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The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk…

The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,… (1893)

by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Another good short story featuring Sherlock Holmes. In this particular one, a young clerk, Hall Pycroft, consults Holmes with his suspicions concerning a company that has offered him a very well-paid job. Holmes, Watson and Pycroft travel by train to Birmingham, where the job is initially to be based, and Pycroft explains that he was recently discharged by a stockbroking house. He eventually secured a new post with another stockbrokers, Mawson and Williams, in Lombard Street in the City. Before taking up the job, he was approached by Arthur Pinner, who offered him a managership with a newly established hardware distribution company, to be based in France.
Pycroft is sent to Birmingham to meet Pinner's brother and company co-founder, Harry Pinner. He is offered a very well-paid post with one hundred pounds in advance, and is asked to sign a document accepting the post, and is also asked not to send a letter of resignation to his would-be employers (Who allegedly bet Pinner that he would reject Pinner's offer, Pinner betting in response that they wouldn't hear from Pycroft again). He immediately commences his duties, but he is concerned about the unprofessional aspects of the business and their sparse offices, as well as the suspicious fact that the two Pinners have a distinctive gold filling in their teeth in the same place, suggesting that they might be the same man.
When the trio arrive at the Birmingham office, with Holmes and Watson presented as fellow job-seekers, Pinner is reading a London newspaper and is clearly in shock. As they leave, he attempts suicide, but Watson is able to revive him. Holmes concludes that the story of the brothers is a fabrication and that there is only one 'Pinner'; lacking enough men to make their attempt to deceive Pycroft convincing, Pinner had attempted to pose as his brother to make up the numbers in the hope that Pycroft would dismiss the similarities between them as a family resemblance. He further deduces that the whole point of the exercise was to obtain Pycroft's signature so that a 'fake' Pycroft may be employed at Mawsons (Hence why they asked him to not officially resign his post). Mawsons was keeping a vast stock of valuable securities, and 'Pycroft' was to be a safebreaker.
Holmes goes to the office. From the newspaper, they learn that Mawson & Williams have suffered an attempted robbery, but that the criminal had been captured, although the weekend watchman has been murdered. Beddington, the forger and cracksman, was the miscreant, masquerading as Pycroft, and his brother was masquerading as Pinner. Nearly a hundred thousand pounds' worth of American railway bonds, with a large amount of scrip in mines and other companies, was taken, but recovered by the police from the would-be thief.
As the police are called to arrest 'Pinner', Holmes observes that "Human nature is a strange mixture, Watson. You see that even a villain and murderer can inspire such affection that his brother turns to suicide when he learns that his neck is forfeited".
I recommend this book to all readers who appreciate a well written mystery case. It contains similarities with other Doyle's short story, "The Red-Headed League", for it, too, involves an elaborate hoax designed to remove an inconvenient person from the scene for a while so that a crime can be committed. ( )
  rmattos | Jan 23, 2016 |
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This is the short story "The Stock-broker's Clerk". It should not be combined with any collection of which it is only a part.
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Sherlock Holmes was a man who seldom took exercise for exercise's sake. Few men were capable of greater muscular effort, and he was undoubtedly one of the finest boxers of his weight that I have ever seen; but he looked upon aimless bodily exertion as a waste of energy, and he seldom bestirred himself save when there was some professional object to be served. Then he was absolutely untiring and indefatigable. That he should have kept himself in training under such circumstances is remarkable, but his diet was usually of the sparest, and his habits were simple to the verge of austerity. Save for the occasional use of cocaine, he had no vices, and he only turned to the drug as a protest against the monotony of existence when cases were scanty and the papers uninteresting.… (more)

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