After a serious investigation, the great detective Sherlock Holmes needs rest, and Dr. Watson brings a friend to the estate of his patient Colonel Heather near Reiget.
On the day of arrival, it turns out that the local squire Mr. Acton was robbed. Thieves rummaged through the library, took a volume of Homer, a couple of candlesticks, a tangle of twine. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Watson, the great detective does not show interest in this matter, but at night the coachman of the magistrate Cunningham, William, is shot in the heart. Learning that in Reigate is Sherlock Holmes, the police inspector appeals to him for help.
The great detective goes to work. Mr. Acton and Cunningham have been litigating for many years, and their estates are the largest in the district. In the evening before the murder, Mr. Cunningham went to bed, and his son Alec was still on board. They heard William calling for help, and Mr. Alec ran downstairs. At the open door he saw two men fighting. The killer shot at William and disappeared, the coachman fell dead. Mr. Cunningham saw the criminal from the window, and Alec lingered next to William and could not rush to the killer.
William lived in the lodge. Frightened of the theft of Mr. Acton, he went to the house to check whether everything was safe. In his hand he was clamped a piece of a note with the words: “at a quarter to twelve you will find out what you can…”.
Holmes examines the note and investigates
Near the Cunningham home Sherlock Holmes faints. He is transferred to the house where he continues the investigation. Mr. Cunningham was still awake, and his son was smoking in a room with a lighted lamp, yet a criminal who had only committed the theft invaded the house, breaking the door. Given that the set of stolen things is very strange, the great detective proposes to write an advertisement in which he appoints a reward for the capture of such an unusual criminal. Mr. Cunningham, he proposes to enter the amount of remuneration.
A great detective goes around the house. In one of the rooms, Holmes overturns a table with a water decanter and a fruit bowl. Suddenly he blames Dr. Watson for what happened. While the surprised present gather fruit, Holmes disappears. Alec Cunningham, along with his father, go to find him, and soon the cries of the great detective he calls for help. Those who rush to help see how Mr. Cunningham twists Holmes’s brush, and Alec strangles him. The great detective advises the police inspector to arrest them on charges of killing William’s coachman and shows a note.
In the presence of Mr. Acton, Dr. Watson and Colonel Heather, Sherlock Holmes gives an explanation. If Alec Cunningham’s story is true, and the killer after the shot rushed to run, then he could not snatch the note out of the coachman’s hand. Consequently, Alec did this, and he could only put it in the pocket of his robe. Turning the table over, Holmes distracted his attention and pulled out a note from the pocket of his robe.
If you look carefully at the note, you can see that it was written by two different people. The time of the meeting was written with a firmer hand, and there is a certain similarity between the handwriting. Holmes suggested that the note wrote the Cunningham, and was convinced of this, having received a sample of his father’s handwriting. After examining the body of the murdered man, he came to the conclusion that the shot was taken from a distance of several meters. Having examined the place around the manor, Holmes did not see any trace of the escaped killer. Considering that the Cunningham have been engaged in litigation with Mr. Acton for many years, the great detective assumes that they committed the theft. Not finding the right document, they took what was on their hands to ward off suspicion. The coachman William saw this and began to blackmail the owners. They trapped him and killed him.
Now the great detective can safely return home to Baker Street, because his vacation in the village was a success.