... "Mrs. Toller!" cried Miss Hunter. "Yes, miss. Mr. Rucastle let me out when he came back before he went up to you. Ah, miss, it is a pity you didn't let me know what you were planning, for I would have told you that your pains were ...
"Mrs. Toller!" cried Miss Hunter.
"Yes, miss. Mr. Rucastle let me out when he came back before
he went up to you. Ah, miss, it is a pity you didn't let me know
what you were planning, for I would have told you that your pains
"Ha!" said Holmes, looking keenly at her. "It is clear that Mrs.
Toller knows more about this matter than anyone else."
"Yes, sir, I do, and I am ready enough to tell what I know."
"Then, pray, sit down, and let us hear it for there are several
points on which I must confess that I am still in the dark."
"I will soon make it clear to you," said she; "and I'd have done
so before now if I could ha' got out from the cellar. If there's
police-court business over this, you'll remember that I was the one
that stood your friend, and that I was Miss Alice's friend too.
"She was never happy at home, Miss Alice wasn't, from the time
that her father married again. She was slighted like and had no say
in anything, but it never really became bad for her until after she
met Mr. Fowler at a friend's house. As well as I could learn, Miss
Alice had rights of her own by will, but she was so quiet and
patient, she was, that she never said a word about them but just left
everything in Mr. Rucastle's hands. He knew he was safe with her;
but when there was a chance of a husband coming forward, who
would ask for all that the law would give him, then her father
thought it time to put a stop on it. He wanted her to sign a paper, so
that whether she married or not, he could use her money. When she
wouldn't do it, he kept on worrying her until she got brain-fever,
and for six weeks was at death's door. Then she got better at last,
all worn to a shadow, and with her beautiful hair cut off; but that
didn't make no change in her young man, and he stuck to her as
true as man could be."
"Ah," said Holmes, "I think that what you have been good
enough to tell us makes the matter fairly clear, and that I can
deduce all that remains. Mr. Rucastle then, I presume, took to this
system of imprisonment?"
"And brought Miss Hunter down from London in order to get rid
of the disagreeable persistence of Mr. Fowler."
"That was it, sir."
"But Mr. Fowler being a persevering man, as a good seaman
should be, blockaded the house, and having met you succeeded by
certain arguments, metallic or otherwise, in convincing you that
your interests were the same as his."
"Mr. Fowler was a very kind-spoken, free-handed gentleman,"
said Mrs. Toller serenely.
"And in this way he managed that your good man should have
no want of drink, and that a ladder should be ready at the moment
when your master had gone out."
"You have it, sir, just as it happened."
"I am sure we owe you an apology, Mrs. Toller," said Holmes,
"for you have certainly cleared up everything which puzzled us.
And here comes the country surgeon and Mrs. Rucastle, so I think.
Watson, that we had best escort Miss Hunter back to Winchester,
as it seems to me that our locus standi now is rather a questionable
And thus was solved the mystery of the sinister house with the
copper beeches in front of the door. Mr. Rucastle survived, but was
always a broken man, kept alive solely through the care of his
devoted wife. They still live with their old servants, who probably
know so mUch of Rucastle's past life that he finds it difficult to
part from them. Mr. Fowler and Miss Rucastle were married, by
special license, in Southampton the day after their flight, and he is
now the holder of a government appointment in the island of
Mauritius. As to Miss Violet Hunter, my friend Holmes, rather to
my disappointment, manifested no further interest in her when
once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems, and
she is now the head of a private school at Walsall, where I believe
that she has met with considerable success.