Short summary - The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual - Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle


In an old castle belonging to one of the oldest families in England, servants disappear. His master turns to Sherlock Holmes for help, and he finds a treasure hidden in the castle.

Detective Sherlock Holmes is addressed to his college friend Reginald Meisgrave, the offspring of one of the most ancient families of the kingdom.

Reginald lives in an old castle, which is extremely stupidly built, and needs to be looked after. In addition, he owns a reserve for hunting and therefore holds a solid staff of servants. For the longest time, about twenty years, he has been served by the butler Brighton, an unusually attractive and versatile man. After the death of his wife, he began to cause trouble with his adventures. Having turned around with one of the maids named Rechel, he seemed to calm down, but suddenly got carried away by another. From experiences, Rechel became ill.

A few days ago, Reginald could not fall asleep and went down to the library at night to get a book. There, he was surprised to see Brighton studying the Masegraves family documents. Outraged, Reginald fired him. The butler begged not to drive him away in front of the maids and let him work for another month, but received only a week.

For two days, Brighton performed his duties as if nothing had happened, but on the third day he disappeared. Rechel, who after the illness was like a shadow, set to work. Although Reginald told her that she should still get stronger, the girl did not agree. At his request to tell Brighton to go to the owner, Rechel replied that the butler was gone and began to laugh hysterically. Frightened by a fit, the servants took the girl to her room. Nobody knew anything about Brighton, his bed was untouched, which means he left at night and disappeared without a trace. The police found no trace.

For two days, Rachel was raving, then rolling tantrums, had to hire her a nurse. Seeing that the patient fell asleep, the nurse also decided to sleep. Waking up, she saw that the girl had disappeared. Traces led to the pond. After searching the pond, they found a bag with pieces of rusty metal and shattered glass. Neither Rachel nor Brighton could be found out; the police were at a standstill. Reginald relied only on Sherlock Holmes.

The detective first wants to look at the document that Brighton was studying. This was a description of the ritual to which every man of the Meisgraves clan has come of age since the seventeenth century. The questions and answers in the ritual were in strict order.

Whose was it?'

'His who is gone.'

'Who shall have it?'

'He who will come.'

('What was the month?'

'The sixth from the first.')

'Where was the sun?'

'Over the oak.'

'Where was the shadow?'

'Under the elm.'

'How was it stepped?'

'North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.'

'What shall we give for it?'

'All that is ours.'

'Why should we give it?'

'For the sake of the trust.

Holmes comes to the conclusion that this ritual is fraught with meaning, and the butler, who saw this document earlier, turned out to be more penetrating than many generations of his masters and decided to solve this riddle.

Holmes finds an oak on the estate, but there is no elm; it has long been cut down. Reginald, being a schoolboy, solved mathematical problems, measured all the trees and remembered the height of the elm. Then he recalls that the butler also asked him this question. Holmes calculates the place where the elm's shadow should have fallen, and sees that a small hole has been dug there, therefore, he follows the tracks of Brighton. Counting the steps from this point, Holmes comes to the doorstep of the house and, together with Reginald, goes down to the basement.

The firewood in the basement is spread apart. In the empty spot, a heavy plate is visible, to the iron ring of which is tied a scarf, recognized by Reginald as a Brighton scarf. With the help of cops, the plate is pushed back, in the black pit under it they find an old, mold-eaten chest, in which several old coins are lying. Near the chest sits Brighton. His face turned blue and distorted beyond recognition.

Holmes is trying to restore the chain of events. Brighton was a man of extraordinary intelligence. He guessed that the rite indicates something valuable. He alone could not cope with the task, so he took an assistant. It was difficult to deal with an outsider, and he decided to find an accomplice in the house. It was most convenient to turn to Rachel, reminding her of her former love. Having propped up a log, they went down to the basement. It is difficult to say what happened there: either the log fell and walled up Brighton, or Rachel decided to avenge infidelity and walled up the butler - one can only guess. Now her tantrums and seizures became clear.

Having collected pieces of iron caught in a pond, Holmes sees that this is the crown of Charles the First. One of Reginald's ancestors held a prominent post at the court of the executed monarch. Most likely, the crown was entrusted to him, intending to return after her. The ancestor preserved the crown, but did not tell his descendants the essence of the document.

Now the crown is stored in the house of the Grays. They will show it with pleasure, only visitors should name the great detective.