Frank Connell, The Blue Carbuncle

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (BLUE) is a short story written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Strand Magazine in january 1892. This is the 9th Sherlock Holmes story. Collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.


As London prepares for Christmas, newspapers report the theft of a near-priceless gemstone, the “Blue Carbuncle”, from the hotel suite of the Countess of Morcar. The police arrest John Horner, a plumber with a criminal record who was in Countess’s room repairing a fireplace.

In Baker Street, Watson finds Holmes contemplating a battered old hat brought to him by Peterson, a commissionaire, who seeks Holmes’s help in returning the hat to its rightful owner, along with a Christmas goose. Both had been dropped in the street during a scuffle. Although the goose bears a tag with the name Henry Baker, there is little hope of finding an owner with such a common name. Peterson takes the goose home for dinner, and Holmes keeps the hat to study as an intellectual exercise.

Peterson returns excited, carrying the stolen gem, and reports that he found it in the goose’s crop (an error by Conan Doyle, as geese do not have a crop). Holmes closely studies the hat and its condition, deducing Henry Baker’s age, social standing, intellect, and domestic status. When Baker appears in response to advertisements that Holmes places in the London newspapers, Holmes offers him a new goose. Happily accepting the replacement bird, Baker declines to take away the original bird’s entrails, convincing Holmes that he knew nothing about the gem. He tells Holmes that he had purchased the goose at the Alpha Inn, a pub near the British Museum.

Holmes and Watson visit the pub, where the proprietor informs them that the bird was purchased from a Covent Garden dealer. The dealer there refuses to help, complaining of the pestering he has endured recently about geese purchased by the Alpha Inn. Holmes, realising that he is not the only one aware of the goose’s importance, tricks the irate man into revealing that the bird was supplied to him by its breeder, Mrs Oakshott of Brixton. A trip to Brixton proves unnecessary when the dealer’s other “pesterer” appears – James Ryder, head attendant at the hotel where the gem was stolen.

Back in Baker Street, Ryder admits that he and his accomplice, the Countess’s maid, had contrived to frame Horner, believing that his criminal past would make him an easy scapegoat. During a visit to his sister – Mrs Oakshott – Ryder had hit on the idea of feeding the gem to a goose she had promised him as a gift. Unfortunately, Ryder then took away the wrong bird, confusing his goose with another in the flock. By the time he realised his mistake, the other had already been sold.

Ryder sobs convulsively. Holmes takes pity on the man and allows him to flee, having concluded that he has been far too frightened by the episode to offend again. Also, it was the season of forgiveness. Horner can expect to be freed as the case against him must now collapse.




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