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The Man with the Twisted Lip
In this short story, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mr. Neville St. Clair has been kidnapped. His wife is in town one day and she sees him hanging outside of a window. As she looks up at him, he lets out a scream and is yanked back into the room from where he stands. She is very concerned about seeing her husband in this situation and thinks that he is in trouble. She runs to the entrance of the building that she saw him standing in and she tries to get upstairs to where he is and help him. She is stopped by the doorman and not allowed access to the upstairs.
Once the police get to the scene, they barge into the upstairs area and discover that Mr. Neville St. Clair is not in the room. The only person in the room is a beggar man named Hugh Boone. Everyone is familiar with Boone because he sits in the city and begs for a living. The police demand an explanation on where St. Clair is and there is not one given by Boone or the doorman. On the backside of the building there was a body of water that at high tide came up to the bottom of the lone window in the room.
Traces of blood were found on the window seal of this window and drops of blood on the floor. The clothing of St. Clair was found in the corner of the room and his coat was found in the water at the bottom of the window. The assumption was made that Boone killed St. Clair and the body was disposed of in the water. The police detained Boone but the body was not found. Sherlock Holmes was interested in finding the body.
Holmes, along with Watson, went to the St. Clair home and interviewed Mrs. St. Clair. Holmes admitted to Mrs. St. Clair that the he thought her husband might still be living. She agreed with great anticipation and told her that the most startling thing had happened to her that day. It was three days since the disappearance of her husband and she had received a letter dated AFTER her husband’s disappearance. Holmes asked to see the letter so he could examine it.
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The content of the letter was simple. Mr. St. Clair's short note assured his wife that he would be home and there was a mix up that needed correcting before he returned. Holmes and Watson decided to stay the night at the St. Clair home and head back for the crime scene in the morning. That night Holmes thought on the situation and started to make conclusions.
Upon their return to the city, Holmes and Watson went to the jail to speak with the beggar man Boone. When they got there, the chief told them that they were having the hardest time getting the beggar man to bathe. They had tried and tried to no avail. When Holmes and Watson looked at Boone they did not see a pretty sight. He was dirty from head to toe and he had a hideous looking scar on his face that made his lip curl up on the edge and expose his teeth. He also had a bad cut on his hand that was starting to heal. The chief commented that the beggar man had still not given any information on the disappearance of St. Clair.
Holmes looked upon the beggar for a while as the beggar slept and then did something interesting. He took a wet sponge and went and scrubbed the face of the beggar. The make-up and the plaster dissolved and the true identity of the beggar was revealed he in fact was St. Clair.
Holmes had surprised the chief and Watson. They had no idea that the beggar man was Neville St. Clair. As Holmes retraced his steps he commented that it was odd the coat of St. Clair had washed up on shore and not the body. He also commented that during his discussion with Mrs. St. Clair, he discovered that Mr. St. Clair had cut himself earlier that day on the hand. He then said that once he saw the letter with the dirty thumb print that was dated after the disappearance he knew that the evidence pointed more to the beggar and St. Clair having a closer relationship then expected.
St. Clair admitted that he had indeed been acting the role of Hugh Boone for many years now. He said that he went undercover as a beggar once in order to write an article on beggars and realized that a lot of money could be made. He started doing it all the time without his wife and kids being aware of it and made a lot more money. He explained that the reason he did not want his wife to see him was because he was ashamed. He said that she spotted him as he was changing back to his regular clothes and he knew she would have questions. He said that he told the doorman to hold her downstairs until he could put the full disguise back on and explain later, By then the police had gotten involved and it was to late to turn back.
Sherlock Holmes discovered the true reason that Neville St. Clair disappeared by using inductive reasoning. He used the clue of the letter, the blood and the cut to discover the true identity of Hugh Boone.