It was no very unusual thing for Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard,
To look in upon us of an evening, and his visits were welcome to
Sherlock Holmes, for they enabled him to keep in touch with all
That was going on at the police headquarters. In return for the
News which Lestrade would bring, Holmes was always ready to
Listen with attention to the details of any case upon which the
Detective was engaged, and was able occasionally, without any
Active interference, to give some hint or suggestion drawn from
His own vast knowledge and experience.
On this particular evening, Lestrade had spoken of the weather
And the newspapers. Then he had fallen silent, puffing
Thoughtfully at his cigar. Holmes looked keenly at him.
“Anything remarkable on hand?” he asked.
“Oh, no, Mr. Holmes – nothing very particular.”
“Then tell me about it.”
“Well, Mr. Holmes, there is no use denying that there IS
Something on my mind. And yet it is such an absurd business,
That I hesitated to bother you about it. On the other hand,
Although it is trivial, it is undoubtedly queer, and I know that
You have a taste for all that is out of the common. But, in my
Opinion, it comes more in Dr. Watson’s line than ours.”
“Disease?” said I.
“Madness, anyhow. And a queer madness, too. You wouldn’t think
There was anyone living at this time of day who had such a
Hatred of Napoleon the First that he would break any image of
Him that he could see.”
Holmes sank back in his chair.
“That’s no business of mine,” said he.
“Exactly. That’s what I said. But then, when the man commits
Burglary in order to break images which are not his own, that
Brings it away from the doctor and on to the policeman.”
sat up again.
“Burglary! This is more interesting. Let me hear the details.”
Lestrade took out his official notebook and refreshed his memory
From its pages.
“The first case reported was four days ago,” said he. “It was at
The shop of Morse Hudson, who has a place for the sale of
Pictures and statues in the Kennington Road. The assistant had
Left the front shop for an instant, when he heard a crash, and
Hurrying in he found a plaster bust of Napoleon, which stood
With several other works of art upon the counter, lying shivered
Into fragments. He rushed out into the road, but, although
Several passers-by declared that they had noticed a man run out
Of the shop, he could neither see anyone nor could he find any
Means of identifying the rascal. It seemed to be one of those
Senseless acts of Hooliganism which occur from time to time, and
It was reported to the constable on the beat as such. The
Plaster cast was not worth more than a few shillings, and the
Whole affair appeared to be too childish for any particular
“The second case, however, was more serious, and also more
Singular. It occurred only last night.
“In Kennington Road, and within a few hundred yards of Morse
Hudson’s shop, there lives a well-known medical practitioner,
Named Dr. Barnicot, who has one of the largest practices upon
The south side of the Thames. His residence and principal
Consulting-room is at Kennington Road, but he has a branch
Surgery and dispensary at Lower Brixton Road, two miles away.
This Dr. Barnicot is an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon, and
His house is full of books, pictures, and relics of the French
Emperor. Some little time ago he purchased from Morse Hudson two
Duplicate plaster casts of the famous head of Napoleon by the
French sculptor, Devine.