Inspector Stanley Hopkins seeks help from Sherlock Holmes. He was at a loss when investigating the murder of Mr. Willoughby Smith. Smith was the secretary of Professor Coram, who lives in a country house. Corem – an old sick man, he is lying in bed, then hobbling with a wand around the house, then he is driven in a wheelchair in the garden. Recently, the professor decided that he needed a secretary. The first two did not fit, then he found Mr. Willoughby Smith, a young man who had just graduated from the university. The house is also home to the housekeeper, maid and gardener. Inhabitants of the house lead a closed way of life and do not leave the gate for weeks.
That day the professor lay in bed, and Smith worked in his room. Suddenly someone went into the office, from where a terrible scream soon followed. The servant came running and saw Smith lying on the floor, in whose carotid artery the knife for wax seals was put, which lay with the professor on the table. In the
hand, the dead man squeezed a golden pince-nez. Before his death, Smith muttered: “It was she.”
The great detective is studying his pince-nez. He comes to the conclusion that it belongs to a well-dressed, short-sighted woman with a thick fleshy nose and closely planted eyes.
Holmes arrives at the crime scene. Judging by the footprints, the woman walked through the park and entered the office along the corridor. There were no intentions to kill her, otherwise she would have taken with her some weapons. Judging by the scratches on the keyholes of the drawers of the table, the lady tried to open them. But then Smith noticed her, she broke away and killed Smith with a knife – the first thing that came to her arm. Then she had to walk down the corridor, which leads to the professor’s bedroom, because there is no other way.
The great detective talks with the professor, smoking cigarettes at the same time. The professor can not report anything about the murder. The great detective talks with the housekeeper, who says that the professor smokes a lot and, despite what has happened, he
has a wonderful appetite – he eats more than usual.
Holmes again returns to the professor, who offers him cigarettes. Taking the box, Holmes turns it over, and everyone collects cigarettes scattered on the floor.
The great detective reinstates the crime picture. A lady came into the professor’s office. She wanted to take the papers from the box, opening it with her own key. The secretary caught her, and she, while defending herself, stabbed him. Since during the fight, Smith took off her glasses, she was helpless, and instead of rushing out into the street, she came to the professor’s bedroom. Seeing the woman, the professor helped her to escape.
Holmes points to a tall closet in the corner of the room. He turns around his axis, and from it comes a woman, the wife of a professor. Spouses are Russian revolutionaries. They were arrested, and the professor betrayed his comrades. After taking the money, he went to England and settled in complete solitude. Among the members of the organization was a friend of a woman who was guilty without guilt. The papers confirming his innocence were with the professor. In order to steal these papers the woman arrived in England. Her acquaintance got a job as a secretary and helped to make the key to the box. The woman came into the house and met Willoughby Smith on the road. Therefore, his dying words were: “This is it!”. The professor hid his wife in a cache, because if he issues it to justice, she can extradite him to their organization. They decided that at night she would leave. The woman took out the documents and a vial of poison. Before Holmes stopped her, she drank the poison and asked to transfer the papers to the Russian embassy.
On the way to the embassy, the great detective explains the chain of his arguments. He realized that having lost such strong glasses, the woman became helpless, and on the street it would be immediately seized. Consequently, she is in the house, and she could only hide in the professor’s room. After examining the room, Holmes discovered a gap under the cupboard and realized that there was a hiding place. Smoking, Holmes poured ash on the floor and, having come later, was convinced that the captive had left the shelter, especially since the professor began to eat more than usual.