To Sherlock Holmes, the young man John Openshaw appeals for help. John’s father invented extra strong tires for bicycles and a well-off person retired to rest. His brother Elias emigrated to America, bought a plantation in Florida, fought during the civil war on the side of the southerners, and then returned with decent capital to England, where he rented a small estate. He led a solitary lifestyle, was a tough and quick-tempered man, drank heavily. He put John in his place and made him the sovereign master of the house. John was only allowed to enter the room in the attic, where old chests and knots were kept.
Once an uncle who never received letters received a message from India. From the envelope on which was written “KK K”, five dry orange grains fell out. My uncle grew gray with fear and said that this is a payment for his sins, and now death awaits him. Soon, my uncle burned some papers and made a will, in which he left everything to his brother, Father
John. To John, he punished: if he can not live peacefully, then let him give everything he has to his bitter enemy. After this incident, my uncle did not part with the revolver, drank even more and was mortally afraid of some kind of danger. One night he was found dead in the pond. There were no signs of violence on the body, and the police found it suicidal. Knowing how his uncle feared death, John did not believe it. Seven weeks passed between the receipt of the letter and the death of my uncle.
The owner of the estate was John’s father. First, he examined the attic, but found only a casket with three letters “K” and nothing meaningful about the service of his uncle in the army. Soon my father also received an envelope with the letters “K” and five grains of orange. The letter required that he put his uncle’s paper on a sundial. The father refused to address the police, saying that he lives in a civilized country and will not pay attention to such nonsense. The next day he went to visit a friend. John was even glad that his father was away from home, safe, but his father fell
into one of the chalk quarries in that area and crashed. The police came to the conclusion that it was an accident. John did not believe this and thought that his father’s death was connected with his uncle’s past.
Two years passed, and now John himself received the same letter from London. Since the police believe that these letters are someone’s joke, John turns to the great detective for help. He shows an old faded leaf that the uncle did not burn. On it are written the names of several people who received orange grains and died. This is the only paper that can interest unknown assassins. Holmes advises putting her on a sundial and attaching a note to her with the message that the rest of the paper was burned.
The great detective thinks about the situation. Clearly, Uncle John Openshaw had serious reasons to leave America, as he led a solitary lifestyle and was constantly afraid of something. While studying the letters, Holmes comes to the conclusion that they are all sent from the ocean ports. And if you take into account the time between receipt of the letter and death, then, most likely, the writer was on a sailing ship. And this is not one, but several people. KK is the Ku Klux Klan society. Most likely, the uncle, who fought on the side of the southerners, belonged to this society, and now they hunt for the papers that he burned.
The next day in the newspaper appears a note about the death of John Openshaw. From old magazines, Holmes discovers which ships departed from Pondicherry to London. His attention is attracted by a sailing vessel called “Lonely Star”: this is the second name of Texas State, and the ship is now in London. His captain and two sailors are Americans. Embedding in the envelope five grains of orange, the great detective sends a letter to his captain with the inscription “Sh. H. H. for DO”, counting at least on a sleepless night for the addressee, and is going to inform the police.
The plans of the great detective were not destined to come true: in the Atlantic the ship crashed.