Sherlock Holmes in Simple English: The Blue Carbuncle Part 1

Uploaded by simplifiedenglish on 30.08.2011

The Blue Carbuncle.
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Retold in simplified English
by A L S tringer.
I went to visit my friend Sherlock Holmes two days after Christmas
and found him sitting on the sofa wearing a purple dressing-gown.
His pipe was on the coffee table
and a pile of newspapers was next to him.
Beside the sofa was a wooden chair
with a very dirty old hat hanging on the back.
His magnifying glass was lying nearby
and I guessed he’d been studying the hat.
‘You’re busy,’ I said;
‘perhaps I’m disturbing you.’
‘Not at all. I’m glad to have a friend to discuss this with,’ he said, looking
at the hat.
‘It’s not a very important case,
but there are some interesting points and we might learn something from it.’
I sat down in his chair and warmed my hands in front of the fire.
The weather was very cold and the windows were covered with ice.
‘I suppose that hat is a clue in some deadly crime that you’re trying to solve.’
‘No crime,’ said Sherlock Holmes, laughing.
‘Just one of those funny little incidents that happen in large cities,
where so many people live together in a small space.
Many problems are just strange without being criminal.’
‘That’s true,’ I agreed. ‘Our last case didn’t involve anyone breaking the
‘Exactly. You’re talking about the Irene Adler case.
Well, I’m sure this one will be the same.
Do you know Peterson, the security guard?’
‘Well, this prize belongs to him.’
‘You mean it’s his hat.’
‘Not exactly. He found it. We don’t know who it belongs to.
But please, don’t look at it as a dirty old hat.
It’s an intellectual problem. First, let me tell you how it got here.
It arrived on Christmas morning, with a good fat goose,
which is probably roasting in Peterson’s oven right now.
The facts are these: about four o’clock on Christmas morning,
Peterson, who is a very honest man, was walking home from a small party.
In front of him, in the street light,
he saw a tallish man carrying a white goose over his shoulder.
When they reached the end of the street,
an argument started between this tall stranger and a group of yobs.
One of these yobs knocked the man’s hat off.
He raised his stick to defend himself
and accidentally smashed the shop window behind him.
Peterson came forward to protect the stranger from his attackers.
However, the man was obviously worried about breaking the window.
He must have thought Peterson was a policeman as he was wearing his uniform,
so he dropped the goose and ran off down a side street.
The yobs also ran away and Peterson was left with this old hat
and a delicious-looking Christmas goose.’
‘Didn’t he give it back to its owner?’
‘My dear Watson, that’s the problem.
It’s true that there was a small card tied to the bird’s left leg
with, “For Mrs Henry Baker,” written on it;
and it’s also true that the initials “H. B.” can be seen inside this hat.
But as there are thousands of Bakers,
and hundreds of Henry Bakers in this city, it’s impossible to know which one.’
‘What did Peterson do?’
‘He brought both the hat and the goose round to me on Christmas morning,
as he knows I find even the smallest problems interesting.
We kept the goose until this morning, when there were signs that it should be eaten immediately.
Peterson has taken it home while I still have the hat of the unknown gentleman who lost
his Christmas dinner.’
‘And what are you going to do with it?’
‘I’m going to find the owner.’
‘How on earth are you going to do that?’
‘By seeing what I can deduce.’
‘From his hat?’
‘You’re joking. What can you learn from a dirty old hat?’
‘Here’s my magnifying glass. You know my methods.
But how about you, Watson? What can you tell about the owner from this hat?
I picked it up and turned it over.
It was an ordinary black hat but in very bad condition.
It was cracked and covered in dust, and there were dirty marks in several places.
Someone had tried to hide these by painting them with ink.
The inside was lined with red silk but it was very discoloured.
There was no maker’s name but, as Holmes had said, on one side there were the initials
“H. B.”.
I could also see that there had once been a loop to fix the hat to the head,
but the elastic was missing.
‘I can see nothing,’ I said, handing it back to my friend.
‘I disagree, Watson. You can see everything.
But you’re not thinking about what you see. You’re not making any deductions.’
‘Then please tell me what you can deduce from this hat?’
He picked it up and looked at it very carefully as he always did.
‘Some facts are fairly clear,’ he said,
‘and a few others are very likely if not certain.
