Study Guide

The Return of Sherlock Holmes The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

  • We jump forward a few years to 1897, in the winter.
  • Holmes wakes Watson up at night and drags him off to a crime scene.
  • We hope Watson has a decent benefits package, because his job really stinks sometimes.
  • They hop a train to Kent and on the way Holmes shows Watson a note he got from Hopkins.
  • There's been a weird murder in Kent, and Hopkins wants Holmes to come help.
  • Holmes then notes that all seven cases they've helped Hopkins on have probably been turned into stories by Watson.
  • He then criticizes Watson's story telling style and says it's not factual enough.
  • Watson tells him to shut up and write them himself if he wants.
  • Holmes promises to inflict, or give, a crime solving textbook to the world one day, but he's too busy and awesome to do it now.
  • The men finally arrive at the address; it's a super fancy house.
  • Hopkins explains that the case has already been solved.
  • Holmes doubts that since he wasn't the one to solve it.
  • Apparently, Sir Eustace Brackenstall, one of the richest guys in Kent, was murdered during a home invasion gone awry.
  • His wife, who was knocked out, told the cops all about it when she woke up and identified the murderers/burglars as the Randall gang, a father and two sons.
  • Holmes and Watson go to speak with Lady Brackenstall.
  • She's a pretty woman but is currently looking rough and beat up. She has a black eye and a bruise on her arm.
  • She dismisses the bruise on her arm as having nothing to do with the case and proceeds with her story.
  • She's originally from Australia and makes no secret of the fact that her husband was a jerk. She adds that she finds England oppressive and English marriage laws to be awful.
  • Historical Context Lesson! She's probably speaking about how difficult it was to get a divorce under English law at this time. Australia, part of the British Empire in the 1890s, had modified laws and women had more legal freedoms in Australia. Also, women there had more social freedoms as well since Australia was a lot like the American West in this era – it was much more rough and tumble than England itself. To read more about all this, check out the "Marriage" theme section and Lady Brackenstall's "Character Analysis."
  • Lady Brackenstall came upon the robbers that night, and they knocked her down and tied her to a chair.
  • Then Sir Eustace barged in on them, there was struggle, and Sir Eustace was killed with a poker to the head.
  • She fainted.
  • When she came to she saw that the robbers were drinking some wine and had loaded up some silverware and china. Then they left.
  • Her maid, Theresa Wright, found Lady Brackenstall, otherwise known as Mary Frasier, and the dead Sir Eustace.
  • Theresa called the cops.
  • Hopkins, Watson, and Holmes go to examine the murder scene and make note of some unusual details and the weird fact that the robbers didn't kill Mary as well.
  • Hopkins explains that Sir Eustace was a drunk and that there have been a few scandals about how he's abused his wife. He once threw a heavy pitcher at Theresa, and there are rumors that he killed his wife's dog.
  • Potential serial killer alert! This guy sounds like awful, so there's probably a lot of people who's want to bash him on the head.
  • Holmes notes a few weird aspects about the room, like the fact that the servant's bell cord has been cut and some details about the wine.
  • But nothing seems to disprove Lady Brackenstall's story.
  • Back in London, Holmes is agitated. He feels there's something wrong about the case, but he can't figure it out yet.
  • Holmes believes that only two wine glasses were drunk out of and that the third was just filled up for show. He also points out some other odd details that throw some doubt on Mary's story.
  • They return to the house and examine the room more closely.
  • Holmes deduces that a very tall and strong man cut the bell cord and used it to tie up Mary.
  • He finds some blood evidence too and determines that Mary was tied to the chair after her husband died, not before.
  • They go talk to Theresa again and she rails against Sir Eustace.
  • She describes how he wooed Mary and tricked her into marrying him.
  • Holmes and Watson try to challenge Mary's story, but she refuses to talk.
  • Theresa throws them out.
  • On their way out, they notice a hole in the frozen pond outside.
  • Back in London, Holmes does some digging and finds out that a Jack Crocker was the first officer on the boat on which Mary came to England from Australia. And Jack is currently in England.
  • Holmes lets Hopkins know that the burglars threw the stolen silver into the pond outside the house.
  • Hopkins yells at Holmes for complicating the whole case, because what sort of burglars throw away their loot?
  • But then Hopkins reasons it was a hiding place and feels better.
  • But then we learn that the Randall gang was arrested that morning in New York.
  • But Hopkins again says that some copycat thieves committed the crime at the Brackenstall's house.
  • After Hopkins leaves, Jack Crocker arrives.
  • Holmes tells him that he's willing to help him out if Jack tells the truth about the murder.
  • Jack agrees, if only to help Mary, and confesses all.
  • He had fallen in love with Mary on the voyage to England, and after he learned about how abusive Sir Eustace was, he came to see if he could help her at all.
  • Mary fell in love with him at this point too.
  • Jack came to see Mary that night.
  • Sir Eustace discovered them and rushed at Jack.
  • So Jack killed him in self-defense.
  • Then Theresa came up with the plan to lie about how Sir Eustace died to keep Jack out of jail.
  • Jack asks Holmes to help him keep Mary out of it, so she won't be tried as an accomplice.
  • But then Holmes says they can have the trial now, and he and Watson pronounce Jack not guilty.
  • Holmes says the crime was justifiable, and he tells Jack to disappear for a while and then come back and marry Mary.
  • Sherlock Holmes really runs an all inclusive detective agency here, complete with it's very own night court.

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