Read the Lost Sherlock Holmes Story That Was Just Discovered in an Attic in Scotland


In Novem­ber, we pre­sent­ed for you a quick way to down­load The Com­plete Sher­lock Holmes — not know­ing that, a few months lat­er, a lost Sher­lock Holmes sto­ry, seem­ing­ly attrib­uted to Arthur Conan Doyle, would be dis­cov­ered in an attic in Scot­land.

The sto­ry, The Guardian writes, was “part of a pam­phlet print­ed in 1903 to raise mon­ey to restore a bridge in the Scot­tish bor­der town of Selkirk.” Dis­cov­ered by the his­to­ri­an Wal­ter Elliot, the tale enti­tled “Sher­lock Holmes: Dis­cov­er­ing the Bor­der Burghs and, By Deduc­tion, the Brig Bazaar” can be read below, thanks to Vul­ture.

In 2013, a US judge ruled that Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries now belonged in the pub­lic domain. The same would appear to hold true for this hap­pi­ly dis­cov­ered, 1300-word sto­ry. You can find more Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries in our col­lec­tion of Free eBooks.

“Sher­lock Holmes: Dis­cov­er­ing the Bor­der Burghs and, By Deduc­tion, the Brig Bazaar”

We’ve had enough of old roman­cists and the men of trav­el” said the Edi­tor, as he blue-pen­cilled his copy, and made arrange­ments for the great Sat­ur­day edi­tion of the Bazaar Book. “We want some­thing up-to-date. Why not have a word from ‘Sher­lock Holmes?’ ”

Edi­tors have only to speak and it is done, at least, they think so. “Sher­lock Holmes!” As well talk of inter­view­ing the Man in the Moon. But it does not do to tell Edi­tors all that you think. I had no objec­tions what­ev­er, I assured the Edi­tor, to but­ton­hole “Sher­lock Holmes,” but to do so I should have to go to Lon­don.

“Lon­don!” scorn­ful­ly sniffed the Great Man. “And you pro­fess to be a jour­nal­ist? Have you nev­er heard of the tele­graph, the tele­phone, or the phono­grah? Go to Lon­don! And are you not aware that all jour­nal­ists are sup­posed to be qual­i­fied mem­bers of the Insti­tute of Fic­tion, and to be qual­i­fied to make use of the Fac­ul­ty of Imag­i­na­tion? By the use of the lat­ter men have been inter­viewed, who were hun­dreds of miles away; some have been ‘inter­viewed’ with­out either knowl­edge or con­sent. See that you have a top­i­cal arti­cle ready for the press for Sat­ur­day. Good day.”

I was dis­missed and had to find copy by hook or by crook. Well, the Fac­ul­ty of Imag­i­na­tion might be worth a tri­al.

The famil­iar house in Sloan Street met my bewil­dered gaze. The door was shut, the blinds drawn. I entered; doors are no bar­ri­er to one who uses the Fac­ul­ty of Imag­i­na­tion. The soft light from an elec­tric bulb flood­ed the room. “Sher­lock Holmes” sits by the side of the table; Dr Wat­son is on his feet about to leave for the night. Sher­lock Holmes, as has late­ly been shown by a promi­nent jour­nal, is a pro­nounced Free Trad­er. Dr. Wat­son is a mild Pro­tec­tion­ist, who would take his gru­elling behind a Martel­lo tow­er, as Lord Goschen wit­ti­ly put it, but not “lying down!” The twain had just fin­ished a stiff argu­ment on Fis­cal pol­i­cy. Holmes loq—

“And when shall I see you again, Wat­son? The inquiry into the ‘Mys­ter­ies of the Secret Cab­i­net’ will be con­tin­ued in Edin­burgh on Sat­ur­day. Do you mind a run down to Scot­land? You would get some cap­i­tal data which you might turn to good account lat­er.”

“I am very sor­ry,” replied Dr Wat­son, “I should have liked to have gone with you, but a pri­or engage­ment pre­vents me. I will, how­ev­er, have the plea­sure of being in kind­ly Scot­tish com­pa­ny that day. I, also, am going to Scot­land.”

“Ah! Then you are going to the Bor­der coun­try at that time?”

“How do you know that?”

“My dear Wat­son, it’s all a mat­ter of deduc­tion.”

“Will you explain?”

