The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter (The Return of Sherlock Holmes, #11)

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Charles Altamont Doyle, a talented illustrator, was born in England of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. They were married in 1855.

Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname (if that is how he meant it to be understood) is uncertain. His baptism record in the registry of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh gives 'Arthur Ignatius Conan' as his Christian name, and simply 'Doyle' as his surname. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather.

At the age of nine Conan Doyle was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school, Hodder Place, Stonyhurst. He then went on to Stonyhurst College, leaving in 1875.

From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. This required that he provide periodic medical assistance in the towns of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and Sheffield. While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories. His first published story appeared in "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal" before he was 20. Following his graduation, he was employed as a ship's doctor on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his doctorate on the subject of tabes dorsalis in 1885.

In 1885 Conan Doyle married Louisa (or Louise) Hawkins, known as "Touie". She suffered from tuberculosis and died on 4 July 1906. The following year he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie, whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897. Due to his sense of loyalty he had maintained a purely platonic relationship with Jean while his first wife was alive. Jean died in London on 27 June 1940.

Conan Doyle fathered five children. Two with his first wife—Mary Louise (28 January 1889 – 12 June 1976), and Arthur Alleyne Kingsley, known as Kingsley (15 November 1892 – 28 October 1918). With his second wife he had three children—Denis Percy Stewart (17 March 1909 – 9 March 1955), second husband in 1936 of Georgian Princess Nina Mdivani (circa 1910 – 19 February 1987; former sister-in-law of Barbara Hutton); Adrian Malcolm (19 November 1910–3 June 1970) and Jean Lena Annette (21 December 1912–18 November 1997).

Conan Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He had died of a heart attack at age 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard at Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire, reads:

STEEL TRUE
BLADE STRAIGHT
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
KNIGHT
PATRIOT, PHYSICIAN & MAN OF LETTERS

Conan Doyle's house, Undershaw, located in Hindhead, south of London, where he had lived for a decade, had been a hotel and restaurant between 1924 and 2004. It now stands empty while conservationists and Conan Doyle fans fight to preserve it.

A statue honours Conan Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where Conan Doyle lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Conan Doyle was born.

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10 thoughts on “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter (The Return of Sherlock Holmes, #11)

  1. says:

