Short summary - The Adventure of the Speckled Band - Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle


A stepfather kills one of his stepdaughters by launching a deadly poisonous snake in the girl’s bedroom. Sherlock Holmes saves the second stepdaughter and punishes the killer.

Sherlock Holmes is being asked for help by a young woman trembling in terror, named Ellen Stoner.

Ellen's father served in India as a major artillery general. He died, leaving a decent condition. When the girl and her twin sister Julia were two years old, her mother married Dr. Grimsby Roylotte, the offspring of one of England's richest families. One of his relatives lost his fortune, and Roylotte himself had to earn a living. The girls' mother died in a train accident. According to her will, all the money was transferred to her husband, but if her daughters marry, a certain part should be allocated to each. The family returned to England and settled near London at the Royalties estate.

Roylotte is a very cruel and hot-tempered man with tremendous physical strength. He does not communicate with neighbors, but is friends with gypsies who have spread their camp on the estate. He brought animals from India, and a baboon and a cheetah walk around the estate.

Two years ago, Julia proposed a retired major. The stepfather did not mind the stepdaughter's marriage. Two weeks before the wedding, Julia came to Ellen's room before going to bed. Julia’s bedroom was located between the bedrooms of her sister and stepfather, and the windows of all three rooms overlooked the lawn, where a gypsy camp spread. Julia complained that someone whistles at night, she hears an iron clang, and the smell of strong cigars that her stepfather smokes prevents her from sleeping.

At night, the girls always locked the door with a key, as they were afraid of animals. There was a terrible cry that night. Jumping out into the corridor, Ellen saw her sister in a nightgown, white with horror. Julia staggered like a drunk, then fell, writhing in pain and cramps. She tried to show something, shouting at the same time: "Colored tape." The arriving doctor could not save her, Julia died. Having studied the circumstances of death, the police came to the conclusion that the girl died from a nervous shock, since no one could get into her room, locked and locked with windows. No poison was found either.

Now, Ellen met the man who made her an offer. The stepfather did not mind the marriage, but he started repairs in the house, and Ellen had to move to the room of her late sister. At night, the girl heard a strange whistle and an iron clang, which were a harbinger of the death of Julia. She asks the great detective for help. Sherlock Holmes promises to come in the evening on the estate of Roylotte and to study the situation.

Soon after the visitor left, Grimsby Roylotte himself visited the apartment on Baker Street. He tracked down his stepdaughter and threatens the great detective.

Sherlock Holmes makes inquiries and finds out that the marriage of girls is very unprofitable for Roylotte: his income will decrease significantly.

After inspecting the estate, Sherlock Holmes concludes that the repair was not needed. He was engaged in order to force Ellen to move to his sister's room. In Julia's room, he is interested in a long cord from a malfunctioning call hanging above the bed, and the bed itself, screwed to the floor. The cord is tied to a small ventilation hole that does not go outside, but into the next room where Roylotte lives. In the room of Dr. Holmes he finds an iron fireproof cupboard, in which, according to Ellen, business papers, a whip tied with a noose and a small plate with milk are stored.

The great detective intends to spend the night in Ellen’s room, removing the girl to a safe place. He is going to prevent the refined and terrible crime that a doctor commits, a man with steel nerves.

In the middle of the night, a gentle whistle is heard, and Holmes begins to violently beat his cane on the cord. There is a terrible scream. Holmes and Watson rush into Roylotte's room. The door of the fireproof closet is open, Roylott is sitting on a chair in a housecoat, on his lap lies a whip, and a colorful ribbon surrounds his head. The doctor is dead. Suddenly the ribbon moves and the head of a poisonous snake, a swamp Indian viper, is shown. Holmes throws a whip at her and locked in the closet.

Having discovered a fake bell and a screwed bed, the great detective realized that the cord serves as a bridge connecting the fan to the bed. And at the sight of a whip and a saucer of milk, Holmes got the idea of a snake. Having lived in India for many years, Roylott found poison that cannot be detected, and the investigator must have very sharp eyesight to see tiny traces of viper teeth.

Teasing a snake with his cane, Holmes made her attack the master. The great detective is indirectly guilty of the death of Grimsby Roylotte, but it cannot be said that this death placed a heavy burden on his conscience.