• Sherlock Holmes Short Stories

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    • Abstract: stories to supplement his income. In 1887, he published. the first long Sherlock Holmes ... Four years later, when his short stories about the detective ...

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Teacher’s notes LEVEL 5 Teacher Support Programme
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle How could a respectable businessman be seen at the
window of an opium den and his clothes found there
with no trace of the man himself ? Surely the tramp with
the twisted lip in the room must have murdered him. Or
why should a millionaire in America have left a fortune
to three people with the unusual surname of Garrideb?
Or will Holmes and Watson be in time to discover the
whereabouts of the beautiful Lady Frances Carfax before
she is murdered by criminals?
The Man with the Twisted Lip
Mrs Saint Clair sees her husband (Neville) at the window
of a place that attracts opium addicts. Neville seems to
wave at her nervously and then disappears from view.
About the author Mrs Saint Clair gets the police to search the building for
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born in her husband. In the room where she saw him, they only
Edinburgh and qualified as a doctor after studying find his clothes. A crippled beggar who is in the room is
medicine at Edinburgh University. He went into medical arrested. Holmes tries to find the missing man.
practice at Southsea on the south coast but began writing Conclusion: Holmes discovers that the beggar is actually
stories to supplement his income. In 1887, he published the missing husband in disguise. He has made his money
the first long Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. by begging but doesn’t want his family to know that. He
Four years later, when his short stories about the detective changed in and out of his disguise each day at that room
began to appear regularly in Strand magazine, he gave in the opium den.
up his career as a doctor, though he later received a
knighthood for organising medical services during the The Engineer’s Thumb
Boer War in Africa (1899–1902). Victor Hatherley, an engineer in need of money, is hired
by a strange looking man (Captain Lysander Stark) who
Conan Doyle looked like a stronger, taller version of needs to fix a machine. Hatherley is offered a large sum
the narrator of the Holmes stories, Dr Watson, and his of money to help him. However, Hatherley must not tell
values were similar too – those of public schoolboys in the anyone about the job and he must travel by train at night
Victorian era (1832–1901). He was brave, good at sport to a location outside London.
and chivalrous towards women. Doyle was fascinated by
brave people in history and he preferred his historical After Hatherley meets Stark at the train station, they take
novels to Sherlock Holmes. Consequently, he announced an hour-long journey together. (Hatherley is not able to
Holmes’s death in a story in 1893 and did not write see where they are going because the carriage windows are
about him again for several years. But in 1901, he had coloured glass.)
the idea for his most famous Holmes story, The Hound of When they finally arrive at their destination, a woman
the Baskervilles, and Holmes’s popularity with the public warns Hatherley to leave immediately. Hatherley ignores
caused Doyle to bring him back to life for a further series the warning because he wants to get paid for his work.
of adventures. Stark and another man (Mr Ferguson) take Hatherley
to a room to look at the machine. When Stark believes
Summary Hatherley is checking out what the machine is used for
The six Sherlock Holmes stories in this volume contain (probably something illegal), he tries to kill him. The
examples of the contrasting kinds of stories that made woman helps Hatherley escape but he loses his thumb
the detective famous: those where pure logic solves an when Stark strikes him with an axe. After waking from his
apparently insoluble problem, and those of action, where unconscious state, Hatherley find himself back near the
Holmes and his friend, Dr Watson, arrive just in time to train station.
save innocent victims from villains.
c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Sherlock Holmes Short Stories - Teacher’s notes  of 5
Teacher’s notes LEVEL 5 Teacher Support Programme
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
Conclusion: Holmes decides that the machine is used Then in Baden-Baden, Germany, she had met a man
to press money and that an unconscious Hatherley was (Dr Schlessinger) and his wife. The doctor, a religious
probably carried away from danger by the woman and man, had become ill and Lady Frances had helped the
Ferguson. The train station was near the house but doctor’s wife take care of him. She had left with both of
Hatherley had been tricked into thinking it was far away. them for England. The hotel manager told Watson that
The house burned down in a fire that night, probably a strange Englishman (likely the one she had seen in
because of a lamp that Hatherley left by the machine. The Lausanne) had asked about her.
three from the house get away with boxes of forged coins. Watson talks with Lady Frances’s maid (Marie Devine)
The Patient in Montpellier. Devine had always been loyal to Lady
Dr Trevelyan set up a private medical practice in his home, Frances. However, she had left Lady Frances in Baden-
with the help of a stranger, Mr Blessington. In exchange, Baden when Lady Frances accused her of stealing from
Blessington stayed at the house and received a percentage her. Devine told Watson that she thought Lady Frances
of the doctor’s earnings. Trevelyan came to Holmes when was trying to escape from the strange Englishman. Just
Blessington became crazy with fear. His anxiety started then, she sees him walking past them. Watson tries to
when he heard about a recent robbery. (Blessington kept talk to the Englishman but when Watson mentions Lady
all his money in a metal box in his room because he didn’t Frances’s name, the man gets in a fight with him. Watson
trust banks.) is saved by Holmes (who is there in disguise) and explains
to him that the Englishman is actually an old friend of
Trevelyan started treating a patient who introduced
Lady Frances’s (Philip Green) who had been in South
himself as a Russian lord. He came with his son.
