The Speckled Band by Conan Doyle

The Speckled Band by Conan Doyle

A girl named Helen Stoner asked Sherlock Holmes for help. She lived in an old estate near the village, along with her stepfather Dr. Grimesby Roylott who used to be a doctor when he lived in India. Two years ago she lost her sister Julia. She died two weeks before her wedding, under mysterious circumstances. Before his death, for several nights in the house she heard a strange whistling that very frightened her. The night Julie died, Helen had heard similar sounds. On her deathbed, Julia shouted : “It was a speckled band!” Now Helen temporarily moved to her sister’s room because her one is being repaired. At the first night Helen heard a strange whistling again and panicked.

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The Speckled Band by Conan Doyle

At the time of this story, I was still living at my friend Sherlock Holmes’s flat in Baker Street in London. Very early one morning, a young woman, dressed in black, came to see us. She looked tired and unhappy, and her face was very white.

‘I’m afraid! Afraid of death, Mr Holmes!’ she cried. ‘Please help me! I’m not thirty yet and look at my grey hair! I’m so afraid!’

‘Just sit down and tell us your story,’ said Holmes kindly.

The Speckled Band by Conan Doyle

‘My name is Helen Stoner,’ she began, ‘and I live with my stepfather, Dr Grimesby Roylott, near a village in the country. His family was once very rich, but they had no money when my stepfather was born. So he studied to be a doctor, and went out to India. He met and married my mother there, when my sister Julia and I were very young. Our father was dead, you see.’

‘Your mother had some money, perhaps?’ asked Sherlock Holmes.

‘Oh yes, mother had a lot of money, so my stepfather wasn’t poor any more.’

‘Tell me more about him, Miss Stoner,’ said Holmes.

‘Well, he’s a violent man. In India he once got angry with his Indian servant and killed him! He had to go to prison because of that, and then we all came back to England. Mother died in an accident eight years ago. So my stepfather got all her money, but if Julia or I marry, he must pay us 250 pounds every year.’

‘And now you live with him in the country,’ said Holmes.

‘Yes, but he stays at home and never sees anybody, Mr Holmes!’ answered Helen Stoner. ‘He’s more and more violent now, and sometimes has fights with the people from the village. Everybody’s afraid of him now, and they run away when they see him. And they’re also afraid of his Indian wild animals which run freely around the garden. A friend sends them to him from India. And the animals are not the only wild things in the garden; there are also gipsies. My stepfather likes these wild people, and they can come and go where they like. Poor Julia and I had very unhappy lives. We had no servants. They always left because they were afraid of my stepfather, and we had to do all the work in the house. Julia was only thirty when she died, and her hair was already grey, like my hair now.’

‘When did she die?’ asked Sherlock Holmes…

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