On This Day 28th January

Sydney Paget 1860 – 1908

OTD RIP Sydney Paget, extraordinary illustrator who is ersponsible for how we “see” Holmes.  Died in 1908 after many outstanding works. Sidney Edward Paget (4 October 1860 – 28 January 1908) was a British illustrator of the Victorian era, best known for his illustrations that accompanied Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand Magazine.

Mary Louise Conan Doyle 189 1976

OTD 1889 Birth of ACD’s daughter Mary Louise Conan Doyle aka Toots (28 january 1889 – 12 june 1976) was the daughter and first child of Arthur Conan Doyle and Louisa Hawkins. She had a direct younger brother Kingsley and 3 half-siblings Denis, Adrian and Jean (Lena) from the second marriage of her father.

‘The Second Stain’ appeared in Collier’s OTD 1905.



Plot summary (spoiler)

Lord Bellinger, a former prime minister, and Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs, show up at Baker Street about a case they want neither the police nor the public to be aware of. A critically important letter from a foreign potentate, which Hope had been keeping in his personal safe, has disappeared. Holmes knows of three international secret agents who would be interested in obtaining this document: Oberstein, La Rothière and Eduardo Lucas. He therefore intends to question them, but learns that Lucas has been murdered in his home. Meanwhile, Lady Hilda, Hope’s wife, visits Holmes and begs him to reveal to her the contents of the letter. Holmes, who promised to the officials that he would keep the secret, refuses , which leaves Lady Hilda desperate.

A few days later, the press reveals that Lucas lead a double life and shared his time between London and Paris, where he was called Henri Fournaye and was married to a very jealous woman. She’d been seen around Lucas’s home the night he was murdered and is naturally suspected.

Lestrade asks Holmes to come to Lucas’s home to see something that puzzles the inspector: The blood stain on the carpet and the one on the floor don’t match. The carpet has then been turned round after the murder, which, Holmes points out, means the constable must have let someone came in the house. While Lestrade interviews the constable, Holmes inspects the floor and finds an empty box in a cavity under the floor. He returns it to its hiding place before Lestrade reenters the room with the constable, who confesses that he left a young woman alone a little while in the room.

Holmes then go and see Lady Hilda and enjoins her to hand the stolen letter over to him. She bursts into tears and explains that Lucas was blackmailing her and demanded she gives him the letter he knew Hope was hiding. Owning a key to the safe, she complied, but saw where the scoundrel hid the letter. When she heard he had been murdered, she rushed to Lucas’s house and tricked the constable in order to get the document back.

Holmes helps Lady Hilda by replacing the letter and convincing Hope that it never actually left the safe.

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