Africa earning enough money so he could marry her.
Blessington was out for a walk when the man was being
examined. When Blessington returned, he saw footprints They discover that the doctor who Lady Frances is
in his room. Someone had been in there but nothing had travelling with is actually ‘Peters the Priest’, a man known
been taken. for robbing lonely women with the help of a woman who
pretends to be his wife. Holmes, Watson and Green find
Holmes asked Blessington who the men were and why
the location of the evil couple in London by tracking the
they were his enemies. When Blessington said he didn’t
sale of some old jewellery through a pawn shop.
know them, Holmes told him he needed to tell the
truth and left. The next day, Trevelyan told Holmes that Conclusion: They find that the evil man and woman have
Blessington had hung himself. arranged for Lady Frances to be buried in an extra deep
coffin along with an elderly woman who has died. They
Conclusion: Holmes figured out that 15 years before,
break open the coffin and find Lady Frances who is still
the two men and Blessington had been part of a group
of four robbers. Blessington had helped the police and
was set free, while one of the men was hanged. The other The Three Garridebs
two (who had disguised themselves as the patient and An old man (Nathan Garrideb), who spends most of
son) had gone to prison. Once free, they came to punish his days at home with his collection of things, contacts
Blessington. It seemed that they put Blessington on trial, Holmes. Nathan has heard from an American lawyer
found him guilty, and hanged him. (John Garrideb) that he could become rich. That lawyer
meets with Holmes and explains that a rich American
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
man named Alexander Hamilton Garrideb had died and
Watson is sent to Switzerland to look for Lady Frances
left a strange condition in his will. Alexander said that if
Carfax, an unmarried woman travelling alone but who has
three adult males could be found with the unusual name
not been heard from for weeks. While she is not rich, she
of Garrideb, then these three men would then receive his
always travels with her unique (and valuable) jewellery.
property (worth five million dollars each).
She had been seen talking with a wild-looking Englishman
in Lausanne, Switzerland. The lawyer says he has found a third Garrideb (Howard)
in England and asks Nathan to travel by train to meet this
man and explain the situation. While Nathan does not
want to leave home, Holmes persuades him to go.
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Teacher’s notes LEVEL 5 Teacher Support Programme
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
Conclusion: Holmes and Watson wait in the old man’s The police say that Henderson was an evil Central
house, and after some time the lawyer breaks in. He American ruler named Juan Murillo who had escaped
pushes away a table, lifts up the floor covering, and climbs from his country after an uprising. His enemies, including
into a hole underneath. They are able to stop the lawyer Garcia, were seeking revenge for his crimes. Miss Burnet’s
but not before he shoots Watson in the leg. Holmes husband had been the London representative of the San
discovers a press for printing money in the hole. The Pedro government and Murillo had ordered his death.
lawyer was actually ‘Killer Evans’. Years before, he had shot Miss Burnet had gone into the house as a teacher and had
the man who owned the printing press in the house now sent Garcia the note that let him know where Murillo
occupied by Nathan. Evans served time in prison and had would be that night. However, the plot was discovered.
waited for his chance to access the house to obtain the Garcia was killed and Miss Burnet was kept prisoner until
printing press. But first, he had to get Nathan out of the her escape at the train station.
Background and themes
Wisteria House
Sherlock Holmes is by far the most famous fictional
Scott Eccles comes to Holmes to relate the previous night’s
detective. His name has become part of the English
strange events at the house of a new friend named Garcia.
language, and the stories still appeal to readers today even
Eccles then finds out that the police want to question him
though the social background of London has changed
about the death of Garcia.
