jaclet. "I wish to have a quiet word with you, Bradstreet."
"Certainly, Mr. Holmes. Step into my room here."
It was a small office-like room, with a huge ledger upon the table, and a telephone projecting from the wall, which was also adorned with a portrait of King Elessar. The inspector sat down at his desk.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes?"
"I called about the beggar dwarf, Forkbeard - the one who was charged with being concerned in the disappearance of Mr. McTorog, the well-to-do Troll."
"Yes. He was brought up and remanded for further inquiries."
"So I heard. Can I see him?"
"Oh, certainly. He is in the cells. He gives no trouble. But he is a dirty scoundrel."
"Yes, it is all we can to make him wash his hands, and his face is as black as a tinker's. Well, when once his case has been settled he will have a regular prison bath; and I think, when you see him, you will agree with me he needed it."
We followed the inspector, Holmes still carrying his bag,. Having led us down a passage, Bradstreet opened a barred door, passed down a winding stair, and brought us to a white-washed corridor with a line of doors on each side.
"The third on the right is his," said the inspector, quietly opening it. The three of us entered the cell. On the bunk the prisoner lay with his face towards us, in a very deep sleep, breathing slowly and heavily, He was rather large for a petty dwarf, coarsely clad as became his profession as a beggar, with a coloured shirt protruding from the rents in his tattered jerkin. He was, as the inspector had said, extremely dirty, but neither the grime which covered his face nor his greasy beard could conceal his repulsive ugliness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran right across his face from eye to chin, and by its contraction had turned up one side of the upper lip, so that three teeth were exposed in a perpetual snarl. A shock of very bright red hair, matching that of his beard, grew low over his eyes and forehead.
"He certainly needs a wash," remarked Holmes. "I had an idea he might, and I took the liberty of bringing the tools with me." He opened his Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took out a very large bath sponge.
"He! he! You are a funny one," chuckled the inspector. "By all means, go ahead, Mr. Holmes! He doesn't look a credit to the Bow-street cells, does he?"
Holmes stooped to the water jug, moistened his sponge, and then rubbed it twice vigorously across and down the prisoner's face.
"Let me introduce you," he shouted, "to Mr. Neville McTorog, of Torogville, in the county of Gorgoroth."
Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The dwarf's face peeled away under the sponge. Gone was the coarse brown tint! Gone, too, the horrid scar which had seamed it across, and the twised lip which had given the repulsive sneer to the face! Two twitches brought away the tangled red hair and beard, and there, sitting up in his bed, was a green-hued Troll who was ten times more repulsive without his disguise as a malformed dwarf.,
"Great heaven!" cried the inspector, "it is, indeed, the missing Troll. I know him from the photograph."
"Yes indeed," said Holmes. "When your men battered on the door to that room, inspector, Mr McTorog quickly donned the make-up he has been in the disgraceful habit of using while begging in the street under the false name of Hugh Forkbeard, petty dwarf. So now you know how he became a rich Troll with a nice little centrally-flamed house in Mordor."
"The vampire is reported to roam in Galador’s, Minalnen. Where is Minalnen, Watson?"
"It’s in Lamedon, south of Ethrin."
"Not very far, eh? And Galador’s?"
"I know that country, Holmes. It is full of old houses which are named after the men who built them centuries ago. You get Thalion’s and Bergil’s and Grithnir’s – the folk are forgotten but their names live in their houses."
"Precisely," said Holmes, coldly. It was one of the peculiarities of his proud, self-contained nature that though he docked any fresh information very quickly and accurately in his brain, he seldom made any acknowledgment to the giver. "I rather fancy we shall know a good deal more about Galador’s, Minalnen, before we are through. This letter is from Gondion, son of Damrod, a magistrate in the area. He begs us to unmask the identity of a vampire terrorizing the population so that the authorities can deal with him. The local police are baffled as usual."
"Are not vampires a little outside our purview, Holmes?"
"That was my first thought too. On reflection, however, it occurred to me that the price of fifty thousand pounds set on the vampire’s head might be of great assistance. Bombadil, my cocaine supplier, has seen fit to further increase the price for his wares."
"Holmes, let me once more beg you to desist –"
"I will not listen to your unprovoked flames, Watson. The Eagles are waiting outside to take us to Galador’s, Minalnen. You are free to come with me or not, as you see fit."
After a some hours of flight, the eagles set us down at our destination, received some scrip redeemable in Rivendell as payment for their trouble and flew off screaming uncomplimentary observations regarding my friend, who used this opportunity to unload some rubbish forced upon him by Denethor, the scheming swindler who had caused us so much grief before his timely death in the Anduinbach Falls. Gondion, son of Damrod, was waiting for us outside his house in the company of an old acquaintance of ours.
"Ah, Inspector Lestrade," said my friend, without pretending to a surfeit of pleasure. "So you are here too?"
"As you see, Mr Holmes," said the official detective. "I was called in yesterday. And let me say, Mr Holmes, that we have made some considerable progress on this case. Only three suspects are left, though we do seem incapable of ascertaining which of them is the vampire."
"The suspects are?"
"Hector McDírhael, Algernon of Dol Amroth and Isumbras Took – very suspicious characters the three of them. They all have a fondness for Bloody Marys. Furthermore, Gondion has seen them prowl about in the vicinity during more than one of these terrible murders."
