The Problem of Thor Bridge
A Sherlock Holmes Story
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The story is remarkable for the initial reference to a tin dispatchbox, hidden in a bank, where Dr Watson kept the papers concerning various Holmes' cases.
In this story, Maria Gibson was found lying in a pool of blood on Thor Bridge with a bullet through the head and note from the governess, agreeing to a meeting at that location, in her hand. A recently discharged pistol with one shot fired is found in Miss Dunbar's wardrobe. Holmes agrees to look at the situation in spite of the damning evidence.
“ … an answer on the sundial in the garden, as she desired no one to be in our confidence. I saw no reason for such secrecy, but I did as she asked, accepting the appointment. She asked me to destroy her note and I burned it in the schoolroom grate. She was very much afraid of her husband, who treated her with a harshness for which I frequently reproached him, and I could only imagine that she acted in this way because she did not wish him to know of our interview.”
“Yet she kept your reply very carefully?”
“Yes. I was surprised to hear that she had it in her hand when she died.
Well, what happened then?”
“I went down as I had promised. When I reached the bridge she was waiting for me. Never did I realize till that moment how this poor creature hated me. She was like a mad woman - indeed, I think she was a mad woman, subtly mad with the deep power of deception which insane people may have. How else could she have met me with unconcern every day and yet had so raging a hatred of me in her heart? I will not say what she said. She poured her whole wild fury out in burning and horrible words. I did not even answer - I could not. It was dreadful to see her. I put my hands to my ears and rushed away. When I left her she was standing, still shrieking out her curses at me, in the mouth of the bridge."
"Where she was afterwards found?"
"Within a few yards from the spot."
"And yet, presuming that she met her death shortly after you left her, you heard no shot?"
"No, I heard nothing. But, indeed, Mr. Holmes, I was so agitated and horrified by this terrible outbreak that I rushed to get back to the peace of my own room, and I was incapable of noticing anything which happened."
"You say that you returned to your room. Did you leave it again before next morning?"
"Yes, when the alarm came that the poor creature had …”