Eccles describes how he had been invited to spend a few
Conan Doyle based Holmes on one of his teachers at
days at Garcia’s house with Garcia and his two servants. At
Edinburgh University, a man called Bell, who had the
dinner, he saw how Garcia was distracted, especially after
ability to guess his patients’ background from observing
receiving a note. Eccles went to bed but woke up to hear
their every minute detail. This kind of analysis and
Garcia at his door. Garcia noted the time (one o’clock)
explanation continually astonishes Watson and delights
and said that he thought Eccles had rung a bell asking for
readers. In contrast to Watson, who is a conventional
assistance. The next morning, Eccles discovered there was
ex-public schoolboy, Conan Doyle also gave Holmes
no one in the house.
characteristics that would have appeared rather exotic. He
Meanwhile, the police find Garcia’s body in a nearby field is a confirmed bachelor, he plays the violin, he takes drugs
and determine he was killed before a heavy rainfall at one and he despises authority. Part of his attraction is that he is
o’clock. The police arrest Garcia’s cook in connection with a rebel, but a rebel on the side of justice, and consequently
the crime. he has a freedom of thought and action which the average
Holmes believes that Garcia invited Eccles to his house policeman doesn’t have. But he is also able to defend
as a witness who could swear Garcia was home at one himself physically and is a master of disguise so that even
o’clock. In trying to decipher the note Garcia read, Watson fails to recognise him.
Holmes believes that a large house nearby was involved The contrast between Holmes and Watson is vital to
in the murder. He focuses his attention on High Gable, the success of the stories. Watson asks all the questions
a house occupied by foreigners, including an evil man the reader wants to ask, and when Holmes impatiently
named Mr Henderson. explains what to him is obvious, Watson is acting on our
Meanwhile, Miss Burnet, an Englishwoman who taught behalf. Apart from that, if Holmes told the stories he
the children in High Gable and lived there, has not been would sound arrogant, but instead of that we are full of
seen since Garcia’s murder. While Holmes and Watson admiration for him because we see him through Watson’s
plan to climb into Burnet’s room at the house, they hear eyes.
that she has run away from Henderson and the others, Though there are two kinds of Sherlock Holmes stories
who were escaping on a train. represented in this selection, the themes are similar in both
Conclusion: Holmes discovers that the police arrested the cases. The villains are usually professional criminals, often
cook to make Henderson feel safe and give the police a hiding behind false names, who aim to make money by
chance to save Miss Burnet. robbery, fraud, or by forgery. The puzzling plots depend
on the idea that there is always a logical explanation
c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Sherlock Holmes Short Stories - Teacher’s notes  of 5
Teacher’s notes LEVEL 5 Teacher Support Programme
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
for what seems strange. The other stories are more Author’s name: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
conventional tales of action. Date and place of birth:
The social background accurately reflects London a Family:
hundred years ago. This was a society where forty per Medical work:
cent of the population were servants. People respected First printed stories:
gentlemen like Holmes and Watson, and hurried to obey Introduction of Sherlock Holmes:
their orders. The police belonged to a lower social class First marriage:
and were poorly thought of because of inefficiency and Second marriage:
corruption. This is why almost all fictional detectives until Full-time writing:
the 1920s were amateurs. Another feature, in contrast to Other writing:
today, is that trains always seem to run on time, carriages Political life:
were always on hand when needed, and Holmes and Spiritual interests:
Watson never seemed delayed by traffic. Death:
The villains in the stories of action tend to come from The Man with the Twisted Lip
abroad. The German villain in The Engineer’s Thumb Before reading
reflects the emergence of Germany as the main threat to 4 Discuss: This story involves a person who begs for
the British Empire. When good and bad characters both money on the street. Have students discuss how it
would feel to beg for money. What could be the
have a colonial background (Green and Peters in The
reasons that cause people to beg?
Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax), we are reminded
that young men at that time often went to ‘the colonies’ to After reading
make their fortune. 5 Pair work: Have students choose five words that
they feel best describe Neville Saint Clair. Have them
The enduring appeal of the Sherlock Holmes stories is discuss their choices with the class.
partly due to television. They are ideally suited to short 6 Group work: In small groups, have students list the
episodes where the characters are already known and reasons why Holmes initially believes Neville Saint
Clair has been murdered. Then list how he reaches
the background can easily be recreated on the screen. the correct solution to the story.
The stories also depend on dialogue and adaptation 7 Role play: Have students imagine the conversation
to dramatic form. But above all, there is the fact that Neville would have with his wife after his release
internationally Holmes has become the perfect example from jail. Student A is Neville. What would you say
of the private detective. to your wife about your situation? Student B is Isa,
the wife. What would you ask your husband about his
disappearance? How would you respond to his story?
Discussion activities
The Engineer’s Thumb
Before reading Before reading
1 Discuss: Have the students seen films or videos about 8 Guess: The picture on the cover of the book is from
Sherlock Holmes? What do they know about him? this story. Have students look at the name of this
Have them look at the cover of the book. What do story (The Engineer’s Thumb) and try to imagine what
they think is happening? How does it make them feel? the story might be about.