"Anything more to add, Gondion?," inquired Holmes, turning towards the magistrate: a small, wrinkled, stooped man with a white beard, woollen mittens and a toboggan hood pulled down over his ears.
"Not while we are standing here, Mr Holmes," responded Gondion in a quavering voice. "Please, Mr Holmes, let us not discuss this further outdoors! I am freezing."
Holmes raised his eyebrows. "Freezing?" he said. "The air is quite balmy."
Gondion chuckled, but was interrupted by a hacking, wheezing cough. He refreshed himself by taking a swig of throat syrup from a silver flask.
"When you are my age, Mr Holmes," declared he, "you will be more sensible of the weather’s inclemencies! Just look at me – I am blue with cold!"
I had already noted, with wonder and pity, that Gondion’s skin was indeed a pronounced blue. We went up the path and entered Gondion’s home, a rather suburbanite villa with its name written in gold leaf letters on the wall beneath a red-tiled roof. Inside, a round, matronly servant was bustling about and a monumental fire was roaring in the fireplace.
"Well, Mr Holmes," continued the old man, "what do you wish to know about our three suspects? I know everything about the inhabitants of the district."
"I need to know nothing," answered Holmes with a calm smile and a twinkle in his austere grey eyes.
"Nothing? Nothing at all, Mr Holmes?"
"Nothing, Gondion. All I need to do to unmask the vampire is ask you to remove your mittens."
"Mr Holmes, are you mad?" exclaimed Lestrade. "You are speaking to the most respected man in the district."
My friend ignored him. His gaze was fixed on Gondion, who began to back away from him.
"Please remove your right mitten," said Holmes quietly.
The old man turned to fly, but Holmes sprang like a tiger to his back and hurled him flat upon his face. He was up again in a moment, and with convulsive strength he seized Holmes by the throat; but I struck him on the head with the butt of my revolver and he dropped again upon the floor. I fell upon him, and as I held him my comrade swiftly removed the mitten on Gondion’s right hand. I gasped as it became manifest that there were only four fingers on it.
"His hand only has four fingers, but it can still give pain," declared Holmes. "Allow me to introduce you to Papa Smurf, also known as Sauron!"
Sauron looked at him with red, flashing eyes and bared his sharp fangs. "You fiend!" he kept on muttering; "you clever, clever fiend!"
"I am certainly more clever than you," said Holmes laughing. "Trying to impress Lestrade with your keenness to have this solved by consulting me did not constitute the optimal in genius. Furthermore, showing me the fireplace where you are wont to make your infamous Rings gave me the final clue needed to be fairly certain that I had found the person I was looking for. Pretending to be old and cold and in need of a constant fire! That, on the other hand, certainly was a clever stratagem. However, baptizing your home 'The Cracks of Doom' and putting the name on its facade was not."
Lestrade and Tobias Gregson got up and walked away from the fire. The Ring-bearer remained seated in silence; his eyes rested broodingly on the burning wood, and despite the chill I perceived miniscule droplets on his brow. Sitting beside him, I pulled out my service revolver and ascertained that it was loaded. Holmes was watching the moonlight on the hill intently. All seemed quet and still, but I felt a cold dread creeping over my heart. As I put another stick of wood on the fire, Lestrade came running back from the edge of the dell.
"I do not know what it is," he said, "but suddenly I felt afraid. I would not go outside this dell for all the tea in China; I felt that something was creeping up the slope."
"Did you see anything?" inquired Holmes, springing to his feet.
"I saw something," said Gregson; "or I thought I did - away westwards where the moonlight is falling on the flats beyond the shadow of the hill-tops. I thought there were two or three black shapes. They seemed to be be moving this way."
"Keep close to the fire, with your faces outward!" cried Holmes. "Get some of the longer sticks ready in your hands!"
Over the lip of the little dell, on the side away from the hill, we felt, rather than saw, a shadow rise, one shadow or more than one. I strained my eyes, and the shadows seemed to grow. Soon there could be no doubt: three or four tall black figures were standing there on the slope, looking down on us. I had the impression of a faint hiss as of venomous breath, and felt a thin piercing chill. Then the shapes slowly advanced.
Terror overcame Lestrade and Gregson, and they threw themselves flat on the ground. The Ring-bearer remained standing, though visibly quaking. A strange glitter was in his eyes, and his mouth worked as if resisting mounting panic and temptation at the same time. Suddenly, he sprang away from the fire and raced towards the menacing shapes.
"No! Do not go there!" said Holmes; but it was too late. The racing figure approached the intruders, and then disappeared. The moon shone down on the landscape and the still advancing frames, but no trace of our companion could be seen. Holmes clenched his fists and ran towards the spot. Not without a twinge of doubt, I followed.
Suddenly, a knife gleamed in the dark; it was impossible to tell who or what was wielding it. I heard the Ring-bearer shout aloud: "O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!". The black shapes backed away and then fled before we came up to the place where they had been standing. Hesitantly, Lestrade and Gregson came up after us.
A sight that filled us with horror and pity materialized before our eyes. There, lying on the grass, was the Ring-bearer, unconscious, his hand clutching the ominous ring.
"They have killed Kenny!" exclaimed Lestrade.
"The bastards!" shouted Gregson.