In the small town of Oldershote, where the military unit is quartered, Colonel James Barclay, a valiant veteran who began serving as an ordinary soldier, was killed and was promoted to officers for bravery. In his youth, he married the daughter of a sergeant of his regiment, Nancy. After living for thirty years, the couple were considered an exemplary couple. Colonel madly loved his wife, she treated him more evenly, they had no children. Mrs. Barclay enjoyed the location of regimental ladies, and her husband – colleagues.
Family Barclay with several servants occupies the villa, guests in which are infrequent. A few days ago, Mrs. Barclay, in a good mood, left with her friend Miss Morrison at a meeting of the charitable society in which she was. Returning home in a bad mood, she locked herself in the living room with her husband, and the servants heard her call him a coward and several times pronounced the name “David.” Suddenly, a terrible scream, a roar and
a cry from the hostess was heard. Since the inner door was locked, the servants rushed to the glass door leading to the garden, which, fortunately, was open. In the room on the sofa, the landlady lay unconscious, her husband was dead, his head was broken by some blunt instrument. Next to it was an unusual truncheon made of solid wood, which did not belong to the colonel. The police found that the murder was committed to her. Also the key to the door disappeared. The interrogation of Miss Morrison, with whom Mrs. Barclay was all this time, gave nothing. The girl did not know what could cause a quarrel between the spouses.
After studying all the details of the case, the police come to a standstill. Sherlock Holmes comes to the crime scene, who was interested in this case. He draws attention to the fact that the face of the deceased is distorted by fear. The key was not from the colonel, nor from his wife, therefore, there was a third person in the room, and he carried the key. The stranger could penetrate into the room only through the glass door. On the lawn there were traces of shoes, and on the portier there were
prints of the paws of a small animal that was with an unknown visitor. Having seen above a cage with a canary, the animal climbed up the curtain.
Having weighed the facts, Sherlock Holmes draws conclusions. Standing on the road, a man sees the wife of Barclay quarrel in a lit room with raised curtains. Running across the lawn, a stranger with a beast enters the room and strikes the colonel, or the colonel, frightened, falls and strikes his head against the fireplace. The stranger leaves and carries away the key.
Considering that Mrs. Barclay left the house in a good mood and returned upset, Sherlock Holmes suggests that Miss Morrison hides the truth. Frightened that Mrs. Barclay can be charged with murder, Mrs. Morrison says that on the way home they met a wandering hunchback, who turned out to be Mrs. Barclay’s old acquaintance. The woman asked Miss Morrison to leave them alone. After catching up with a friend, Mrs. Barclay said that this man was very unlucky in life, and asked no one to say anything.
Find a hunchback in a small military town, where civilians are little, not difficult. They are a wandering magician, a cripple named Henry Wood. Once he served in India in the same regiment with James Barclay and was considered the first handsome regiment. Both were in love with Nancy, and she loved Henry. Young people wanted to get married, but then a riot began in the country, and the regiment was siege. Henry volunteered to make his way to his, and James Barclay, who knew the terrain well, advised him the best way. Making his way, Henry was ambushed. From the conversation of the rebels, he learned that he had been betrayed by Barclay. Retreating, the rioters took Henry with them. After the torture he became a cripple. While traveling, Wood learned tricks and earned his living. In his old age, Henry was drawn to his homeland.
Encountering Nancy, who thought he was dead, he followed her and from the street saw her quarrel with her husband, throwing him in the face of accusations of betrayal. Henry could not restrain himself and rushed into the house. Seeing him, Colonel Barclay fell and hit the fireplace, and Nancy fainted. Taking the key from her hands, Henry wanted to call for help, but realized that he could be accused of murder. He in a hurry put the key in his pocket and wanted to leave, but his mongoose, the animal with which he shows tricks, climbed up the curtain. Trying to catch him, Henry forgot his stick.
The case is closed – according to the examination, death came from an apoplexy stroke. Dr. Watson, however, does not understand why Mrs. Barclay pronounced the name “David,” if the deceased was James, and the hunchback Henry. To which the great detective says that if he were the ideal logic as described by Watson, he would have guessed at what the matter was: the name was cast into reproach, in analogy with the biblical king David.