2 Group work: These stories take place about a
hundred years ago in London, England. In groups, After reading
have students discuss what might be different about 9 Discuss: Have students think about Mr Hatherley’s
life then and now. For example, the different types of situation. If they were him, would they have accepted
transportation and the ways the police might take care the job, even though they had to meet the employer
of investigations. late at night at a faraway place and keep everything
secret? Why or why not? What could they have done
Introduction to keep safe?
After reading 10 Write: Have students imagine that they are Elise
3 Read carefully: Have the students read about Conan and they are riding away in the cart with Stark and
Doyle in the Introduction (pages viii to ix). Have Ferguson at the end of the story. How do you feel?
students work in pairs and fill out a chart about the What will you do? Will you stay with the men? Why or
author. why not? Write your thoughts as a journal entry.
c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Sherlock Holmes Short Stories - Teacher’s notes  of 5
Teacher’s notes LEVEL 5 Teacher Support Programme
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
11 Art work: In pairs, ask students to design a ‘Wanted’ The Three Garridebs
poster that the police could use to try to find and Before reading
arrest Captain Stark. Have them draw a picture of 20 Guess: Have students look at the title of this story.
Stark and write a brief description. State his crime What could it be about? Have them share their ideas
and other important information, including a brief in class.
description of his travelling companions.
After reading
The Patient 21 Group work: Have students make a list of the steps
Before reading Holmes took to solve this case.
12 Discuss: In The Patient, a doctor has his private 22 Write: Have students imagine how Holmes would
medical practice in his home. Have students discuss feel if Watson were seriously injured in the shooting.
the possible benefits and problems involved with Have them pretend they are Holmes. Write a letter to
having patients visit one’s home. Watson in the hospital, thanking him for his help and
After reading 23 Role play: Have students imagine the first
13 Pair work: In pairs, have students list what Holmes conversation Nathan Garrideb would have with a
discovers in the room that helps him explain how friend after hearing the news about the will from
Blessington died. the American lawyer. Student A is Nathan Garrideb.
14 Write: Have students read what happened to the What would you tell your friend about this news? How
Worthingdon Bank robbers on page 52. Then have would you feel? Student B is Nathan’s friend. How
them imagine that they are newspaper reporters. would you respond to the news? What advice would you
Write a story for their newspaper about the death of give Nathan?
these four men. What can the readers learn from the 24 Discuss: Have students imagine that they suddenly
story of these robbers? have five million dollars. What would they do with
15 Discuss: Have students discuss what they would have the money?
done with the money if they were Blessington. How
could they keep safe from the other bank robbers and Wisteria House
still enjoy their life? Before reading
16 Role play: In groups of three, have students role 25 Guess: Have students look at the title of this story.
play Blessington and the two men who pretend to Where might this house be located? What type of
be a patient and his son. Students A and B are the people might live here? What might happen? Share
two men who pretended to be father and son. Tell ideas as a class.
Blessington how you found him, why you wanted to
find him and what you intend to do. Student C is After reading
Blessington. Try to explain your situation and get the 26 Role play: In pairs, have students act out the
men to forgive you. conversations between Baynes and Sherlock Holmes
on pages 100–101 and 106–107. Encourage them to
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax take on the roles of the characters and use expressive
Before reading voices. Circulate around the room and find two
17 Guess: Have students look at the title of this story. students to perform the dialogues for the class.
What will it be about? Who might be the main 27 Write: Have students imagine how Eccles might feel
characters? to be involved in this case. What might Eccles write
in a letter to a friend about his role in this adventure?
After reading Have students write the letter.
18 Role play: Have students imagine the conversation 28 Role play: In pairs, have students imagine how
Mr Green and Lady Frances might have at the end of Henderson (Murillo) and Lucas (Lopez) might feel
the story. Student A is Philip Green. Tell Lady Frances after they find Miss Burnet writing a note to Garcia.
where you have been, what you have done, and your (See page 108.) Have them act out the conversation
plans for the future. Student B is Lady Frances. Talk between Henderson and Lucas. What should they do
about what you have done in the last few years. What about Miss Burnet?
are your plans? 29 Write: Have students imagine how Mrs Durando
19 Discuss: On page 55, Holmes tells Watson that the (Miss Burnet) might feel after the death of Murillo
London police ‘would feel lonely if I went abroad’. In and Lopez in Madrid. Have students write a Letter
the stories, the police are always polite to Holmes and to the Editor from Mrs Durando that expresses her
depend on him to solve their cases. Have students feelings about their death.
discuss how they think the police in their country
today would react if a private detective behaved like Vocabulary activities
Holmes. For the Word List and vocabulary activities, go to
c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Sherlock Holmes Short Stories - Teacher’s notes 5 of 5

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