“Well, when a man becomes absorbed in a cer­tain theme, the mur­der will out some day. In many dis­cus­sions you and I have on the fis­cal ques­tion from time to time I have not failed to notice that you have tak­en up an atti­tude antag­o­nis­tic to a cer­tain school of thought, and on sev­er­al occa­sions you have com­ment­ed on the pass­ing of “so-called’ reforms, as you describe them, which you say were not the result of a spon­ta­neous move­ment from or by the peo­ple, but sole­ly due to the pres­sure of the Man­ches­ter School of politi­cians appeal­ing to the mob. One of these allu­sions you made a pecu­liar ref­er­ence to ‘Huz an’ Main­ches­ter’ who had ‘turned the world upside down.’ The word ‘Huz’ stuck to me, but after con­sult­ing many authors with­out learn­ing any­thing as to the source of the word, I one day in read­ing a provin­cial paper noticed the same expres­sion, which the writer said was descrip­tive of the way Haw­ick peo­ple looked at the progress of Reform. ‘Huz an’ Main­ches­ter’ led the way. So, thought I, Wat­son has a knowl­edge of Haw­ick. I was still fur­ther con­firmed in this idea by hear­ing you in sev­er­al absent moments croon­ing a weird song of the Nor­we­gian God Thor. Again I made enquires, and writ­ing to a friend in the South coun­try I pro­cured a copy of ‘Teribus.’ So, I rea­soned, so — there’s some­thing in the air! What attrac­tion has Haw­ick for Wat­son?”

“Won­der­ful,” Wat­son said, “and —”

“Yes, and when you char­ac­terised the action of the Ger­man Gov­ern­ment in seek­ing to ham­per Cana­di­an trade by rais­ing her tar­iff wall against her, as a case of ‘Sour Plums,’ and again in a draw­ing room asked a mutu­al lady friend to sing you that fine old song, ‘Braw, braw lads,’ I was curi­ous enough to look up the old bal­lad, and find­ing it had ref­er­ence to a small town near to Haw­ick, I began to see a ray of day­light. Haw­ick had a place in your mind; like­wise so had Galashiels — so much was appar­ent. The ques­tion to be decid­ed was why?”

“So far so good. And—”

“Lat­er still the plot deep­ened. Why, when I was retail­ing to you the steps that led up to the arrest of the Nor­wood builder by the impres­sion of his thumb, I found a very great sur­prise that you were not lis­ten­ing at all to my rea­son­ing, but were lilt­ing a very sweet — a very sweet tune, Wat­son — ‘The Flow­ers of the For­est;’ then I in turn con­sult­ed an author­i­ty on the sub­ject, and found that that love­ly if trag­ic song had a spe­cial ref­er­ence to Selkirk. And you remem­ber, Wat­son, how very enthu­si­as­tic you grew all of a sud­den on the sub­ject of Com­mon-Rid­ings, and how much you stud­ied the his­to­ry of James IV., with spe­cial ref­er­ence to Flod­den Field. All these things speak, Wat­son, to the order­ly brain of a thinker. Haw­ick, Galashiels, and Selkirk. What did the com­bi­na­tion mean? I felt I must solve the prob­lem, Wat­son; so that night when you left me, after we had dis­cussed the “Tragedy of a Divid­ed House,” I ordered in a ton of tobac­co, wrapped my cloak about me, and spent the night in thought. When you came round in the morn­ing the prob­lem was solved. I could not on the accu­mu­la­tive evi­dence but come to the con­clu­sion that you con­tem­plat­ed anoth­er Par­lia­men­tary con­test. Wat­son, you have the Bor­der Burghs in your eye!”

“In my heart, Holmes,” said Wat­son.

“And where do you trav­el to on Sat­ur­day, Wat­son?”

“I am going to Selkirk; I have an engage­ment there to open a Bazaar.”

“Is it in aide of a Bridge, Wat­son?”

“Yes,’ replied Wat­son in sur­prise; “but how do you know? I have nev­er men­tioned the mat­ter to you.”

“By word, no; but by your action you have revealed the bent of your mind.”


“Let me explain. A week ago you came round to my rooms and asked for a look at ‘Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome.’ (You know I admire Macaulay’s works, and have a full set.) That vol­ume, after a casu­al look at, you took with you. When you returned it a day or two lat­er I noticed it was marked with a slip of paper at the ‘Lay of Hor­atius,’ and I detect­ed a faint pen­cil mark on the slip not­ing that the clos­ing stan­za was very appro­pri­ate. As you know, Wat­son, the lay is all descrip­tive of the keep­ing of a bridge. Let me remind you how nice­ly you would per­orate —

When the good­man mends his armour
And trims his hel­met’s plume,
When the good­wife’s shut­tle mer­ri­ly
Goes flash­ing through the loom,
With weep­ing and with laugh­ter.
Still the sto­ry told —
How well Hor­atius kept the bridge,
In the brave days of old.

Could I, being mor­tal, help think­ing you were bent on some such exploit your­self?”

“Very true!”

“Well, good­bye, Wat­son; shall be glad of your com­pa­ny after Sat­ur­day. Remem­ber Hor­atius’ words when you go to Bor­der Burghs: ‘How can man die bet­ter than fac­ing fear­ful odds.’ But there, these words are only illus­tra­tions. Safe jour­ney, and suc­cess to the Brig!”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load the Com­plete Sher­lock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mas­ter­piece

Arthur Conan Doyle Dis­cuss­es Sher­lock Holmes and Psy­chics in a Rare Filmed Inter­view (1927)

Hear the Voice of Arthur Conan Doyle After His Death

800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices

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