    In this story, Mr. Cyril Overton of Trinity College, Cambridge comes to Holmes seeking his help in Godfrey Staunton’s disappearance. Staunton is the key man on Overton’s rugby team (who plays at the three-quarters position, hence the story's title), and they will never win the important match tomorrow against Oxford if Staunton cannot be found. Holmes has to admit that sport is outside his field, but he shows the same care he has shown to his other cases.
    Staunton had seemed a bit pale and bothered earlier in the day, but late in the evening, according to a hotel porter, a rough-looking, bearded man came to the hotel with a note for Staunton which, judging from Staunton’s reaction, contained rather devastating news. He then left the hotel with the bearded stranger, and the two of them were seen running in the direction of the Strand at about half past ten. No-one has seen them since.
    Overton has wired to Cambridge to find out if Staunton has been seen there; he has not. He has also wired Lord Mount-James, Staunton’s very wealthy and thoroughly miserly uncle and nearest living kin, but has heard no answer. Staunton is the almost-eighty-year-old Lord Mount-James’s heir, but he must meanwhile live in relative poverty owing to his uncle’s miserly behavior.
    At the hotel, Holmes questions the porter. This bearded man who brought the note was neither a gentleman nor a workman, and he seemed to be bothered by something, too, for his hand was trembling as he handed Staunton the note. The only word that the porter overheard of their short conversation was “time”.
    At six o’clock, the porter had brought Staunton a telegram, and he saw Staunton write a reply. Staunton told the porter that he would send it himself. Holmes looks at the telegraph forms in Staunton’s room, and then at the blotter, finally finding a clue. The impression on the blotter yields a part of the message that Staunton sent: “Stand by us for God’s sake”. Obviously at least one other person is involved (“us”), and there is some kind of danger. Other papers left in the room yield clues.
    Lord Mount-James also briefly visits, and can give Holmes no useful information as to his nephew’s whereabouts. The old miser seems utterly aghast at the possibility that it might be a kidnapping whose object would be to extort his wealth.
    Holmes and Dr. Watson then go to the telegraph office where Holmes uses a ruse to get the woman there to show him the counterfoil of the message that Staunton sent. It was addressed to Dr. Leslie Armstrong, an academic at Cambridge. They go to see him.
    Dr. Armstrong tells Holmes that Staunton is an intimate friend of his. He does not react when told that Staunton has disappeared, and claims not to know where he is, and not to have seen him recently. He also says that Staunton is very healthy, but Holmes then produces one of Staunton’s papers, a thirteen-guinea bill from Dr. Armstrong. Furious, Armstrong refuses to answer any more questions, and denies that he had the telegram from Staunton. He then has his butler show Holmes and Watson out. They lodge at an inn just across the street from Armstrong’s, where they can watch him.
    Holmes conducts some inquiries. A man in the yard before the inn tells Holmes that Armstrong, although not in actual medical practice, regularly rides in his brougham out into the country somewhere. The roundtrip seems to take about three hours. Holmes tries following the brougham on one of its outings, hiring a bicycle for the purpose. He is thwarted by Dr. Armstrong, who makes it quite clear that he is aware that Holmes is following him. He gives Holmes the slip.
    The next day, Holmes’s inquiries in all the local villages come to naught; no-one has seen the doctor’s brougham passing through their village.
    The mystery is at last unlocked by Pompey, a beagle-foxhound cross by appearance, who tracks the doctor’s brougham to a cottage in the countryside after Holmes had coated the wheels in aniseed oil. What Holmes finds is not pleasant. Staunton is there, but is grieving over his young wife, who has just died of consumption. Her existence was kept secret, because Lord Mount-James would not have approved of the marriage and would have disowned his nephew. Dr. Armstrong had told the woman’s father about her condition, and he, the bearded stranger, had unwisely told Staunton, who felt compelled to rush off forthwith.
    As there is no broken law, Holmes decided to keep everything quiet.
    I recommend this story to all readers that appreciate a very well written mystery.

  2. says:

    In this story, Mr. Cyril Overton of Trinity College, Cambridge comes to Holmes looking for his assistance in Godfrey Staunton's vanishing. Staunton is the key man on Overton's rugby group (who plays at the seventy five percent position, subsequently the story's title), and they will never win the essential match tomorrow against Oxford if Staunton can't be found. Holmes needs to concede that game is outside his field, however he demonstrates a similar care he has appeared to his different cases.

    Staunton had appeared somewhat pale and irritated before in the day, however late at night, as indicated by an inn watchman, an unpleasant looking, hairy man went to the lodging with a note for Staunton which, in light of Staunton's response, contained rather destroying news. He at that point left the lodging with the hairy outsider, and both of them were seen running toward the Strand at about half past ten. Nobody has seen them since.

    I will not recommend this story to anyone.

  3. says:

    Liked this one quite a bit, so I guess I don't need (view spoiler)

  4. says:

    The story was wrapped in mystery. I liked the mood in which was situated the plot.

    I was surely not expecting this outcome, but I can't help but be a little disappointed with how it ended

  5. says:

    It is a good Sherlock Holmes mystery as the master detective must solve a possible kidnapping case, though the ending was far from satisfactory.

  6. says:

    Not his most interesting case but it's interesting. Simply, there's no case itself because since the beginning the character hasn't been missing, he just left without any evidence of him being kidnapped or anything. I got very curious about the doctor and I would really want to know more about him, especially in opposite sides of Sherlock, it's interesting that Sherlock finds him more dangerous than Moriarty itself.

  7. says:

    This is a case of a person gone missing under circumstances that appear dubious and possibly foul. The build up held my attention through the first half of the story; however, the actual resolution and climax left me only mildly entertained.

  8. says:

    A good mystery with a sad ending.

  9. says:

    I say it was meh

  10. says:

    The eleventh short story in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. A young man is missing, and Sherlock Holmes is on the case. Entertaining, but sad.

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