The yellow face arthur conan doyle
The Yellow Face
Arthur Conan Doyle
[In publishing these short sketches based upon the numerous cases in
which my companion's singular gifts have made us the listeners to, and
eventually the actors in, some strange drama, it is only natural that I
should dwell rather upon his successes than upon his failures. And this
not so much for the sake of his reputation — for, indeed, it was when
he was at his wits' end that his energy and his versatility were most
admirable — but because where he failed it happened too often that no one
else succeeded, and that the tale was left forever without a conclusion.
Now and again, however, it chanced that even when he erred, the truth
was still discovered. I have noted of some half-dozen cases of the
kind; the Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual and that which I am about to
recount are the two which present the strongest features of interest.]
Sherlock Holmes was a man who seldom took exercise for exercise's sake.
Few men were capable of greater muscular effort, and he was undoubtedly
one of the finest boxers of his weight that I have ever seen; but he
looked upon aimless bodily exertion as a waste of energy, and he seldom
bestirred himself save when there was some professional object to be
served. Then he was absolutely untiring and indefatigable. That he
should have kept himself in training under such circumstances is
remarkable, but his diet was usually of the sparest, and his habits
were simple to the verge of austerity. Save for the occasional use of
cocaine, he had no vices, and he only turned to the drug as a protest
against the monotony of existence when cases were scanty and the papers
One day in early spring he had so far relaxed as to go for a walk with
me in the Park, where the first faint shoots of green were breaking out
upon the elms, and the sticky spear-heads of the chestnuts were just
beginning to burst into their five-fold leaves. For two hours we rambled
about together, in silence for the most part, as befits two men who know
each other intimately. It was nearly five before we were back in Baker
Street once more.
"Beg pardon, sir," said our page-boy, as he opened the door. "There's
been a gentleman here asking for you, sir."
Holmes glanced reproachfully at me. "So much for afternoon walks!" said
he. "Has this gentleman gone, then?"
"Didn't you ask him in?"
"Yes, sir; he came in."
"How long did he wait?"
"Half an hour, sir. He was a very restless gentleman, sir, a-walkin'
and a-stampin' all the time he was here. I was waitin' outside the door,
sir, and I could hear him. At last he outs into the passage, and he
cries, 'Is that man never goin' to come?' Those were his very words,
sir. 'You'll only need to wait a little longer,' says I. 'Then I'll wait
in the open air, for I feel half choked,' says he. 'I'll be back before
long.' And with that he ups and he outs, and all I could say wouldn't
hold him back."
"Well, well, you did your best," said Holmes, as we walked into our
room. "It's very annoying, though, Watson. I was badly in need of
a case, and this looks, from the man's impatience, as if it were of
importance. Hullo! That's not your pipe on the table. He must have
left his behind him. A nice old brier with a good long stem of what the
tobacconists call amber. I wonder how many real amber mouthpieces there
are in London? Some people think that a fly in it is a sign. Well, he
must have been disturbed in his mind to leave a pipe behind him which he
evidently values highly.