For example, anyone can see that the owner is intelligent
and also that he’s been fairly rich within the last three years,
but he’s lost a lot of money recently.
He’s careful and likes to plan things, but less now than in the past.
Perhaps he’s drinking heavily. If you consider that he’s lost money, then that’s quite
It may also be the reason why his wife doesn’t love him any more.’
‘My dear Holmes!’
‘However, he still has some self-esteem,’ he continued.
‘He’s a man who doesn’t take exercise, isn’t very fit and goes out rarely.
He’s middle-aged, has curly hair and uses hair cream.
And he’s had his hair cut within the last few days.
These are the more obvious facts which we can tell from his hat.
Oh yes – one other thing, he probably doesn’t have gas lighting in his house.’
‘You must be joking, Holmes!’
‘Certainly not. Is it really possible that you can’t see how I know,
even though I’ve told you all this?’
‘I’m sure I’m very stupid, but I’m afraid I don’t follow.
For example, how did you deduce that this man was intelligent?’
Holmes put the hat on his head. It was too big and covered his eyes.
‘It’s simply a question of size,’ he said.
‘A man with such a large head must surely have something inside it.’
‘How about losing money?’
‘This hat is three years old. I can tell that by the style.
It’s a very good quality hat. Look at the silk lining.
The man could afford to buy an expensive hat three years ago,
but he hasn’t bought a new one since then.
Therefore, we can guess he has less money now than when he bought the hat.’
‘Well, that’s clear enough. But how about being careful and losing his self-esteem?’
Sherlock Holmes laughed. ‘This is why he is careful,’
he said pointing to the loop used to fix the hat to the head.
‘They never sell hats with loops. You have to order the loop specially.
If this man ordered one, it shows he had thought about the danger of losing his hat in the
But since it’s now broken and he hasn’t bothered to replace it,
we can guess he isn’t as careful now as he was before.
On the other hand, he’s tried to hide some of these stains with ink,
so he hasn’t completely lost his self-esteem.’
‘That is believable.’
‘As for the other points - that he’s middle-aged, that his hair is curly,
that it’s recently been cut, and that he uses hair cream
we can see all these by looking closely at the lining.
If you look through the magnifying glass,
you will see a lot of small hairs cut by the hairdresser’s scissors.
The hairs are grey, they are sticking to the hat and there’s a smell of hair cream.
You should also look carefully at the dust.
This is not the thick dust you find in the street,
it’s the fine dust you find in the house,
so clearly, the hat has been indoors most of the time.
And finally, these marks on the inside show that the owner sweats a lot,
so he can’t be very fit.
‘But his wife - you said that she didn’t love him anymore.’
‘This hat hasn’t been brushed for weeks.
If your hat was all dusty like this one,
and if your wife allowed you to go out in such a state,
I would fear that your wife didn’t love you either, Watson.’
‘But he might be a bachelor.’
‘No. He was bringing the goose home as a present for his wife.
Remember the card on the bird’s leg.’
‘You have an answer to everything.
But how on earth can you tell that he doesn’t have gas in his house?’
‘There are five candle stains on the hat.
Who would use a candle when they have gas?’
‘Well, it’s very clever,’ I said, laughing;
‘but as you said there hasn’t been a crime,
it all seems rather a waste of energy, doesn’t it?’
Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to reply,
when the door suddenly opened and Peterson, the security guard, rushed in
with a look of amazement on his face.
‘The goose, Mr Holmes! The goose, sir!’ he said in excitement.
‘What about it? Has it returned to life and flown away through the kitchen window?’
‘Look here, sir! Look what my wife found in its stomach!’
In his hand there was a brilliant blue stone about the size of a bean,
but so pure that it shone and twinkled like an electric spark.
Sherlock Holmes sat up straight. ‘My god, Peterson!’ he said, ‘Do you know what
it is?’
‘A diamond, sir? It cuts glass very easily.’
‘It’s more than a diamond. It is the diamond!’
‘Not Lady Morcar’s blue carbuncle!’ I said.
‘Exactly. The diamond that everyone is talking about.
I’ve read about it in the newspapers every day this week.
There’s no other stone like it in the world.
She’s offering a reward of a thousand pounds but it’s probably worth twenty times that.
‘A thousand pounds! My God!’ Peterson sat down heavily in a chair
and looked from one of us to the other.